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Vicki Forman gave birth to Evan and Ellie, weighing just a pound at birth, at twenty-three weeks’ gestation. During the delivery she begged the doctors to "let her babies go" — she knew all too well that at twenty-three weeks they could very well die and, if they survived, they would face a high risk of permanent disabilities. However, California law demanded resuscitation. Her daughter died just four days later; her son survived and was indeed multiply disabled: blind, nonverbal, and dependent on a feeding tube.

This Lovely Life tells, with brilliant intensity, of what became of the Forman family after the birth of the twins — the harrowing medical interventions and ethical considerations involving the sanctity of life and death. In the end, the longdelayed first steps of a five-year-old child will seem like the fist-pumping stuff of a triumph narrative. Forman’s intelligent voice gives a sensitive, nuanced rendering of her guilt, her anger, and her eventual acceptance in this portrait of a mother’s fierce love for her children.

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