A couple in their forties, Vicky and Steve Bates decide to adopt two children to expand their family. Their first son, Rocky Bates, was riddled with numerous health issues from birth, resulting in frequent trips to the emergency room and long, sleepless nights. Amidst the trials and tribulations of Rocky’s childhood, Vicky and Steve discovered the unconditional love between parent and child. After a few years, they decide to adopt another child, Jackson, despite the limited amount of medical history provided in adoptions. Jackson, unlike Rocky, turned out to be the poster child for infants: sociable, happy, and healthy. For years, the Bates managed to keep Rocky’s health under control through means of constant medical checkups and countless trips to the hospital. Things seemed manageable until the ultimate tragedy of Rocky’s passing.
In a heart-wrenching memoir, Vicky Bates recalls the joys and struggles of parenting and the complete devastation that results with the loss of a child. Bates expresses with a poignant voice the pain that a parent goes through with the unexpected death of a child. Her use of candid language that possesses a frank and truly human tone that carries throughout the entirety of the memoir. Even for those who are not parents or even those who have not experienced such pain, Bates clearly evokes an emotion that connects with every reader. Following a chronological timeline, the reader can acutely feel Vicky Bates’ emotions while watching her children grow up, whether it be panic and worry when Rocky experiences an allergic reaction or the simple joys of children being children. While difficult at times to read, Empty Jacket provides a deep, cathartic experience for the reader while still being fully engaging throughout. Empty Jacket is a memoir that I would recommend to all readers regardless of their usual reading genres.
Emily York is a literary addict born and raised in New Jersey, balancing late-night reading with the tortures of high school. After reading Treasure Island in first grade, Emily developed a love for the classics, spanning from Tolstoy to Dumas, Shakespeare to Virgil, Bronte to Austen, and many others. Along with a passion for reading, she is an avid musician, playing the piano, viola, violin, cello, and the guitar, as well as being a fencer on her high school team.
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