Sara's Reviews > The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
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Dec 03, 13

"you sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. the question of self-pity."

i picked up this book and read it knowing nothing more than those two short lines. those two lines which become the refrain of the memoir.

i think i must have been drawn to it intuitively, i needed to read this book when i did. didion's memoir records her thoughts, feelings and actions during the year following her husband's death and her daughter's near-death hospitalizations (i learned later that after the book was published her daughter did die, a fact which is incorporated into the broadway play adaptation).

there is nothing sentimental about this memoir, though it easily could be. instead, the memoir feels like a combination of reading didion's diary and also following her every action. she tells us of every thing she does to try to understand her husband's death and daughter's illness, relying primarily on science for her answers, which she does not find.

this is not a self-help book. it did not teach me how to properly grieve. instead, it showed me how one woman, in her own particular circumstances, handled her grieving, which sometimes included not really handling it at all.

i needed to read this book when i did and i would recommend it to anyone who has ever experienced a profound loss from which you may not have fully healed. this won't teach you how to heal but it may make you feel less alone and less crazy when life as you know it ends and you begin that insane plunge into the question of self-pity.
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Jeannette I totally agree with your assessment of the book.

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