Friday, November 10, 2017

On My Own, by Diane Rehm

Diane Rehm, the popular NPR talk and interview show host who retired last year, shares with readers the experience of her first year after her husband's death in 2014. The book is thoughtful, and its virtue is that Rehm is, in a sense, thinking out loud in sharing how she coped and changed.

Of course, in order to tell the story of her mourning and learning to live in a new way, she had to also tell of her long life with her husband, a successful lawyer whom she married when young and relied on for support beyond -- she now admits -- what was wise or reasonable. She isn't afraid to talk about the difficulties in the relationship, nor to deal with ambiguity, and she deserves credit for that.

She finds new strength now in the many relationships she forged over the years, as well as new interests. Her husband's difficulty in dying -- and the refusal of medical personnel to help him in ending his life -- made her an advocate of compassionate choices in ending one's life and her thoughts about this are sprinkled throughout the text.

Readers may also find inspiration in learning that Rehm did not even have a college education: being at the right place at the right time resulted in a dream job. But she credits her husband for supporting her financially and thereby making it possible for her to do volunteer work at the local NPR station to prove her abilities.

There is a minor organizational issue: Several of the chapters start out as though written as entries in a journal: i.e., "Today I . . . ." But within a couple of paragraphs, she moves to something like, "Two weeks later I . . . ." and suddenly we are not in journal territory at all. It's fine to do both, but it is jarring not to indicate the movement from journal entry to later reflection.

This is a minor complaint, though. Overall, if you are interested in Rehm, or liked her on-air presence, you will probably like this book.