I am I amThis is a new memoir by novelist Maggie O’Farrell who lived through some horrifying experiences–seventeen brushes with death. Some are more chilling than others, like the time she met and almost succumbed to a serial killer.

Other times were less dramatic like the time that she jumped off a harbor wall into the sea from a cliff. 

Being Irish, she was cognizant of the cliffs and raging seas, yet her desire to experience wildness got the better of her. Worst still, a bout with encephalitis during childhood left her with limited spatial awareness. When she dropped herself into the sea at night, she was unable to tell which way was up and which was down.

When O’Farrell is close to death, the miraculous often happens. The only one who strives to save her from drowning is a boy who secretly harbors a crush for her.

O’Farrell writes about being aware that she is about to die (at age 8) from encephalitis, her near drowning in Africa, and a tropical disease she acquired while visiting China, as well as many other instances she came close to dying.

Instead of feeling unlucky, O’Farrell feels incredibly lucky that she has traveled and has escaped many horrifying situations. 

In the last few chapters, she writes poignantly of her own child and her recovery from a severe allergic reaction.

A cleverly written book, this memoir also gives readers a deeper appreciation for life.