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.