Crash Is the Heartbreaking Memoir You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

Be struck by excellent storytelling and raw honesty.

crash, a memoir

A good memoir author is usually someone who has had a unique experience, or is an insightful and compelling writer who doesn’t hold back on any details or emotions. Luckily for readers, Rachel Michelberg is both—she’s “a frank writer…. continually willing to unpack her guilt while also exploring options for her own emotional survival” (Kirkus Reviews).

“In sickness and in health, til death do us part.” It’s a vow that many newlyweds make without seriously considering just how difficult becoming a full time caretaker to your partner would be—and one that pushed Rachel to her limit.

In her award-winning debut memoir, Rachel recounts how she was faced with the unimaginable when her husband, David, was in a plane crash. He survived, but after months in the hospital, he is still left with severe brain damage. Now Rachel has to decide whether she can become a caregiver to an irrational, incontinent man who regularly has seizures. Complicating the issue even further is the fact that their marriage was already crumbling before the accident, leading Rachel to having an affair. 

Rachel no longer loves David, and she has no idea how she’ll care for both him and their two children, but she still feels extreme guilt at the idea of leaving him when he needs her most. Despite her affair, she considers herself a nice person—a good person—who was raised to do the honorable thing. And good people don’t abandon their disabled partners.

Related: The Best Biographies and Memoirs for Every Kind of Reader

Rachel’s moral dilemma tackles a few different issues: the emotional and physical burdens placed on family caregivers; the expectation that a marriage should withstand every and any challenge; the pressure to sacrifice yourself in order to be a good person. 

While her moral dilemma clearly makes for a compelling memoir, it’s Michelberg’s writing that keeps readers invested in her story. Unfiltered honesty (“Will I have to deal with a catheter?…Will I have to have sex with him?”), intense emotions, dark humor and skillful prose all draw you in, and will keep you thinking about her impossible situation long after the last page.

crash, a memoir

Crash: How I Became a Reluctant Caregiver

By Rachel Michelberg

“I read this book cover to cover and then finally remembered to breathe. Crash is a profoundly human story told with grace and raw honesty. Michelberg is courageous enough to put all of herself into the pages, and we are all the better for it. Crash will stay with you―in your mind, heart, and gut―for a long time after you finish it.”

―MARK LUKACH, international best-selling author of 

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward