‘Gone’ Book Review

By Rachel Marsh | December 10th, 2020

A memoir of love, body, and taking back my life, by Linda Olson

Gone by Linda OlsonAs we trudge through a strange year of uncertainty and discouragement, a memoir touting “hope against all odds” might just be the kick you need to finish out your year.

Gone, written by Linda Olson, tells the true tale of a woman who, after a tragic accident, lived her adult life with only one arm and no legs. Though no one would blame her for drowning in a world of sorrow, she goes on to thrive as a successful doctor and mother of two.

Her optimism is almost infectious – something we frankly can’t get enough of in 2020.

Growing From Tragedy

The story draws in its readers quickly, as Olson starts off with an intense and vivid recounting of the accident that started it all. From there, as you may have guessed, her life was forever changed.

She doesn’t spend more time than necessary outlining the accident, but instead stories us through a timeline of her post-legs life. And as an ambitious 30-year-old radiology resident, Olson refuses to let anything – even a missing arm and set of legs – stand in the way of the life plans she’d set.

Upon returning to the United States, in fact, she successfully finishes her residency – all while living alone (she and her husband were studying in different cities!). Oh, and did I mention she was pregnant during this time, too?

Through this and many other stories (like traveling, or learning how to drive!), it’s clear from the start that Olson viewed her accident as more of an inconvenient hurdle than a dead-end brick wall.

So, if you’re seeking a “why me” kind of story … you won’t find it here.

That being said, she certainly doesn’t gloss over the challenges that she and her husband faced, especially in the beginning. 

Her honesty, in fact, is refreshing. She’s open about the obstacles you may not have even considered. For example, she writes about the extreme costs of trying to build a handicap accessible home; of trying to raise a family; and, of course, of the immense difficulty of a fiercely independent woman losing her independence in an instant.

A Love Story Tucked Within

The book is primarily about a woman’s sudden handicap and her efforts to regain normalcy; but interwoven is a powerful narrative about unconditional love.

Only having been married a few years when the accident happened, Olson expresses fears throughout the book that her young, attractive, and successful husband will leave her for someone with less baggage (and two legs).

The memoir also features snippets by Dave himself; reflections and memories from his perspective throughout the journey. It’s interesting to hear his side of the story; and we discover how he managed to stay optimistic even when it seemed impossible.

An Unbelievable Tale

If Gone were fiction, you might find yourself rolling your eyes at the protagonist’s unrealistic accomplishments and boundless optimism. 

But, as a nonfiction book, your eyerolls will likely be replaced with goosebumps considering these “unrealistic accomplishments” were not concocted by a writer’s imagination, but are, in fact, part of a very true – and wildly inspiring – story.

Gone: A Memoir of Love, Body, and Taking Back My Life, by Linda K. Olson

She Writes Press (Oct. 27, 2020)

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