Find a Place for Me

Embracing Love and Life in the Face of Death

Non-Fiction - Memoir
250 Pages
Reviewed on 02/08/2023
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Author Biography

Dr. Deirdre Fagan is the author of the memoir, Find a Place for Me: Embracing Love and Life in the Face of Death (2022), a short story collection, The Grief Eater (2020), a chapbook of poetry, Have Love (2019), and a reference book, Critical Companion to Robert Frost (2007). Her most recent book is a poetry collection, Phantom Limbs (2023). A creative writer and literary scholar whose work has recently been featured on NPR, ABC, and CBS, Fagan’s writing has appeared widely in literary and scholarly journals, anthologies, and encyclopedias, as well as magazines and newspapers. She is a widow, wife, mother of two, and professor and coordinator of creative writing at Ferris State University.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite

Find a Place for Me: Embracing Love and Life in the Face of Death by Deirdre Fagan is a beautiful portrayal of love against the backdrop of a terminal illness. It is a chronicle of a marriage and family that refuses to let amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) take over and dictate their lives. Following Fagan’s husband’s devastating diagnosis, the family has to adjust to an unfamiliar order while remaining focused on making each day count. They live to their fullest, allowing humor to guide them even on the worst of days. The couple’s love grows deeper as they confront the challenges introduced into their lives by ALS. The work is a celebration and a tribute to Bob’s courage and selflessness even in his final days. It is a poignant and moving portrait of a love that eclipses illness and death.

The memoir candidly explores the impact a terminal illness has on the family but also reveals the strong bonds of love that exist between them. The work is enhanced by its conversational language, compelling imagery, and concise chapters. Fagan writes with vulnerability, evoking powerful emotions at every stage of Bob’s journey. I appreciated that the book is also an intimate, touching picture of the role caregivers take on while balancing other roles such as motherhood. The conversations included are similarly raw, funny, and heartbreaking. Find a Place for Me by Deirdre Fagan remarkably captures the painful effects of terminal illness on a family. It is an image of bravery and resilience in the face of death.

Susan van der Walt

Deidre Fagan has already lost both her parents and her brother. While she is still trying to recover from these losses, her husband Bob is diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is always fatal and has a life expectancy of three to five years. Fagan shares her journey with us and how this disease has affected her, their children, and her family unit in Find a Place for Me: Embracing Love and Life in the Face of Death. We experience with her the progression of the disease in detail and learn about the assistance and devices a person with ALS requires. Even though they tried to shield their children as much as possible, Liam and Maeve still have to face the reality of their father's ever-weakening state.

As someone who has lost both my parents to cancer, I could identify with Deidre Fagan's perception of mourning. When a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal disease, you are mourning while they are still alive. It is a grieving process for their suffering and the time and experiences you will never get to share. After their death, you mourn the loss. Just like Fagan, I realized that often a person is ready to go, but hangs onto life because of a loved one who is not prepared to release them. I am also amazed at how Bob comforts and encourages his wife and equips her for the time when he will be gone. Readers in the same or a similar situation will appreciate the honesty and openness with which the author talks about her feelings during this journey. Find A Place for Me is an excellent book to create awareness about ALS and to help those who are or have a loved one dealing with this disease.

Asher Syed

Find a Place for Me: Embracing Love and Life in the Face of Death by Deirdre Fagan is a non-fiction memoir that recounts the author and her husband Bob's journey from the moment he has a twitch in his arm to the moments that follow his last breath. Dee shares some of the relationship's backstory, a little about their children, and the difficulty they both had as they were suddenly told that the life they knew together would slowly fall away, day by day, minute by minute over the next nine months or so. Dee and Bob spent them well, going on dates, making the world's most disgusting smoothie, and enjoying the little things. Bob was adamant that he would not be “a watermelon on the counter watching his life go by.” He was also adamant that Dee move on, preparing her to do that in ways she didn't always see until afterward. Their decade of marriage culminates with some of the most heartbreaking and most beautiful moments I've ever read in a single volume.

My wife lost her mother when her mother was only 43, and now that I am a couple of years older than that, what I once saw as something that happened in another generation is now so very close to home. The loss of a spouse is inconceivable to me and so reading Find a Place for Me was something I approached with extreme caution. I'm so glad I decided to give it a go. The writing is pitch-perfect, the pacing is excellent, and Deirdre Fagan shares her experiences in a wholly authentic way. There are some really intimate moments that I found enlightening, things like how their physical love life continued throughout with a few modifications and Bob encouraging Dee to spend time with other people. She is able to, but there is an exchange that had me completely choked up. Bob is present when Dee is happily chatting with a man named Dave, and afterward, Bob tells her that it felt like he was watching her life after he was gone. Like he was not there and observing a scene that he was no longer a part of. I cannot express how thankful I am that Dee has shared her and Bob's story, and am certain those who read it will feel the same. Very highly recommended.