Edmonton-based author Jennifer Bowering Delisle defines micrographia as “tiny writing, common in certain degenerative neurological disorders.” Micrographia is also the title of Delisle’s book, which embodies both hope and loss in the form of riveting lyric essays. She explores her experience with infertility while simultaneously losing her mother to a rare neurological disease: Multiple System Atrophy (MSA).
Delisle wrote each essay with such heavy emotion and detail, allowing for vividly painted scenes in the reader’s mind. She brings together two halves of one whole as she explores the parallels of becoming a mother while losing one, and how humans connect with the world while navigating extreme change.
The plot weaves through significant moments in Delisle’s life, building our understanding of her relationship with herself and others. The structure of Delisle’s writing makes it feel as if we are growing with her, making her hardships more impactful.
Delisle is not afraid to be vulnerable. She describes the experience of her body hemorrhaging after each of her miscarriages, and sitting next to her mother as she took her final breath. Her descriptions of these events have incredible detail, and I felt as if I was experiencing these moments alongside her. I couldn’t help but become entranced in the story, eager to discover how Delisle deals with these experiences.
Delisle not only describes the pain associated with these tragedies, but shows how these events affect the relationships we have with the people and world around us in a unique way. At one point, Delisle is going home when she notices a couple comforting each other in their vehicle. This reminds her of a similar situation she experienced with her husband after leaving an unfortunate ultrasound. She empathetically wonders “what stories those strangers [saw], and what private griefs returned for them?”
It is intriguing to consider how these life-altering events change the way in which we experience our surroundings and how we interact with others, given our recently acquired knowledge. I found myself wondering how these experiences alter our interactions with or judgements about other people. How do people treat us differently after they learn of difficult situations that we have experienced? How do these experiences, in turn, alter our perceptions of ourselves and others?
This book begins with a memory that eventually builds into an incredibly striking story. Delisle’s ability to be vulnerable and honest with her readers is extremely refreshing, allowing her essays to truly resonate with the reader. I picked up this book because the unique nature of Delisle’s situation intrigued me. However, it surprised me how much of her story resonated with me. Her book is a truly immersive experience for anyone willing to listen.
The resilience that Delisle demonstrates both impressed and empowered me, as a woman and a human being. One of the several lessons that I took away from this book is that perseverance is truly important not in times of strength, but in times of weakness.
“Micrographia” is a story that everyone should pay attention to. Not only is it moving — it is an eloquent expression of what is a common struggle for so many. Infertility and losing one’s mother are both tragedies that most, if not all, women can relate to. Delisle touchingly empathizes with this pain as she shares her experience.
This collection of lyric essays is not only a beautiful retelling of one woman’s experience. It is an homage to women everywhere.