Beyond the High Blue Air
Aged just 29, gifted, athletic and loved, Lu Spinney's son Miles was on the brink of a brilliant future. Then a snowboarding accident changed everything. He suffered a devastating head injury and was left in a coma.With unflinching honesty, Lu has written a passionate, urgent account of the years following Miles's accident, revealing his existence imprisoned in a limbo of fluctuating consciousness, at times agonizingly aware of his predicament. Beyond the High Blue Air explores the nature of self when all means of communication are lost, the anguish of witnessing Miles's suffering and the slow-dawning recognition by his family that, though Miles had been prevented from dying, he had not been brought back to a meaningful life. Beyond the High Blue Air is a bold, raw, courageous memoir: a testament to the fierce power of maternal love.

Beyond the High Blue Air Details

TitleBeyond the High Blue Air
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 5th, 2016
PublisherAtlantic Books
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Adventure, Survival

Beyond the High Blue Air Review

  • Rebecca Foster
    January 1, 1970
    (Nearly 4.5) In March 2006 Lu Spinney’s 29-year-old son, Miles King, was on a snowboarding holiday in Austria with friends. On the final morning of the trip he took the fall that would leave this athlete, intellectual, and entrepreneur with a traumatic brain injury. The family brought him back to London via an airlift, and over the next five years he passed between various brain injury units and care homes. Eight weeks after the accident he opened his eyes, but given his minimally conscious stat (Nearly 4.5) In March 2006 Lu Spinney’s 29-year-old son, Miles King, was on a snowboarding holiday in Austria with friends. On the final morning of the trip he took the fall that would leave this athlete, intellectual, and entrepreneur with a traumatic brain injury. The family brought him back to London via an airlift, and over the next five years he passed between various brain injury units and care homes. Eight weeks after the accident he opened his eyes, but given his minimally conscious state his only communication would ever be facial expressions and roars of frustration.Pointless to mention just how sad this book is. Spinney tells her tale remarkably well, in a consciously literary style. With no speech marks and present-tense narration, thought and action flow lucidly into dialogue and daydream. She always chooses just the right metaphors, too. I would highly recommend this to readers of other illness and bereavement memoirs written in a literary style, such as Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air or Marion Coutts’s The Iceberg.See my full review at Nudge.
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  • Amy Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. Wow what a beautifully written and emotionally charged read. This story portrays the love a mother feels for her son and her fight to help him get well again after a horrific accident. The decisions she has to make in regards to what is best for him once she realizes how much he is suffering is unimaginable to me as a mother. The fact that she could do what she knew was best for him in the face of her pain of losing him and in the recent death Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. Wow what a beautifully written and emotionally charged read. This story portrays the love a mother feels for her son and her fight to help him get well again after a horrific accident. The decisions she has to make in regards to what is best for him once she realizes how much he is suffering is unimaginable to me as a mother. The fact that she could do what she knew was best for him in the face of her pain of losing him and in the recent death of her husband makes my heart hurt for her going through this. This is a sad but beautiful tribute to her son and his life that was cut much too short.
