Meghan O'Rourke's memoir, The Long Goodbye, is a very sad and beautifully touching memory of her mother's battle with cancer and eventual de4 out of 5
Meghan O'Rourke's memoir, The Long Goodbye, is a very sad and beautifully touching memory of her mother's battle with cancer and eventual death and Mehgan's loss. This is the fourth memoir that I have read and reviewed on death and loss of a very close loved one in the last 5 years. I guess you could say that I have been looking for answers that were not presenting themselves to me otherwise regarding loss and grieving. With each one, I have confirmation of my own feelings of loss and endless grief that have been otherwise very difficult to put into words.
Early in the book, she says "When we are learning the world, we know things we cannot say how we know. When we are relearning the world in the aftermath of a loss, we feel things we had almost forgotten, old things, beneath the seat of reason." These are the kinds of things that we find impossible to share with those even very close to us. It was how I felt when I lost my son 5 years ago and I still feel that way today. I was glad to read that she felt the five stages of grief were a deceiving chart that did not necessarily flow in order and did not go through all stages for everyone and that most of us "grieve in private, at night, alone."
The only part of the book that I struggled through was after the death of Meghan's mother, Barbara, was when Meghan went through the review of the text versions of loss and grief. I liked who her mother was and would have loved to continue to read the stories of her life and her relationship with her family and friends. Finally she finds when she has therapy, and continues to search through texts on dealing with grief that she is not fitting the examples of grief patterns. It is interesting how each person's journey is so different and I am glad that I continued to read to come to her acknowledgement that "I will carry this wound forever. It's not a question of getting over it or healing. No; it's a question of learning to live with this transformation." It is a great message for everyone. As a young writer experiencing grief that her contemporaries may not experience for many years to come, she gives a voice that will resonate with many across all ages....more
I really wanted to like this book. I read The Wednesday Sisters and loved it. I was simply unable to get into these characters and I could not "hear"I really wanted to like this book. I read The Wednesday Sisters and loved it. I was simply unable to get into these characters and I could not "hear" their separate voices. I kept going back to see who was suppose to be speaking and then I would have to try to remember what their history and relationship to other was. I finally gave up after 120 pages. I may pick it up later and see if it was just timing. But I am resolved this year to stick to Nancy Pearl's reading rule and not feel like I have to finish a book whether I am enjoying it or not....more
There are so many amazing aspects to The Invisible Wall, the first of three volumes of a memoir by Harry Bernstein, I am not sure where to start. I guThere are so many amazing aspects to The Invisible Wall, the first of three volumes of a memoir by Harry Bernstein, I am not sure where to start. I guess the most amazing fact I learned was that it is never too late to write your story. Mr. Bernstein started this first book at the age of 96. Almost unbelievable given the clarity of the story. His memory of the pain, poverty, and racism that prevailed in his early life is still as vivid in his writing as it must have been then.
He retells the story of his life as well as the lives of his families from his first memories of being brought up in a small mill town in England where the segregation is block by half block. Jews on one side of the street and Christians on the other side of the street. They seem to interact only on Friday evenings when the Christians will help them by coming into their homes to light their fires after sundown for the sabbath evening meal.
With the bleak weather, bleak living conditions, bleak education options for the Jewish children, this could easily be a very bleak story but it is in fact a story filled with love, a son's love for his mother, a daughter's love of her Christian neighbor, and a mother's love for her family that enables her to rise above huge obstacles, the largest being her alcoholic, abusive husband. The backdrop of all of these smaller stories is the story of England during World War I. The Great War seems to be a uniting factor in some ways for all the families of this small town but it is not enough to overcome many of the roadblocks between the different factions residing there.
I am ready to dive into the second volume of Mr. Bernstein's life as he immigrates to the United States and finds his way. Be uplifted and read this amazing story of life and how giving up was not in the vocabulary of the Bernstein family....more
I immediately requested the ARC of Joyce Carol Oates', A Widow's Story: A Memoir when it was first offered. I had had such strong reac3 out of 5 stars
I immediately requested the ARC of Joyce Carol Oates', A Widow's Story: A Memoir when it was first offered. I had had such strong reactions to Joan Didion's memoir, A Year of Magical Thinking, which I read shortly after the death of my son. I thought maybe my reaction would be different since 5 years have passed. Not so. Although the two authors' styles are miles apart, the raw pain and emotion are the same.
Joyce Carol Oates is a well known, "instant recognition" name in writing but her private life for the past 48 years was that of Joyce Smith, wife of Raymond Smith, a well known editor. That private life collapsed, disappeared, and became a kind of nightmare when Raymond suddenly died. Like death of any kind, we never prepare for it. It doesn't matter if the loved one is older or young. We simply stay in denial about the mortality that we all have. How we deal with the loss is another matter. I am jealous of these writers that they are able to express and put to paper the madness, angry, rage, and all the other emotions that cannot be suppressed. All of us who have suffered such a loss feel and experience this wide range of emotions but we are unable to verbalize or explain them to our friends and family. Some of us are lucky enough to maybe have a close friend or a therapist that has also had such a loss that can identify with the feelings that surging through us and help us survive those waves, but many are left to flounder on their own.
You hear about the families and friendships that break apart after such a loss, and you can clearly see why when you read of the near insanity that Ms. Oates is able to reveal in her grieving testament. I really struggled through parts of this book. I wanted to shout to her to get help from her close friends. I felt her anger at the medical community prevented her from getting the help she might have benefited from if she had sought grief therapy. And ultimately, I realized that each of us must bear these feelings and sense of loss on our own terms....more
Ellen Meister has posed the question in The Other Life that many of us have asked ourselves silently but have not expressed out loud or visited even iEllen Meister has posed the question in The Other Life that many of us have asked ourselves silently but have not expressed out loud or visited even in our wildest dreams. What would have my life have been like if I had taken that other life? The Other Life we have all had, those forks in the road, where we parted ways with or lost a love, a family member, or a course in our career. What if we were able to go back and revisit ourselves in that other life as it went along a separate dimension prior the fork in the road, separate from the life we live now? Would we choose the same one or "The Other Life"? Tough question, and for each of us, the circumstances both present and past are different but no less difficult to choose between.
In the novel, Quinn Braverman is trying to choose between her present life which includes her adoring husband, her first child, and occurs during the pregnancy of her second child or her previous life with a very famous but needy, non committal boyfriend of 10 years and her mother. Her mother had committed suicide shortly after her "fork in the road" and the marriage to her present husband, and before the birth of either of her children. Her mother is who she misses terribly, and needs to connect with her for advice. Even though she is angry at her mother for leaving all of them, she can revisit the place where neither of them knew what the future held or what part the past had played to set up their future lives. Unfortunately, for Quinn, when she visits this other life she does so through the apartment that she occupied with her boyfriend of 10 years and he becomes a participant in her other life.
This may be starting to sound like another version of The Time Traveler's Wife but it isn't. Don't get me wrong. I loved that book as well but I did not even associate the two until long after I finished The Other Life.
Enjoy this book, and see if you can answer the question and make the decision Quinn had to make....more
A truly, inspiring story of giving and receiving, and the changes each can make in one’s life as well as the lives of others. It made me wan5 OUT OF 5
A truly, inspiring story of giving and receiving, and the changes each can make in one’s life as well as the lives of others. It made me want to pack my bags and head to Nepal to help Conor, Farid, and all of the others that are making a difference in the lives of so many Nepali children.
Conor’s story quickly becomes personal and gripping as he goes from a simple volunteer experience that was to only last a month, before his one year trip around the world, to a mission to save seven children that were in the hands of child traffickers. He had no idea that he would fall in love and become devoted to the cause of the children of Little Princes and all the children of Nepal that have been separated from their families and homes.
Conor returns to Nepal with funds and a desire to find seven children that he thought he had saved from the traffickers, when he learned that the rescuers had not arrived in time and the children had been lost once again in the maze of the underground system used to sell and re-sell the children over and over. He is able to set up another home, and then uses all his resources to locate the children and the families that they have been separated from in remote eastern villages of Nepal. Villages where there are no roads, no phones, no electricity, hanging off the sides of the mountains bordering China. After reading Conor’s harrowing descriptions of the trek to villages, I googled a map of Nepal and the village that they flew into and then went over the land they had to hike through just to get to the villages where they thought the children might have originated from. I can’t imagine having the fortitude to make that journey with so little experience, without the language to communicate, and relying on what seemed like blind faith. But that is what he did, and it was faith that brought him through under the most adverse conditions.
It is so important for books like this to continue to make their way into the hands of many to show all of us that it does not take a lot to make a huge difference, maybe a life and death difference, in the lives of those who are less fortunate. It is a book that will make a difference in the way I invest in the efforts of those helping others. Thank you, Conor Grennan for sharing your experience and keep up the good work of Next Generation Nepal. ...more
One of the most touching true animal stories I have ever read. Now, I must confess I am a “cat lover” and have had a cat or cats as pets, most of my lOne of the most touching true animal stories I have ever read. Now, I must confess I am a “cat lover” and have had a cat or cats as pets, most of my life. That being said, I have learned more about these wonderful creatures from this book, and the story of Homer’s life up until now than I could have learned from all of my wonderful kitties.
Here we have this precious little kitten with a severe eye infection before he ever opened his own eyes. His eyes are removed to save his life. Then the vet starts to look for an individual to adopt and care for Homer for the rest of his blind life. Gwen accepts the challenge even though she is not sure that she is up to it. One of my favorite lines in the book has to do with the fact that Homer does not only “not know” that he is blind, but none of his furry friends are going to tell him that he can’t see either. As a result, he believes he can do anything any other cat can do, using the same techniques. Instinct is powerful. His highly developed other senses are amazing to read about.
I don’t want to give away any of the delightful stories and antidotes that Gwen shares about his life because each of them are special, some very funny, hilarious, heart touching, and unbelievable. However, as Homer’s story unfolds you soon recognize that there is no exaggeration in any of these stories. There were moments when I gasped as I read the adventures and antics of this little guy. Others are laugh out loud moments. Woven in with all of these tales is Gwen’s story of coming of age and maturity, which is engaging as well. There are lessons to learn for everyone about relationships not only with animals but with humans as well. ...more
Elizabeth Edwards was honest, and forthright about prioritizing the losses one may suffer in their lifetime. I was drawn to read this book, after hearElizabeth Edwards was honest, and forthright about prioritizing the losses one may suffer in their lifetime. I was drawn to read this book, after hearing her interviewed several times. We shared the common bond of mothers who lost their son. It was an important read for me to affirm my feelings regarding my loss and to also gain some insight into the act of moving forward no matter how many times you fall back.
Elizabeth was able to convey the message that women need to honor themselves in all that they do. She was spiritual, without being "preachy". A tiger of a Mom, and always giving her kids the gift of love. I admire the way that she handled her husband's indiscretions and failures. He did not know what he had until he lost it and he was never man enough to "man up" and acknowledge his poor judgment. Ego will cost him in the long run if with no one else but his children.
I recommend this book anyone who may need a boost to their spirit and also recommend that you suggest this book to young women who are just starting out on the road to life. Perspective is everything. May Elizabeth Edwards rest in peace knowing she has given so much. ...more
What an amazing read. It is somewhat difficult to put into words how clear she is but it was an amazing read. I know I will go back and look at partsWhat an amazing read. It is somewhat difficult to put into words how clear she is but it was an amazing read. I know I will go back and look at parts of this book many times. I must have tagged half the pages with postit stickers....more
This an audiobook from Librivox. I am on disc 27. Read by Brenda Dane it is wonderful. I am going to be very sad with I am finished listening to thisThis an audiobook from Librivox. I am on disc 27. Read by Brenda Dane it is wonderful. I am going to be very sad with I am finished listening to this book. It is such a pleasure....more
Although profoundly sad, as would any book about the loss of a child, there is hope and recovery in this memoir as well. Roger Rosenblatt, writer and Although profoundly sad, as would any book about the loss of a child, there is hope and recovery in this memoir as well. Roger Rosenblatt, writer and producer, has captured a range of emotions in his story of the sudden and unexpected death of his 38 yr old daughter, Amy.
I lost my only son, and I know I felt like the friend of his that he describes in the book that was more than just a little angry at God. I still feel like him sometimes.
However, as much as this book is about loss, it is also about how life must go on for those left behind and what that looks like on a daily basis. He views how each of the family members handles their loss differently and how each tries to pick up parts of Amy for the sake of each other and her three small children. It is comforting to read through the daily routines, the kind gestures, the periods of profound sadness, and come away with the sense that time will lessen the grief even if it does not make it go away.
Grandparenting takes on a whole new dimension for Roger and his wife, Ginny, or maybe I should just say parenting because they really step up to the plate for their son in law and move in to take care of Amy’s three very young children. It becomes a family affair to envelop, love, shelter, and nurture Jessie, Sammy and Bubbies.
Thank you Roger, for sharing such a personal and deeply sad part of your life and helping all of your readers realize that those of us who are left have to get up every day and make the toast or anything else that will help us move on. It is an affirmation that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.
This is a wonderful love story told from hindsight. The beauty of that is that it gives you all the emotion but with clarity that only comes over timeThis is a wonderful love story told from hindsight. The beauty of that is that it gives you all the emotion but with clarity that only comes over time. I liked Lilly from the first moment. A rebel, a refined rebel, and also artistic in a time when it was not popular to be an artist for refined women. Also a honest look at how many in this country felt during WWII. As I get older, I feel like there is not enough discussion sometimes of how it used to be to our younger generation, and I am afraid that they will repeat some of the mistakes of the past....more