In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist, 2.5 Stars

I just love a good tragedy. God, that sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But three of my favorite movies of all time (I call them the trifecta), are Love Story (also one of my husband’s LEAST favorite movies of all time), Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias. Beaches ranks pretty high up there too!

I don’t know what it is. In general, I’m not a super emotional person. My husband is far more romantic than me. I’m practical, maybe, although that doesn’t seem a good word for it either. I cry when I’m really mad or frustrated, and when something is super sad or emotional. But I don’t cry 5 times during every episode of This is Us, so I have a pretty high bar.

Maybe because it takes a lot to turn on the waterworks I especially appreciate the genre of film and books that make that possible? Hmmmm… Either way, Every Moment We Are Still Alive seemed to fit into this category perfectly for me. And it’s already an international best-seller, so I figured what did I have to lose?

From the Publisher:

The prize-winning, bestselling tale of love, loss, family and the lives we live moment by moment, from a stunning new voice in European fiction.

Tom’s heavily pregnant girlfriend Karin is rushed to hospital with severe flu. While the doctors are able to save the baby, they are helpless in the face of what transpires to be acute Leukemia, and in a moment as fleeting as it is cruel Tom gains a daughter but loses his soul-mate. In Every Moment is the story of a year that changes everything, as Tom must reconcile the fury of bereavement with the overwhelming responsibility of raising his daughter, Livia, alone.

By turns tragic and redemptive, meditative and breathless, achingly poignant and darkly funny, this heavily autobiographical novel has been described in its native Sweden as ‘hypnotic’, ‘impossible to resist’ and ‘one of the most powerful books about grief ever written’.

My Review:

I was so excited to read this book and I must say, it was beautifully written. Apparently, Tom Malmquist is an award-winning Swedish poet, and it shows. The level of detail that goes into describing a situation or setting in the book is extremely thorough. But, that said, I was a bit bogged down by all the medical details that I didn’t quite understand and I found myself getting lost and having to flip back several pages to discover when something happened that I must have missed as I read along.

But this book has so many amazing reviews, I must be missing something? Is it my cold-heartedness striking again? Because I don’t think I even felt slightly verklempt while I read the book. Sure, it’s a sad story and it’s a true story, which makes it that much more heart-wrenching. But I didn’t get to fully experience that since I kept getting lost in the prose. I just didn’t feel the feelings.

It’s possible that a lot was lost in translation. Or perhaps I missed other nuances or details that are more of a cultural norm in Sweden that don’t relate to life in the U.S. I’m not sure. So, all in all, I was slightly disappointed but I did finish the book and found hope in the end. I’d love to read the book in its original form, but sadly I don’t think that will be happening.

Thanks to Melville House Publishing and Netgalley for an e-galley in exchange for my honest review.


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