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HCI Book Review: From This Day Forward

“This is where it all began. On a cold January day with fresh fallen snow on the roads, beautifully formed icicles on tree limbs and a hopeless drunk behind the wheel of a car. This is where my story ended and a new journey began. Right then, in that moment, on the side of the road, in that accident was when everything changed for me.” – From This Day Forward



When Amy Baumgardner got behind the wheel of her car drunk, with her two children in the backseat, she didn’t realize the impact that day would have on her life, her children, her marriage, and her future. From This Day Forward is a harrowing account of alcoholism, a ruptured marriage, a broken family, and the courage it takes to put it all back together again. 


Amy and Matt Baumgardner met in middle school, became friends, and eventually fell in love. Their marriage and early life together was a whirlwind of romance and happiness, followed by the joy of their two children. However, with the emergence of a secret Matt had kept from her involving a workplace flirtation, Amy’s deep-rooted insecurities about abandonment and deception threw her into depression and alcoholism. Her daily regimen of diet pills, alcohol, and antianxiety medication was keeping her “relaxed and checked out” and allowed her to mentally withdraw from her stresses and sources of fear. 


From This Day Forward describes the struggles of the Baumgardners through the points of view of Amy and Matt. Amy divulges her longing for escape, and how alcohol helped to calm the worry and unease she felt about the issues surrounding her marriage. Matt presents his own troubling experiences—living with an unemployed, increasingly alcoholic wife; fearing for the lives of his children when their mother drives drunk with them in the car; and facing questions from the police, family, and friends as a result of Amy’s lies. 


Eventually, rock bottom happened for the Baumgardners—Matt and Amy chronicle the event with heartbreaking emotion and honesty. When Amy was on her way to Delaware to take her children ice-skating and see her family, she stopped at a bar to purchase a six-pack of Coors Light, five mini-bottles of Southern Comfort, and a four-pack of Sutter Home White Zinfandel. As the day drew to a close and it was time to go home, Amy realized that her light buzz had turned into much more. “I flopped myself behind the wheel and had a moment of pause. I’m not okay to drive,” writes Amy. “Just that quick, the moment was gone and I put the keys into the ignition and started the engine.” Matt arrived on the scene to find his wife’s car in horrific condition, his children in the back of an ambulance, and his wife loaded onto a stretcher. The realization that their daughter could die as a result of Amy’s drinking proved to be the last straw for him.


In From This Day Forward, the Baumgardners relive the sting of a potential divorce, the crushing blow of relapse, the hopelessness of a suicide attempt, and finally, the moment when things change. They allow their readers to see the forgiveness of a child, to feel the anger subside in the face of real transformation, and to learn that love is something that can bloom again despite the hard times.  



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