Book Review of "Baby Dust", by Deanna Roy
A Review of Deanna Roy's novel, "Baby Dust"
For those already familiar with Deanna Roy's efforts to provide information and support to women who have suffered a miscarriage (e.g. pregnancyloss.info and Casey Shay Press), it will come as no surprise that the multi-talented Roy has now used storytelling to reach women who have endured this "impossible loss”.
Roy's debut novel "Baby Dust" was launched on October 1, 2011 as a kick off to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance month. The title, "Baby Dust", serves as an introduction to the theme of the book with its double entendre; baby dust is a phrase commonly used on online community boards to send blessings and good wishes to women struggling to have a baby, but also suggests the fragility of young lives unlived and deeply mourned.
For women who have experienced a pregnancy loss, this novel will strike a chord. There are so many aspects to the loss of a pregnancy, from the medical, to the emotional and psychological, to the spiritual; however, whether or not you are a member of what artist Laura Seftel calls "The Secret Club", this compelling, well-written novel will pull you in.
Roy's central characters - Stella, Melinda, Dot, Tina and Janet - meet at a weekly miscarriage support group. Told through five parts, we learn about each character's personal story and the fall out in their lives that led them to the support group. Each story is told unflinchingly, in a style that is both straightforward and lush with detail. The characters will ring true to readers, perhaps not in small part because they were drawn from an amalgam of stories shared with the author via her website.
"Baby Dust" is as realistic and honest a portrayal of the loss of a child as has ever been written to my knowledge (I've added the book to my hub on artistic representations of pregnancy loss). The writing felt cinematic at times; as a reader, it felt almost voyeuristic to "watch" Roy's characters move through their losses, and begin the hard work of putting their lives back together. The psychological impact of the loss of a child is deftly conveyed in the experiences of each character; there are self-hating religious interpretations of events that could not have been prevented, an attempted suicide, and disturbing hallucations, to name a few.
Early in the novel we follow Melinda (who hallucinates blood on the floor of her home) as she goes to great lengths to retrieve the baby she left in the trash in an acquaintance's home. "One part of her knew this was crazy. But most of her didn't care. She had her baby back. He was real. Not an idea, a hope, or even a conglomeration of white specs on a sonogram. Real flesh. Real blood."
It is the author’s expressed hope that in writing a book that truthfully reflects the experience of so many women, that those who have suffered a pregnancy loss will see themselves, feel less crazy, and less alone. For this reason, Roy's book is more than an excellent, if challenging read, but a great success. Certainly it will help other women who have lost babies feel less alone, but what's more her novel will help shine a light on this taboo subject for those who haven't been there. "Baby Dust" is a book to get people talking and to better understand this silent epidemic of loss.
For those who loved "Baby Dust" as I did, there is good news: Roy is working on a prequel to the novel, which tells the backstory of two of her first novel's characters, Stella and Dane.
I Can Make Life: Poems About Infertility and Miscarriage, Pregnancy and Birth
About Nicole Breit
Nicole Breit is a published author and poet. Her debut poetry collection, , explores the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and birth. I Can Make Life was a finalist for the 2012 Mary Ballard Poetry competition. Her essay, “For Tristan: A Meditation on Loss, Grief and Healing” was published in The Sound of Silence: Journeys Through Miscarriage (Wombat Books, 2011). She is also the author of a number of online I Can Make Lifepregnancy loss resources. Follow her writing journey on her blog, Writing for my Life, or on twitter @NicoleBreit.