Slings and Arrows is a moving account of the loss of a child. Julie Elizabeth Powell’s second daughter, Samantha, was born with major heart defects and having survived surgery, the hope was that she would be able to recover fully and lead a normal life. However, this was not to be. Samantha’s heart stopped beating when she was in her third year, and although she was resuscitated, she suffered a huge amount of brain damage. She eventually died, for a second time, when she was seventeen.
This account is far from being a straightforward chronicle of events in the lives of Samantha and her family: it is an honest examination of the author’s emotions and feelings during all of her precious child’s life and after. The guilt that she had not given birth to a perfect child; the fear that she would inadvertently harm her delicate baby; the relief when the initial surgery seemed to work so well – these are all feelings that many mothers have felt to a greater or lesser degree. However, the terrible escalation of these emotions after Samantha’s first death and the introduction of so many others, comprise our worst nightmares.
This is a courageous and moving book. We can feel the author’s pain throughout and there is so much to admire in the way in which she has coped with living. I was glad to read that she found some solace in her family, in studying and that writing has provided such a lifeline for her. What could have been a purely bleak read proved to be a thought provoking and, in, many ways, inspirational experience.