Book Review: Nobody Ever Dies When I’m Around by Jane Baker

Today, Aimee Terravechia reviews “Nobody Ever Dies When I’m Around: A Lifetime of Feeling Left Out” by Jane Baker

3.5 stars

Jane Baker recounts some of the most poignant and painful moments of her life in her memoir Nobody Ever Dies When I’m Around, all while maintaining a healthy sardonic wit. Organized into the categories of her life, the book takes readers on a journey through her experiences as a theater-geek lesbian growing up in a Catholic household, all the way to a confident queer mom teaching in Vermont.

Baker originally began writing the book after her son’s cancer diagnosis compelled her to survey her life and take record of the events that molded her personhood. Throughout its pages she writes of the untimely deaths of two of her brothers, the way in which her family coped with grief, with her coming out, and with her life choices. Baker is able to keep a balance throughout the book, juxtaposing the tragic with the comedic. She keeps her humor at every leg of the journey and is able to reflect with a clarity and grace unimaginable to most.

The book is written in the style of many modern memoirs, splicing essays with lists and shorter musings. There are many aspects of her life that I am drawn to, and I found myself wishing she’d teased out just a few more details from many of the anecdotes included. It’s a refreshing take on a variety of difficult subjects, and despite its heavy subject matter, remains a wonderfully uplifting read. As with life, there are moments of despair without, but Baker is able to pull in hope every step of the way.