Pieces You’ll Never Get Back

A Memoir of Unlikely Survival

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Book Description

A life-altering neurological disorder. A traumatic birth. An unlikely survival. Pieces You’ll Never Get Back is a harrowing and redemptive memoir, in which a new mother must reconstruct her shattered mind, her relationship to her religious upbringing, and her life’s purpose

At 29, as a young writer working on her first novel, Samina Ali nearly died giving birth to her son. Miraculously, she survived the unchecked eclampsia that had endangered her pregnancy, instead sustaining major brain injury and falling into a coma as she gave birth. When she woke up, only her deepest memories were intact. Her husband was a stranger to her, she didn’t remember having a baby, and any language other than her native Urdu was foreign. Medical consensus was she would never recover—much less write—again.  

Advised to think of her brain as a shattered puzzle, Ali began the long and difficult journey of piecing herself back together: learning to walk, speak, and accomplish basic human tasks alongside her newborn. She attempted to reckon with her past identity as a writer and a wife, and her new identity as a mother. Despite her miraculous survival, the disconnect between the old and the new self was devastating. It would be three years before she felt remotely normal, and seven before she was mended and could fully connect with her son. 

Ali pairs the story of her “death” and recovery with the parallel narrative of her relationship to her Islamic upbringing and her fluctuating connection to her faith, incorporating meditations on religious narratives of death, the afterlife, resurrection, and reincarnation. Both deeply personal and steeped in religious thought, Pieces You’ll Never Get Back is a uniquely propulsive, searching, and ultimately, inspiring work of memoir.

About the Author