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  • Rhonda Lomazow
    January 1, 1970
    A gut wrenching raw look at the heartache Lu&her family suffered when her son miles suffered a traumatic brain injury.in a horrible accident At times hard to read but at the same time an unputdownable look at her lovef for her son,
  • Shirley Freeman
    January 1, 1970
    Well I read the ARC, not the kindle edition but whatever. I couldn't put this beautiful memoir down. Lu Spinney had a lovely second husband and four high-achieving twenty-something kids when oldest son Miles, age 29, suffered a traumatic brain injury during a snowboarding accident. Spinney begins by telling the story of his accident from several points of view - including Miles' - though that part was necessarily her imagination, based on deep knowledge and love of her son along with accident re Well I read the ARC, not the kindle edition but whatever. I couldn't put this beautiful memoir down. Lu Spinney had a lovely second husband and four high-achieving twenty-something kids when oldest son Miles, age 29, suffered a traumatic brain injury during a snowboarding accident. Spinney begins by telling the story of his accident from several points of view - including Miles' - though that part was necessarily her imagination, based on deep knowledge and love of her son along with accident reports and reports from his friends. Miles was in a minimally conscious state, one step above a persistent vegetative state, for 5 years. Spinney's language is lovely and unflinching. The family hoped for many months/years that Miles would get better but it eventually became apparent that wasn't going to happen. It became clear to all who loved him that he preferred to die. It also became apparent there was no legal method for that to happen in England. Though this is a memoir of deep suffering, it is also a story of deep love, strength and hope.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Every mother’s nightmare—Lu receives a call that her 29 year old son has been seriously injured in a snowboarding accident. She is in England, and she and the rest of the family hurry to the hospital in Innsbruck where doctors are trying to save his life. Is it possible that the adventurous young man with the Oxford degree will come back to them? Is this what Miles would have wanted? How many actually have an advance directive to make things easier if the unthinkable happens? Intense and at time Every mother’s nightmare—Lu receives a call that her 29 year old son has been seriously injured in a snowboarding accident. She is in England, and she and the rest of the family hurry to the hospital in Innsbruck where doctors are trying to save his life. Is it possible that the adventurous young man with the Oxford degree will come back to them? Is this what Miles would have wanted? How many actually have an advance directive to make things easier if the unthinkable happens? Intense and at times painful to read, this memoir is reminiscent of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.
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  • Marika
    January 1, 1970
    A memoir written about a son's tragic accident and subsequent death is not destined to be an easy read. It's not easy because readers will be able to identify with the author's journey as her son is first in a coma, then in a fluid state of consciousness, until eventually death. A compassionate, raw and intimate journey that no one ever chooses to embark on, but one in which the landmarks must be discussed.I read an advance copy and was not compensated.
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  • Paulina
    January 1, 1970
    Brilliant, heart rending, impossible to put down. I have to add, albeit a few months later that I cannot stop thinking about miles kemp. I have re-read the book 3 times..... I count my blessings, I realise life is short and precious. This book has become a bible in an inspirational way! Thank you Lu
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  • Olga Fry
    January 1, 1970
    Beyond the High Blue Air is a memoir about the love of a mother and her child. In this case, it is March 2006 and her oldest son, Miles, has gone on a backpacking trip with friends to celebrate his birthday. On the last morning of their trip, they set off to go snowboarding. There is a scene in which Miles prepares for this by purchasing a helmet. Miles lands hard on the ice, injuring his brain, and falls into a coma. He is 29-years-old, an entrepreneur and an athlete. That's how hospital staff Beyond the High Blue Air is a memoir about the love of a mother and her child. In this case, it is March 2006 and her oldest son, Miles, has gone on a backpacking trip with friends to celebrate his birthday. On the last morning of their trip, they set off to go snowboarding. There is a scene in which Miles prepares for this by purchasing a helmet. Miles lands hard on the ice, injuring his brain, and falls into a coma. He is 29-years-old, an entrepreneur and an athlete. That's how hospital staff refers to him as well. The first thing, he says, is that you must never reprimand him for doing that jump. It was a brave and wonderful thing to do. He is a young man and young men should all go out and grab life in the way he did.The family flies to Austria from England, Lu's husband Ron staying behind for a few days to give Miles's father a chance to be there without him. The beginning and the middle of the memoir remain hopeful as Miles is transferred to a different facility, he's brought out of his coma, he opens his eyes, he exhibits signs of understanding the world around him. Through it all, the reader observes how Lu keeps it together - it's even referenced at one point - and how palpable her grief is she waits for her son to return to her. I say grief because Miles is neither here nor there but rather in a vegetative state. She is mourning her son while trying to keep him with her as well. In this case we are talking about my son's life and as he is unable to speak for himself, I am his spokesman. Surely you understand it is my duty, my responsibility, to try to understand his situation?The end is certainly no less hopeful, but in a different way. Lu tries to do what she can to ensure her son dies with dignity. Lu is Miles's staunchest advocate and supporter, arranging and re-arranging parts of herself and relationships with others to ensure that Miles is receiving the best treatment and care possible in his minimally conscious state (MCS). This means he was one step above a persistently vegetative state. The legalities are different in the United Kingdom. Had he possessed PVS, the doctors would have been able to remove his suffering. I wish the memoir did a better job of indicating time markers, though in a way, it benefited the memoir since time is an abstract concept here. We flit between Miles's accident, his childhood, adulthood, and before you know it, five years has gone by since his accident. I also liked that Lu Spinney acknowledged her privilege through the memoir, about how she was able to pay for his treatment and other things. The end of the memoir is really what got me, after she has lost Miles and Ron as well, unfortunately. Two years into the accident, he passes away as a result of cancer.The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is mentioned throughout. I could see remnants of it in these pages. At one point, it's revealed that the author and her son read it together when he was 13-years-old. The memoir is a heartwrenching read, albeit very well-written and Lu's suffering as well as those around her is palpable to the reader.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. Oh, my. This one is going to bring tears to my eyes. The author is a lady named Lu Spinney, and this book is about her son, Miles. At age 29 Miles had a terrible and very frightening snowboarding accident that left him in a coma and then in a state of minimal consciousness. This is their story over the 5 years after his accident. I'm a mother and I feel Mrs. Spinney's grief like an arrow to the heart. This book is ab I received this book from Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. Oh, my. This one is going to bring tears to my eyes. The author is a lady named Lu Spinney, and this book is about her son, Miles. At age 29 Miles had a terrible and very frightening snowboarding accident that left him in a coma and then in a state of minimal consciousness. This is their story over the 5 years after his accident. I'm a mother and I feel Mrs. Spinney's grief like an arrow to the heart. This book is about loss and grief, it's also about dying with dignity rather than being trapped in a state of minimal consciousness when hope of recovery is gone.I will update this review when I finish the book. Mrs. Spinney has a very beautiful way with words and I know that Miles's story is going to stay with me for a very long time. Life can change in just an instant and Mrs. Spinney is a brave and compassionate human being for sharing her son's story. I already give this book 5 stars, it's very sad but so very raw and opens up a very important dialogue about what the humane way to allow a death with dignity for someone who we know would not want to live in a minimally conscious state after a traumatic brain injury. This book is very compassionately written.I finished this book in one evening because I could not put it down. An amazing, amazing story. This is quite likely the most raw, angry, tender, compassionate, heartwrenching, sad, joyful, helpless, wondrous, honest, and brave account I have ever read about TBI/Traumatic Brain Injury. The best quote in the book? Lu- "the law is an ass." I have come to new insight about Do Not Resuscitate orders in cases like that of Miles. I shed lots of tears while reading. And Lu amazingly recalls a poignant event from her past as well as describing how while she was enduring this with Miles she was losing her husband to cancer. What a strong lady. She never takes the focus of the book off Miles but I appreciate her sharing bits of her life in the memoir, a life inextricably intertwined with that of her beloved oldest child. I think everyone should read this book. You'll be shaken and touched and have a brand new compassion for people with brain injuries and their caregivers. Ultimately, I'm too human to end this book without feeling very sad for the way Miles' life turned out. I admit, I cried, for those few frightening moments on the mountain that robbed him of his bright future, his dreams, all the experiences we all feel entitled to. His mother remained his warrior until he finally got his peace and relief. One of the most touching stories I have ever read.
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  • Vanessa
    January 1, 1970
    I read this memoir to see if I wanted to include it in a course I am creating and will teach in the fall. Given it is the author's only book, I had low expectations for the writing and thought it would be just another "story" like so many families I've worked with throughout my career. It is not. The author is a vivid writer, sophisticated and intelligent. She articulates the paradox of caring for a loved one in a PVS or MCS so perfectly. This book is beacon of hope and pure validation for the m I read this memoir to see if I wanted to include it in a course I am creating and will teach in the fall. Given it is the author's only book, I had low expectations for the writing and thought it would be just another "story" like so many families I've worked with throughout my career. It is not. The author is a vivid writer, sophisticated and intelligent. She articulates the paradox of caring for a loved one in a PVS or MCS so perfectly. This book is beacon of hope and pure validation for the myriad of emotions that accompany families dealing with prolonged grief. I will be using this for my course.
