The First Signs of April

Non-Fiction - Memoir
257 Pages
Reviewed on 09/13/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite

The First Signs of April (A Memoir) by Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe explores themes of guilt, grief and how she coped when faced with losses in her life. Briscoe writes passionately and sensitively; this memoir deals with some very heavy themes, but there are also some laughs. A gifted writer, Briscoe’s narration is very engaging, pulling readers into her memories, making us curious to know more about the people in her life. Back in 2000, in Schenectady, New York, Briscoe reminisces about her Aunt Pat, who was diagnosed with cancer, subcutaneous T-cell lymphoma to be exact. I myself lost a beloved cousin to cancer, so this part of the memoir brings back my own painful memory of how my family tried to cope with the loss.

The other part of the memoir, which deals with suicide, travels back to Ballston Lake in the '80s, as Briscoe remembers Joy, her friend and first love. She has an enigma about her and Briscoe almost constantly stated how her younger self was sometimes confused as to how to break through Joy’s complexity and reach out to her. Joy’s story reflects on the stigma that still surrounds the subject of mental health and suicide today. Memories about Joy also let readers know how The First Signs of April came to be. All in all, this is a touching read where Briscoe’s clear, calm but moving prose will definitely encourage readers not to take the people in their lives for granted and learn how to forgive oneself, let go and embrace new directions in life.


This is an exceptional memoir by a very talented writer. Her story draws you in from the first page. Although some of her own struggles and experiences are different, you will find many can be related to your own in a very provocative and personal way. It is at times heart- wrenching as she chronicles her journey through love, loss, guilt and eventual peace. However, it also gives you moments of humor, gratitude and happiness! I especially appreciated the complete picture painted with her pen! The details in her writing make it all the more enjoyable as you are transported to the settings in upstate NY.-high school classrooms to the the lovely countryside! You feel right at home.I HIGHLY recommend giving this book a read! It will touch you and stay with you!


I could NOT put this book down. The author paints such a beautiful picture with her words and pulls you into the story. I loved the way it was told from two perspectives; the past and present. The characters were rich and deep and relatable. Dealing with suicide and the guilt that is associated with it is never easy, but she writes with beauty and grace and finally, closure.