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Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  9,135 ratings  ·  1,074 reviews
Two-year-old Greta Greene was sitting with her grandmother on a park bench on the Upper West Side of Manhattan when a brick crumbled from a windowsill overhead, striking her unconscious. She is immediately rushed to the hospital. Once More We Saw Stars begins with this event, leading the reader into the unimaginable.

But although it begins with the anguish Jayson and his wi
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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 ·  9,135 ratings  ·  1,074 reviews

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We live in a world where a brick can crumble off of an eighth-story Manhattan windowsill and strike a two-year-old child in the head as she’s chattering with her grandmother on a bench below. This is what happened to Greta Greene in 2015. Her head injury was too severe to survive; although she underwent surgery to relieve the swelling in her brain, she never woke up again. The title phrase is adapted from Dante’s Inferno, and it’s appropriate because the author and his wife, Stacy, went through ...more
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"We push the apartment door open and are greeted by silence. Nothing in here knows about Greta’s death—not her red horsey with its empty smile, the toy bin beneath the living room chair, the straps on her purple high chair that she would fiddle with. We bring the news with us into each room, like smallpox. "

I think I can safely say this will be my favorite memoir of 2019.
My younger sister passed away when I was little, which obviously made a big impact on the way I view life. Being a mom myself
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vine, arc, non-fiction
There is a sense in which this is an almost unbearable story initially. The author's two year old daughter, Greta, is killed when a brick falls from a windowsill above where she is sitting. As a parent and grandparent I find this something I maybe would prefer not to think about I guess. However the author does offer his and the family's thoughts as they make they way through the trauma that follows this freak accident.

While a fairly large first section looks at the event and the immediate after
Jt O'Neill
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is remarkable. I'll start with that. I'd read the reviews and requested it from the library but once I picked it up, I wasn't sure that it was such a good idea to read it. This memoir is the story of the tragic and unexpected death of the author's two year old child. Why would I want to read that? I have plenty of sadness and grief in my life. Why read about more? I decided to be brave and start it. I figured I didn't have to finish it.

And the first half was brutal. Jayson Greene has a
Steve Peifer
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it
About half way through this book, I started to think this was one of the greatest books ever written. He combined a penetrating insight with such a lyrical gift with words that four different times I read different parts out loud to my wife.

The first half of the book, which deals with the freak accident that killed his daughter and how grief can overtake you was as powerful as anything I’ve ever read. If the book had ended there, I would have been buying the book for people who have suffered a l
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It doesn’t feel right to give a star rating to a book like this. This is a true story and it is written from the heart. It is beautifully written and it is a wonderful, heartfelt tribute to the little girl this couple lost. I was inspired by the strength of this couple and the love between them. ❤️
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favourites
The entire first half of this book made me sob. Having never lost someone close to me, I found the second half about their grief very interesting, overwhelming, and hopeful. All I am left with is wanting peace for every person in this book.
Dana M
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book broke my heart ten times over today. Strange, then, that I ultimately found it uplifting. Seems like a lot of uplifting stories can still wreck your heart every which way?
Natalie M
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
It is incredibly difficult to review a true story which entails such tragedy and heartbreak.

The short life of Greta Greene is honoured by the beautiful words of her father. It is a whole family story of the impact of a random tragedy that occurs one day in New York. The turmoil that befalls the Greene’s is dealt with sincerely, without unnecessary drama or emotional overload.

A heavy but positive read.
Ashlee Tominey
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I marvel at the author’s ability to share such an intensely personal and heartbreaking story and to capture such a breadth of emotions and thoughts in the retelling.

Sometimes the right book comes along to help process emotions you didn’t even know you had.
This book cracked me open emotionally and left me a little softer in the end. It was much needed.

Hand to those moved by the reading experience of When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi or Falling: A Daughter, a Father, and a Journey Back by
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don’t have the words to describe how heartbreaking, poignant, haunting and brilliantly written this memoir is. I read it with tears streaming down my face.
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I first heard about this book when I listened to an interview with Greene on Just the Right Book podcast (How Do We Write about Grief? - the podcast page is no longer available). Greene's two year old daughter, Greta, dies after she is hit in the head by a piece of brick that falls off the side of a building. Greta is sitting with her grandmother when this happens.

As a parent, it is inexplicably difficult to fathom the loss of a child. Even more difficult to imagine processing that grief and tu
Joanne Clarke Gunter
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A heartbreaking book. You will cry. But that is a normal reaction to the random, accidental death of an innocent 2 year-old child. The book is interesting because it details how the author and his wife coped with the overwhelming grief of losing their beloved Greta and slowly moved forward to a hopeful and even happy life after her death. It is a painful journey. Many similar books have been written, but Jayson Greene is a gifted writer and tells their terrible story eloquently.
Aug 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book had beautiful writing and the circumstances were heart breaking.
Unfortunately the author is obviously of a certain age and lives in the rarified atmosphere of the elite of New York. Grief makes us more self aware but from the writing, the author suffers from the disease of our time - self obsession. Add the New York superiority attitude and it ruined his talent for writing.
The author can write but until he removes himself from his bubble world in New York he will be stunted.
I couldn’t
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Heartbreaking tragedy. But I was appalled at the lack of empathy and care toward Susan, the authors mother in law. They didn’t see her for 6 months after the accident? Despite knowing that she didn’t answer texts for two weeks and spent that amount of time in bed? I’m glad the author and his wife were able to move forward, but this tragedy happened to Susan just as much as the author and he never seemed to acknowledge that.
Ginger Bensman
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
"Children who lose parents are orphans; bereaved spouses are widows. But what do you call parents who lose children? It seems telling to me there is no word in our language for our situation. It is unspeakable, and by extension, we are not supposed to exist." (page 103)

An exquisitely painful and ultimately grace-filled examination of the sudden and tragic loss of a
child, and the reckoning of such a loss within a life and a marriage.
Good until..

The author writes beautifully ... until he decided he had to politicize the story. It was totally unnecessary to the story line, and pulled me out of it. Unfortunately I can’t recommend this book.
Kristen Freiburger
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
It started out powerful, raw and moving. The second half fell apart imo.
My husband's family lost their oldest son to malignant melanoma when he was 29-years-old, and this tragic event served to divide the family's story sharply into before-Jim-died and after-Jim-died. Every one of the remaining four siblings changed, some more markedly than others, and as you would expect, the real changes were most apparent in Jim's parents. They rarely talked about it, but I wish they were both still alive because I would give them this eloquent memoir, Once More We Saw Stars.

Leah K
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
"I am the reminder of the most unwelcome message in human history: Children - yours, mine - they don't necessarily live".

This book is absolutely heartbreaking. Jayson and Stacy have to deal with what no parent should have to - the death of their child. This book goes through their tribulations. The hardship. The never-ending pain. The writing was so beautiful. I cried so many times. As someone who has lost a child (albeit, in a very different manner), this man was writing everything I've struggl
Stacie Buckley
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
It feels terribly awkward to give this a star rating. It’s one man’a beautiful, raw, tragic, grief-stricken, horrifying recount of not only the freak accidental death of his two year old daughter, but also of his grief and pain and anger, that of his wife, and other family members. This book captures how they tried to find meaning in this senseless and life altering event and how they dared to find hope again.

I’m not going to lie: this book had me sobbing at points. It’s not easy to read (or in
Kristi W
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don't often give 5 star ratings. This book earned every star. It is a tribute to a daughter, to a wife, to family and friends. Jayson Greene wrote a powerful memoir that captured my heart as he described his journey from grieving to living and still grieving. He acknowledges that his grief will always be, but that his living will also be. He learns how to balance the two with tears and raw honesty along the way. Somehow, this book comforted me as it acknowledged that the grief we all carry is ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 9-19
I am very sorry for your loss Mr. Greene. There is a quote in the book, ".. I watch a racist- an ignorant and malevolent man who believes in nothing- slowly rise to power.... 2016" Mr. Greene maybe you are the ignorant and malevolent man. A man that turns the economy around and has the lowest unemployment numbers and the lowest food stamp numbers in a century for the American people is not malevolent. A man that builds up the military to proetect the American people is not malevolent. A man that ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An incredibly sad memoir written by a father whose daughter's life is cut short by a freak accident. Shortly after her second birthday, Greta Greene is struck in the head by a crumbling brick. Jayson Greene chronicles the aftermath of her death narrating his stages of grief and quest for some sense of relief from the emotions threatening to overwhelm him.
Because neither Jayson nor his wife are religious people they seek out a variety of sources in an attempt to assign some meaning out to their t
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This memoir will not be for everyone, as it is a journey of Greene's grief. His 2-year old daughter died in a random accident and the book outlines her death and the year following it, where Greene and his wife grieve and begin to heal. Greene is a wonderful writer and I didn't feel like a voyeur reading his story though I definitely was moved by and connected with it. I would have liked to know a tad more about his mother-in-law's grief and healing process, as she was with the daughter when the ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
"The real pain isn't in the leg being mangled, it's in the way the bone sets."

This book was devastating. Which, of course, I should have suspected. Jayson Greene has written an honest memoir about living with a tremendous amount of grief. I was full on sobbing just a few pages in, which was unexpected and due to Greene's painfully raw snapshot of the horrible day he lost his daughter.

I wish I had closed the book with a comforting understanding of why tragedy happens, but unfortunately I did not
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, a true story written by a father who lost his two year old daughter in a freak accident, somehow pulls off the miraculous feat of being both crushingly sad and hauntingly beautiful. I have left a trail of tears throughout Manhattan in all the places I devoured this heartbreaking but lovely story. Put it on your to-read list now for when it is released in May 2019. The version I read was an advance copy.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful memoir that encompasses the overwhelming nature of grief, and how the loss of a loved one touches all corners of our life. Greene's writing on the loss of his daughter profoundly speaks on the answers that are sought out after unimaginable loss and the ways in which one moves forward. ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grief
This book is both beautiful and heartbreaking. It took me back to places I hadn't been in a long time. ( I lost a child years ago and had another afterwards like Jayson and his wife did.) ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was so moved by the author’s poignant retelling of his daughter’s accidental death and the years of excruciating grief, struggle, and self exploration that followed. He uses a lot of figurative language that takes the reader directly into his broken heart, and his wife’s broken heart. Their experiences with grief and different, of course, but so connected and interwoven.

Honestly, the depth of pain was kind of scary to me...the Mom in me wanted to crawl out of my skin at the thought of that ki
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JAYSON GREENE is a contributing writer and former senior editor at Pitchfork. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vulture, and GQ, among other publications. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

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