I have been listening to Bewilderment by Richard Powers and it has utterly touched my heart. It is the story of an astrobiologist searching for life in the cosmos while raising a neurodivergent son alone, after the unexpected death of his beloved wife. Based on that one sentence I never, ever would have picked this book. But it’s endearing and painful and moving all at once.
“There I was, still getting paid to prepare how to discover whether we were alone, or surrounded by crazy neighbors. Ali and I had more projects than we had hours. Then our lives changed thanks to the 1.5% failure rate of our favorite birth control. The unlikely roll stunned us both. It seemed a break in our long streak, the worst possible timing for an event we might never have chosen for ourselves. Our careers already stretched us to the limits. Neither of us had the knowledge or wherewithal to raise child. A decade later, I see the truth. Every morning I wake up, if Ali and I had been in charge, the luckiest thing in my life, the thing that kept me going when all the luck in the world went cold, would never have existed. Not even in my wildest models.”