Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
Finalist for the National Book Circle Critics Award

Everyone who cherishes the gift of language will cherish Diane Ackerman's narrative masterpiece, an exquisitely written love story and medical miracle story, one that combines science, inspiration, wisdom, and heart.

One day Ackerman's husband, Paul West, an exceptionally gifted wordsmith and intellectual, suffered a terrible stroke. When he regained awareness he was afflicted with aphasia—loss of language—and could utter only a single syllable: "mem." The standard therapies yielded little result but frustration. Diane soon found, however, that by harnessing their deep knowledge of each other and her scientific understanding of language and the brain she could guide Paul back to the world of words. This triumphant book is both a humane and revealing addition to the medical literature on stroke and aphasia and an exquisitely written love story: a magnificent addition to literature, period.




"A testament to the power of creativity in language, life—and love." — Washington Post

"A gorgeously engrossing, affecting, sweetly funny, and mind-opening love story of crisis, determination, creativity, and repair." — Booklist

"This book has done what no other has for me in recent years: it has renewed my faith in the redemptive power of love, the need to give and get it unstintingly, to hold nothing back, settle for nothing less, because when flesh and being and even life fall away, love endures. This book is proof."  Abraham Verghese, New York Times Book Review


“Breathtaking . . . hollowed out my chest . . . A splendid book.” Cleveland Plain Dealer

Diane Ackerman's most enjoyable, intimate, and heartrending work yet." — Atul Gawande


“Moving… Ms. Ackerman won me over…intensely engaging… intimate.” Paula Span, New York Times’  Blog “The New Old Age”


“Finally, this is a story about Ackerman's love for West, a love beyond fathoming, and probably beyond words.” — Seattle Times



© 2022 Diane Ackerman