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Review of GABBY A Story of Courage and Hope.

Updated on September 10, 2012

A Story of Courage and Hope (and Love)

On January 8, 2011, Congresswoman Gabirelle (Gabby) Giffords was shot in the head during a "Congress on Your Corner" event in Tuscon, Arizona. The shooting left six people dead, thirteen wounded, and a nation stunned.

Gabby, written from Ms. Giffords' heart, in her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly's words, along with writer Jeffrey Zaslow, details the events of that fateful day, Gabby's miraculous survival and recovery and most importantly, the unyielding love she shares with her husband Mark.Gabby is a true story of survival and the will to recover. But it is a true love story, too.

A Story of Courage and Hope (and Gratitude)

Gabby open on the beach, four months after Gabby was shot and just before the launch of space shuttle Endeavor. Gabby, a lover of the ocean, must be helped toward the waves. She is wearing a helmet, her head misshapen, her golden locks of hair gone. She is full of scars and now has to wear glasses, fifty percent of her eyesight, lost. This once articulate woman can only speak a few words: "Yes. Great. Waves. Ocean!" She looks different and acts different than she did before the shooting--her talkative personality gone for now. But one thing remains; her joyous smile is still there. Her husband, "a sucker for that smile of hers", begins to feel hope, hope that one day Gabby will be whole again.

The opening chapter evokes such emotion I found myself crying by the sixth page---not out of pity, but rather out of appreciation for the simplest things in life that we all take for granted--to be able to walk, to be able to speak, to be able to express what we are feeling. Gabby reminds us to appreciate all of these things as we watch Gabby painstakingly deal without them, and Mark lovingly deal with the changes in his wife.

Gabby reveals to us who Gabby was before the shooting--a smart, driven young woman who always saw the bright side of things, (a perfect choice to play "Annie" in elementary school). We also learn about Mark--a slight rebel-rouser who flew thirty-nine combat missions in the Gulf War and became, along with his twin brother, an astronaut. We learn how Gabby and Mark meet and fall in love, get married, and plan to have a baby. And we see how even a hero's life can change in an instant. Gabby reveals to us what marriage vows are really about, what it really means to be there for another, "in sickness" as in health.

The touching moments in Gabby abound, from the way Gabby takes Mark's wedding ring off to play with it in her fingers, to the inscription Mark put in the ring: "you're the closest to Heaven that I've ever been". There is the regret felt by Mark's daughters over the way they treated Gabby as their stepmother, and the heartbreaking apology letter one of them writes to her after the shooting. There is Mark's love and encouragement for his wife through every stage of her recovery, from the moments when she could only say the word "chicken" to the terror she feels about her injured mind, to the closeness they feel even when he is circling the heavens as a space shuttle commander.

Gabby's courage inspires the entire nation, including two Presidents of The United States. But the biggest inspiration comes in the smallest moments between Gabby and her therapists, and Gabby and her devoted husband, Mark.

Gabby is awe-inspiring, touching and hopeful. It closes with Gabby's own words, halting and simple, but powerful at the same time. Readers are left remembering Gabby's remarkable story of courage, hope, faith and perseverance. But they are left with her husband's story, too. One of unyielding love and devotion for his wife, and of such appreciation for even the simplest things in life.


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