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  • Francis
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up the book because I snowboards and am at the age when Miles had his accident. Lu Spinney's account of her son's painful deterioration was a touching story. At times I can relate. The part when Miles tried to communicate, and his best effort only resulted in whispers so light that Lu couldn't make out his words reminded me of a similar moment in my life. At times I could only sympathize. The scene where Lu gave Miles a "proper" hug at the time of his passing gave me tears. Although it I picked up the book because I snowboards and am at the age when Miles had his accident. Lu Spinney's account of her son's painful deterioration was a touching story. At times I can relate. The part when Miles tried to communicate, and his best effort only resulted in whispers so light that Lu couldn't make out his words reminded me of a similar moment in my life. At times I could only sympathize. The scene where Lu gave Miles a "proper" hug at the time of his passing gave me tears. Although it was not clearly stated, I think Miles ultimately was able to end his own life by giving in. I'm glad that burden did not fall onto his family.
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  • Vicki Fritz
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful, yet wrenchingA mother's love and battle for her son...from the early days after he suffered a devastating injury, and on through the years as hope becomes determination to help her son achieve peace. The story is so poignant, the writing so lyrical, that Miles becomes every mother's son. I will not forget this amazing young man and his remarkable family as they take a journey no family should ever have to endure.
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  • Karen & Gerard
    January 1, 1970
    This book is written by his mother who details what she and her family went through to see that Miles got the best care he could. What a gut-wrenching story this is! I give so much credit to Lu for writing this to share her nightmare with others. (Gerard's review)
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  • meaghan
    January 1, 1970
    Review coming soon
  • Steph Liston
    January 1, 1970
    The saddest memoir I've ever read!
  • Hayley Brock
    January 1, 1970
    This book is an emotional read, especially if you are the mother of a son, but it is a compelling story that I couldn't put down. It tells how Lu's son Miles received a traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to a snowboarding accident. This left him at first in a coma, then in a minimally concious state, so that he was aware of his situation . This is a story of love, hope and sadness which was very well written. It should also make people aware that it would be sensible to have their wishes regarding This book is an emotional read, especially if you are the mother of a son, but it is a compelling story that I couldn't put down. It tells how Lu's son Miles received a traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to a snowboarding accident. This left him at first in a coma, then in a minimally concious state, so that he was aware of his situation . This is a story of love, hope and sadness which was very well written. It should also make people aware that it would be sensible to have their wishes regarding serious injury down in writing. A great memoir from a first time author on a very poignent subject.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    Lu Spinney writes this book about her beautiful son Miles, who at age 29 has an accident on holiday in Switzerland and suffers a traumatic brain injury. Such a stressful time for the family who wait by his bedside to see if he recovers. To see their handsome, clever and fit son stuck in bed attached to tubes and non responsive is heart wrenching to read, and the story is pretty blunt and emotionally raw in places. Surrounded and supported by a loving and caring family, this is a story about love Lu Spinney writes this book about her beautiful son Miles, who at age 29 has an accident on holiday in Switzerland and suffers a traumatic brain injury. Such a stressful time for the family who wait by his bedside to see if he recovers. To see their handsome, clever and fit son stuck in bed attached to tubes and non responsive is heart wrenching to read, and the story is pretty blunt and emotionally raw in places. Surrounded and supported by a loving and caring family, this is a story about love, about what we do to look after each other, in sickness and in health.
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  • karen stevens
    January 1, 1970
    A true life gut wrenching storyA very moving story of a young man's serious head injury following a snowboarding accident. His mother in great detail writes about what happens next
  • Maureen Stapleton
    January 1, 1970
    An absolutely brilliant book about the unflinching love of a mother and grace that emerges in difficult times. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's written beautifully. Most of all, it made me see a very difficult time in my life in a different-- and better-- light.
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  • Tor
    January 1, 1970
    Very moving. Made me appreciate how precious life is and how scarily easy things can change.
  • Sue Cawood
    January 1, 1970
    so sadand emotional
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