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New and popular titles at Juniata County Library

BOOK REPORT

With so many good books being released all the time, it can be hard to determine what to check out next. Every week, I offer a run-down of significant releases available here at the library.

Visit our online card catalog at juniata.sparkpa.org to search today or call (717) 436-6378 to have a helpful library staff member assist you.

“Love You Hard: A Memoir of Marriage, Brain Injury, and Reinventing Love,” by Abby Maslin

A book club podcast I listen to recently spoke about this book and it really caught my interest. When someone has an extraordinary story to tell, a publisher usually enlists a seasoned writer to co-author the book, since it rarely happens that the storyteller is also a highly gifted and undiscovered author in her own right. Abby Maslin is clearly one such rarity — someone with a truly inspiring story, and the inherent literary ability to give it a proper voice.

On the day everything changed, Abby Maslin sat on the front stoop of a Capitol Hill apartment building, watching her 21-month-old son play in the small yard while she dialed 911. Her husband, Thomas, who goes by “TC,” had gone to the Washington Nationals baseball game the night before and hadn’t come home.

As she waited for the police, Abby’s mind raced. Was he on a friend’s couch? In another woman’s arms? No. She knew her husband. TC was so devoted to Abby and their son, Jack, that he had considered skipping the ballgame because he didn’t want to leave them for the evening.

On a stranger’s porch, several blocks away, TC had spent the night clinging to life. He had been walking home when three young men accosted him. They took his wallet and phone, and one of them cracked him in the head with a baseball bat. TC had stumbled to the porch, collapsed and lay there for eight hours. If he hadn’t been spotted by a pedestrian, he might have been lying there for hours more.

The next time Abby saw her husband, he was in a hospital bed, in a coma, with a chunk of his skull missing. At the time, the 30-year-old could not conceive of all she had already lost. She and TC were young parents, three years married, with a clear vision of themselves, each other, the life they wanted to build together. Now, the man Abby fell in love with was gone, though his heart was still beating.

When her husband finally woke up, he couldn’t speak or walk. Even after relearning those skills, he wouldn’t be the same. And neither would she.

During the past six and a half years, the Maslins have not recovered so much as transformed. TC’s health journey is one part of the story, but when the attacker swung at his head that night in August 2012, he struck Abby, too. The blow shattered her sense of safety, her belief in life’s benevolence, her carefree and spontaneous way of walking through the world. She assumed the roles of full-time caregiver to her husband and single mom to their son, and prayed her overachieving husband would someday utter complete sentences that once again made sense to her.

She composed sentences of her own — first in a blog, then a book — trying to make sense of it all. Gradually, she came to accept, in waves of realization that first alarmed and then amazed her, that she was very different from the woman who sat on the stoop that morning.

Horrible things happen every day in Washington. Murders, muggings, sexual assaults. And yet TC Maslin’s case managed to capture the attention of the city. Maybe it’s because his attackers remained at large for weeks. Or because TC, Abby and Jack were such a picture-perfect family. He, the athletic, ambitious husband. She, the pretty, schoolteacher wife. Their adorable child.

If TC had been murdered, he would have been a statistic, and she would have been a grieving widow faced with a loss that was hard to bear but easy to understand. But he had survived, and that made things more complicated. “There’s this place between life and death that is in some ways a bigger battle than death,” she says. “And that’s where we were.”

For those who remember the Eddie Polec murder case in 1994, this book will speak of a truly haunting and surreal human experience. TC and Abby’s marriage extended beyond Disney love and date nights. Their love may have been love in the purest and truest form: a bond that couldn’t be broken. You can find this book in the New Adult Nonfiction section.

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Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.

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