Beyond the high blue air: a memoir

Book Cover
Average Rating
Pub. Date:

"Like The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Beyond the High Blue Air is a spare, sharp memoir about the speed with which a comfortable existence can be blighted by grief." --Bee Wilson, The Sunday Times

Lu Spinney's memoir Beyond the High Blue Air is at once a portrait of the fearlessness of familial love and the profound dilemma posed by modern medicine. When Spinney's twenty-nine-year-old son, Miles, flies up on his snowboard, "he knows he is not in control as he is taken by force up the ramp," writes his mother, "skewing sideways as his board clips the edge and then he is hurtling, spinning up, up into the free blue sky ahead . . ." He lands hard on the ice and falls into a coma.

Thus begins the erratic loss-- Miles first in a coma and then trapped in a fluctuating state of minimal consciousness--that unravels over the next five years. Spinney, her husband, and three other children put their lives on hold to tend to Miles at various hospitals and finally in a care home. They hold out hope that he will be returned to them. With blunt precision, Spinney chronicles her family's intimate experience.

And yet, as personal a book as this is, it offers universal meaning, presenting an eloquent and piercing description of what it feels to witness an intimate become unfamiliar. This is a story about ambiguous loss: the disappearance of someone who is still there. Three quarters of the way through, however, Spinney's story takes a turn. The family and, to the degree that he can communicate, Miles himself come to view ending his life as the only possible release from the prison of his body and mind. Spinney, cutting her last thread of hope, wishes for her son to die. And yet, even as she allows this difficult revelation to settle, she learns that this is not her decision to make. Because Miles is diagnosed as being in a "minimally conscious state" rather than a "persistent vegetative state," there is no legal way to bring about his death, a bewildering paradox that Spinney navigates with compassion and wisdom. This profound book encompasses the lyrical revelations of a memoir like Jean-Dominique Bauby's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly as well as the crucial medical and moral insights of a book such as Atul Gawande's Being Mortal.

Also in This Series
More Like This
More Details
Staff View

Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID2d66a866-ea24-d8eb-b408-9c27c4452fa3
Grouping Titlebeyond the high blue air a memoir
Grouping Authorspinney lu
Grouping Categorybook
Last Grouping Update2019-08-29 10:33:32AM
Last Indexed2019-10-21 04:18:00AM

Solr Details

authorSpinney, Lu,
author_displaySpinney, Lu
available_at_aacplAnnapolis Library
Crofton Library
Deale Library
Severna Park Library
detailed_location_aacplAnnapolis Library - Nonfiction
Crofton Library - Nonfiction
Deale Library - Nonfiction
Severna Park Library - Nonfiction
Bib IdItem IdShelf LocCall NumFormatFormat CategoryNum CopiesIs Order ItemIs eContenteContent SourceeContent FileeContent URLsubformatDetailed StatusLast CheckinLocationSub-location
ils:a138276731997099849655Annapolis Library - Nonfiction155.937 S1falsefalseOn ShelfMar 08, 2018ANN
ils:a138276731997099849648Severna Park Library - Nonfiction155.937 S1falsefalseOn ShelfFeb 12, 2018S-PK
ils:a138276731997099849663Crofton Library - Nonfiction155.937 S1falsefalseOn ShelfJun 15, 2019CRO
ils:a138276731997099849630Deale Library - Nonfiction155.937 S1falsefalseOn ShelfJul 23, 2018SCO
itype_aacplAdult Nonfiction
literary_formNon Fiction
literary_form_fullNon Fiction
local_callnumber_aacpl155.937 S
owning_library_aacplAnne Arundel County Public Library
owning_location_aacplAnnapolis Library
Crofton Library
Deale Library
Severna Park Library
Bib IdFormatFormat CategoryEditionLanguagePublisherPublication DatePhysical Description
ils:a1382767BookBooksEnglishCatapult, [2016]258 pages : illustraitons ; 21 cm
Bib IdItem IdGrouped StatusStatusLocally OwnedAvailableHoldableBookableIn Library Use OnlyLibrary OwnedHoldable PTypesBookable PTypesLocal Url
ils:a138276731997099849655On ShelfOn Shelffalsetruetruefalsefalsetrue
ils:a138276731997099849648On ShelfOn Shelffalsetruetruefalsefalsetrue
ils:a138276731997099849663On ShelfOn Shelffalsetruetruefalsefalsetrue
ils:a138276731997099849630On ShelfOn Shelffalsetruetruefalsefalsetrue
Brain -- Wounds and injuries
Kemp, Miles -- Death and burial
Kemp, Miles -- Health
Mothers and sons
Persistent vegetative state -- Patients -- England -- Biography
Persistent vegetative state -- Patients -- Family relationships -- England
Snowboarding -- Accidents
Spinney, Lu -- Family
title_displayBeyond the high blue air : a memoir
title_fullBeyond the high blue air : a memoir / Lu Spinney
title_shortBeyond the high blue air
title_suba memoir
Death and burial
Family relationships
Kemp, Miles
Mothers and sons
Persistent vegetative state
Spinney, Lu
Wounds and injuries