Search This Blog

Thursday, March 06, 2008

In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing

Woodruff, Lee, and Bob Woodruff. In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing. Lee Woodruff began keeping a journal after her husband's injury because she knew that the reporter in him would want the details and discovered that the journal was a way of healing for both of them. The journal turned into a "panoramic view of a marriage and a family, a crisis and a recovery."

Lee Woodruff was in Orlando, Florida enjoying Disney World with her four children when the call came to inform her that Bob had been injured in Iraq. Bob had only recently become Co-anchor for ABC News and was pleased that the job included travel and reporting as well as anchoring the news. He loved the exciting parts of a journalist's job and was embedded with the military when the IED that caused such terrible damage exploded.

Lee: "You can't know how you would behave in a crisis until it drops out of the sky and knocks you down like a bandit: stealing your future, robbing you of your dreams, and mocking anything that resembles certainty. Sudden tragic events and even slow-burning disasters teach us more about ourselves than most of us care to know."

The book, however, is much more than the account of Bob's injury and slow recovery; it is the story of a marriage and all of the difficulties that are involved in such a commitment. The book moves back in forth in time - from the time of Bob's injury, back through the couple's courtship, the fear and trauma in the present, and the events of the past that worked for and against their marriage. It also moves back and forth between two voices - from Lee to Bob, and back again.

I found the book all the more interesting and important because of the struggles, because of Lee's frequent resentment when faced with uprooting and moving her family time and again to accommodate Bob's rising career. I would have been less impressed with the Woodruff's journey if Lee had never felt the sense of abandonment that can creep in when things go wrong and your husband isn't around to help. And there were events before Bob's injury-- a miscarriage, a hysterectomy, a hearing-impaired child-- that required strength and resiliency.

That is what commitment is, I think: being able to deal with the anger, confusion, frustration, grief, and fear... and maintain the love at the same time.

I found this book interesting in several ways: the story of a marriage; the story of a young man who left his law career, first to teach in China and later to pursue a career in journalism; the story of a wife who supported his career moves, as difficult as they were; the story of family, immediate and extended; the story of friendships, particularly the friendship that developed between Bob and David Bloom and between Lee and Melanie Bloom; the story of a traumatic brain injury (Woodruff lost half of his skull, which was later replaced with an acrylic skull plate); the story of efforts to improve the situation for others with TBI - Traumatic Brain Injury.

For me, the book was moving without being maudlin, informative, and involving.

Some links to more information about the Woodruff's and the book are here, and here, and here.

Nonfiction. Memoir. 2008. 292 pages.


  1. Great review! I'll keep an eye peeled for this one...

  2. Thanks for the review, Jenclair. I've been tempted by this one a couple of times now but haven't pulled the trigger yet...maybe next time, now.

  3. Thanks for this great review. The book does indeed sound very interesting.

  4. This is a book I need to get hold of. We forget just how vulnerable of many different people in war zones are. Frank Gardner here in the UK is another such who has survived terrible injuries and is now working again. Thanks.

  5. That sounds like a really good book. It seems like any newsworthy event means an automatic book deal, these days, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're worth reading. It's nice to know about the ones that are worth the time. Thanks for the review!

  6. Holy smokes! I leave town for a week and you've posted a bunch, including a drawing I completely missed out on. I guess I'll live. It's not like I don't have enough books piled up all around the house already. You've read some interesting books while I've been gone.

    Very nice of your husband to suggest 2 new walls of bookshelves and more shelves in the sewing room. I'll keep my fingers crossed that your remodeling project goes much faster than mine.

  7. It sounds like quite an inspiring tale. I don't know if I want to read the book, but clearly it could be an uplifting tale.

    And I agree; you are lucky to have a husband willing to give you bookshelves!

  8. I remember hearing a lot about this book when it first came out. Sounds inspiring!

  9. Wow! This sounds so interesting! It's rare these days to see a marriage stand up under something like that. I'm newly married myself, and I love stories of marriages that have perservered. Great review!