“. . . . Rosenhaupt bravely chronicles her son’s setbacks and probes the cruel coincidences of her own experience. . . . Passages from Rosenhaupt’s notebooks, letters, and emails aid the graceful reconstruction of scenes. The language is simple but heartfelt: “We never talk about what we fear most. We don’t fall apart. We are holding our breath.” Most chapters are headed by apt poetic epigraphs; as a former poetry editor and English teacher, Rosenhaupt knows literature’s power to soothe. . . . A well-crafted memoir that creates meaning. . . .” -- Kirkus Reviews
clear eyes and writerly skill
Elise Rosenhaupt recounts a deep family tragedy with clear eyes and writerly skill. Her story will resonate with anyone who has endured a similar crisis, and besides that, it is a darn good read.
- William deBuys, author of The Walk and River of Traps
a riveting, powerful true story
Elise Rosenhaupt weaves together an unexpected shattering event, a life hanging in the balance, and a resourceful, tight knit family into a riveting, powerful true story. This is a wonderful, surprising, rewarding book. I loved it.
- John Jay Osborn, Jr., author of The Paper Chase and The Associates
quietly and sensitively written
Compulsively readable . . . quietly and sensitively written . . . . about family, about hanging together and letting go, about being aware and taking note, about stretching one’s capacities to love and endure.
- Wendy Mnookin, author of Dinner with Emerson and What He Took
the resilience of our spirits
This is how recovery is done when it’s done right, when you marvel at the frailty of our bodies and the resilience of our spirits.
- Jesse Kornbluth, Head Butler
Her close observations of what is happening from the medical and logistical side are matched by her equally close observations of what is happening on the emotional side.
- Jim Levy, author of Cooler Than October Sunlight and Joy To Come
spaces that allow the meaning to grow
. . . . from the very first words I was plunged into the midst of the crisis, holding my breath as it unfolded. [The] writing is rich and spare and specific, full of spaces that allow the meaning to grow in the quiet between the words. When she tells the doctor "his heart is good", you can feel . . . how that simple statement will resound in her forever. . . . As she says along the way, "Being present takes strength and every minute is full."
- Andree T. Ward
an amazing recovery
Elise Rosenhaupt’s Climbing Back is a gem. Taut, beautiful prose . . . . Woven within this narrative are deep insights into an amazing young man, the parenting that produced him, the wider family history and dynamics, the wonder of friends, and savvy navigation through the medical system. A compelling read for all and a must for any parent dealing with a child’s injury or, for that matter, anyone dealing with the medical system.
- Frank D. Katz
a template for compassion and being awake . . .
It's been nearly a year since I read Climbing Back and I find the depth, care and wisdom continuously inspiring and instructive. This is a very personal and perceptive account of how to deal with a reality none of us would want to face - a potentially fatal accident of a beloved son. If you or someone you knew were in critical condition you would want the facsimile of this author and her family to be at your bedside. They didn’t miss a trick. They worked as a team. They assessed what they didn’t know and found ways to trust in their decisions. They also learned an essential piece to health-care, that is, to question and to read the patient, in this case their son - not only from test results and by weighing statistical data, but from a combination of science, professional advice, instinctual knowing and listening. Here we see a family at its best - with the ability to form a team and plow through the ever-changing dynamics of healing. Elise Rosenhaupt helps us consider how we may call up the best of ourselves, within confusion and adversity, so we may lay down the foundations for patient, family, friends and practitioners to heal and move forward. I particularly appreciated the weaving of anecdotal stories about family members and the author’s writings during the ordeal. In so doing, she fleshed out all the more, the very human story of resilience and recovery. This book is a template for compassion and being awake particularly when the chips are down. ALL THUMBS UP. READ THIS BOOK!
- Kindle Reader
. . . because I was there
For a long time, I was afraid to read Elise's book, because I was there. I was an eyewitness, not to the accident, but to almost everything else starting within an hour of her son's admission to the Intensive Care Unit. I could barely see Martin through the tubes, pipes, wires, bandages and wrappings. He was lying there all alone, while Tom and Elise were making their way to Boston as fast as they could. It was a tough, grueling, scary time. And it seemed to last forever. It did go on for years. As a legal advocate for many brain injured clients over the decades, I was too familiar with the territory. My experience did not allow me much room for optimism. Brain injury does not often end well. But Martin proved to be the exception and he obviously climbed all the way back, not without taking many agonizing steps along the trail. So I approached "Climbing Back" with trepidation. I wasn't sure I wanted to revisit that time. When I finally tackled it, I couldn't let it go. I learned from it that I hadn't known half of what was going on with Martin and his family in their recovery. It was truly their recovery. And in the end I put the book down with great satisfaction at having read a fascinating, scary, and unforgettable love story.
- Clint Smith, attorney
Love and being present can work wonders
Mothers naturally tend to worry about their children, but worrying is exhausting and ineffective. Love and being present, however, can work wonders. This story of a mother’s journey with her son as he recovers from traumatic brain injury brings the reader through heartbreak and a feeling of helplessness to lessons in trusting instincts, being persistent, and appreciating family and community. We can all learn from these invaluable lessons.
- Kathy P., young mother
strength, insight, and reassurance
My wife died of brain cancer five years ago . . . . I resonated with much of what Elise Rosenhaupt describes in her eloquent memoir--about the fragility of the human brain, the inadequacies of our health care system, the capacity of our bodies to restore themselves, and vital (in fact, essential) role that family, friends, and kind strangers play in times of need. This book gave me strength, insight, and reassurance that I believe will serve other readers as well, but especially those confronted by the frustrating conundrum of a brain that doesn't do what it once did.
- Richard Mahler, writer, editor, naturalist
rich and fulfilling life
With Climbing Back, Elise Rosenhaupt gives us an intelligent and compassionate record of her family’s experience of traumatic injury. Her prose is both immediate and reflective, as she weaves insights stimulated by crisis into a narrative of ordinary action and feeling. . . . incidents of daily life are the material she uses to bring her story of a family and community responding to a violent shattering of normalcy.
. . . . Rosenhaupt moves seamlessly between the urgent present of his recovery and past (and future) injuries suffered by her father, mother, husband, and even herself. As her English mother most likely read in her Book of Common Prayer during the Second World War: Media vita in morte sumus / In the midst of life we are in death. But Rosenhaupt barely gives notice to conventional morbidity. In the close presence of death, she and her family find rich and fulfilling life.
- Robert Conway, art curator
Listen to Mary-Charlotte Domandi's conversation with Elise Rosenhaupt on Santa Fe Radio Cafe. [KSFR, Sept. 3, 2015.]