My Fretless Life
Original title: Une vie fretless ou comment j’ai accouché d’une méduse
“The fate of her little daughter, who suffered from a degenerative disease, gave Anouk Lanouette Turgeon an obligation, a visceral need to tell the story of the pain caused by fatality. […] The freedom that motivates Lanouette’s writing comes from Michel Garneau, who bequeathed to her, she confides, this obligation to get away from clichés, to go elsewhere, to never use a conventional expression or to stretch the sauce with adverbs. A way of doing things that one perceives even before opening her novel, in this ‘fretless life’, an analogy that allows her to singularly evoke unprecedented moments of life played without reference points, moments when she had to juggle with the invisible.” —Le Devoir
“This honesty is destabilizing, and gives the text an openness that invites us to deconstruct presuppositions and to hear what is often thought, but rarely said. The singularity of this voice is one of the major qualities of this novel. It shakes and in this sense participates in some of the roles that the literary calls for: to put into perspective, to modify the way we look at things.”—Lettres québécoises
“Told in fragments, this story seduces as much as it disturbs. Despite the narrator’s exuberance and taste for risk (and adultery), we become attached to this woman who claims her right to be an imperfect mother like all others. A reading that reverses our conception of normality.” —Coup de pouce
“The fragmentary form of the novel says a lot about how Anouk managed to write it, between caregiving, hospital visits, moments of light and discouragement, and activism.”—La Tribune
“She also opens her heart to us. Wide open. She shares with us her intimacy, her desires and her inner struggles. It is of a truly disturbing sincerity. […] It turned me upside down, stirred my heart. I loved that with her words, she made me feel the immensity and the sweetness of their love, of the unique bond that unites them. It made me think, a lot.” —Pour coeur littéraire (blog)
“Une vie fretless” is an extraordinary journey of constant comings and goings through time. By using small postcards, short texts—even fugacious ones—, Anouk takes us in bursts from her childhood to her present, from her youth to her recent past, from her fears to her desires, from her darkest moments to her happiest moments. In short, she offers us a roller coaster of emotions narrated in a vibrant style that captivates you from the very first page. In her multiple reflections, she tackles such delicate issues as life and destiny, disability and “normality”, temptation and fidelity, chance and death. As the father of a son with the same disease as Anouk’s daughter, this book is a real catharsis, but I am sure that any parent, whether they have a child with a disability or not, will be enriched by the perspective it brings on many social taboos. And at the heart of this story, the life of “Jade”. Anouk’s sweet jellyfish emerges and submerges steadily throughout the book, becoming more and more present as the reading progresses.
Jade gives meaning to everything, past, present and future. Undoubtedly, a must-read book about disability and its ripple effects. A novel that will bring a smile to your face at the moment you least expect it or will surprise you with a bold interpellation in the middle of any of the multiple stories that mark this highly recommendable personal diary. —Alejandro Doval, KIF1A.ORG Community
Life is what happens to you when you were planning something else.
Offers a lesson in self-acceptance, rather than personal growth, and confronts our conceptions of marginalization and our relationship to difference. The protagonist, a mother of two disabled children, makes us question our own judgment of atypically developing children and how society is ill-equipped to welcome them.With notes of punk, poetry, and searing intensity, it’s an auto-fiction that disturbs and seduces, that makes you laugh and think. It challenges our conception of “normal” through a character who is outraged yet generous, strong yet fragile. A mother who sometimes just feels like giving up. In the process, the novel shatters preconceived notions of mothers of disabled children often hailed as brave and virtuous. The narrator asserts her right to be an imperfect mother like everyone else — in turns passionate, immoral, and irresponsible.
A must-read that gives a voice to a woman who refuses to fit into the boxes that society imposes on her. Written in fragments, it chronicles her life via a series of “fretless” (i.e., lacking points of reference) experiences.