Book Review: A Cry in the Dark
Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen
The true story of a life unravelling and the man who pulled it back together
A man sits on a bench by the playground and watches the children play. When a child invites him to join in, he explains that he’s too old now.
Instead, the child asks for a story.
On an otherwise ordinary day, Terence Ang collapses in the toilet. Rushed to the hospital, he spends several days in a blur. As he regains consciousness, it becomes clear that his life has changed in ways he could not have imagined. Once Terence was a purveyor of style and beauty. He surrounded himself in it, handpicked the perfect pieces for his home and wardrobe. Now, that beauty has disappeared.
Terence learns that he has had a hemorrhagic stroke and it’s affecting the left side of his brain, which results in weakness on the right side of his body. He is told that he’s lucky to be alive, lucky that the stroke has only affected his left side. He doesn’t feel that way. The stroke has distorted his speech to something unintelligible. His right arm and leg are useless. The independent, articulate person he had been has ceased to exist. If Terence has a chance of navigating this new life, he will need to rebuild himself from scratch.
A Cry in the Dark is an illustrated memoir of the experience being a stroke victim. It is framed through the lens of stories told to a child, which means Terence tells his story with stark simplicity. The focus of this book is on feelings more than events, so the roiling emotions—pain, fear, denial, and anger—burst from the pages. It’s a confronting story because it’s so clear how capable and determined Terence was before he suffered a stroke. That he can lose so much of himself in a few short moments is humbling.
While A Cry in the Dark starts out with pain, fear, and confusion, it quickly becomes more than that. Terence’s dynamic spirit might have been dampened but is never quenched. The moment he begins to recover, he pushes his mind, body, and the hospital’s resources to their limits to give himself his best chance.
The progression of this story is lovely. As Terence builds himself a new normal, he finds delight in things he had previously taken for granted. All of this shows through the illustrations that the author has drawn for the book. Pages that had been adorned with frenetic, dark images at the start become calmer and more serene as the book progresses.
A Cry in the Dark is an emotional rollercoaster of a memoir. It’s short and snappy, but it fits so much in its pages that it doesn’t feel like it. This is an important book for those who have felt their life spiral and not know how to reset it.
Genre: Nonfiction / Memoir / Health
Print Length: 148 pages
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