Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back: Carl's Book” as Want to Read:
When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back: Carl's Book
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back: Carl's Book

by
4.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,726 ratings  ·  210 reviews
In March 2015, Naja Marie Aidt’s twenty-five-year-old son, Carl, died in a tragic accident. When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back chronicles the few first years after receiving that devastating phone call. It is at once a sober account of life after losing a child and an exploration of the language of poetry, loss, and love.
Intensely moving and quietly devastati
...more
Kindle Edition, 152 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Coffee House Press - Coffee House Press (first published March 24th 2017)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,726 ratings  ·  210 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back: Carl's Book
Elyse  Walters
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My heart sank!
This book is achingly tragic...

Danish author, Naja Marie Aidt’s, son died in a car accident.
She writes about grief....and love.

“I think about you all the time and there are moments when I don’t think about you. It’s not a contradiction. I carry you with me always, including when for a moment or longer I’m not thinking about you. When I think of you with sorrow when I start thinking about what happened to you everything in my body sinks. It’s a feeling of heaviness from the cell
...more
Jim Coughenour
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, grief
When my uncle died in a small plane crash, in the first few days afterwards some well-meaning Christian handed my aunt A Grief Observed. Even (especially?) as a teenager, this struck me as stupidity. Who could read a book at such a moment? In later years I’ve heard people praise books I’m sure I’d admire: Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking or Anne Carson’s Nox. I’ve never read them. Others I did buy (but not read): Grief is the Thing with Feathers; In the Dark Room. I did start reading T ...more
Rebecca
In March 2015 Aidt got a call telling her that her second of four sons, Carl Emil, was dead. The 25-year-old experienced drug-induced psychosis after taking some mushrooms that he and his friend had grown in their flat and, naked, jumped out of his fifth-floor Copenhagen window. By the time he was transported to a hospital, the same one where he was born, a ventilator was the only thing keeping him alive and it was time to discuss donating his organs. But it took much longer for Aidt and her fam ...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Most of what I read about raw grief and lamentation is fragmentary. It's chaotic, not artistic. Often the writer doesn't have the strength to use capital letters after periods. Often the writer doesn't have the strength to complete the fragment. It can't be completed. The writing stays open and pours this inability out through everything that can't be expressed. A hole in which death vibrates. It's not possible to write artistically about raw grief. No form fits."

I knew going into this book th
...more
June
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Early in Aidt’s reflection on her adult son’s tragic death, she states that it is impossible to write artfully about raw grief, that “words sit inadequate and silly on the lines, the lines stop abruptly on their own.” And yet she had done just that. Her restless grief takes many forms – prose, poetry, essay – all conjuring what she refers to as a “kaleidoscopic” portrait of her son. Those who have suffered traumatic loss will recognize themselves in her text, and it is a gift.
Dee
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'now we shall hear about what no one wants to hear about'

The book quite literally broke me. It is fragmented, shattering and poetic. Naja lost her son Carl in the March of 2015. The book is from a mother who lost her child, how grief torments the living, how you learn to live through it and how despite loss attempting to take the life out of you, you learn to give back all the love to the living, to the dead and most importantly to yourself.

I cannot begin to comprehend the sadness the mother ha
...more
Tamsen
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, painful. I thought the author's breakdown of the 'night of terror', when they discover her son is dead to his death, with its repetition of sentences was exquisite. The repetition made me think of waves. It made me think of some lines by Carsten Jensen: "The women's song was always the same, as monotonous as the beating of waves against the beach: loss, loss. The conch offered them no enchantment. When they put their ear to it, all they heard was the echo of their mourning."

Some lines
...more
Sam
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a memoir dealing with personal loss of a loved one. The author tries to give us a full picture of her response to the loss in what could be called a notebook recording her various responses, emotional and intellectual, as she tries to process this event. I was engrossed in her emotional retelling of what happened, but various
allusions to other authors on loss and other bits that interrupt that emotional immediacy did not work for me.
Kirstine
Stunning and heartbreaking beyond belief.
Mandy
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing


This book will gut you.

I didn't actually cry physical tears while reading this book but my soul did, if that makes sense?

If you have ever experienced a loss of a someone who meant oh-so-much to you, Aidt does a profound job expressing grief in an astonishingly beautiful way. Her words are intense, filled with raw emotion that will hug you because "Finally, someone gets it!" and tear you apart because "Someone gets it."
...more
Outi
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018, grief
A mother's diary of grief over her son who died at the of 25 in 2015. It's fragmented and uses for example repetition, poems and typography to mimic the experience of sudden loss.

I read it in two parts: it was hard to read but also demanded full attention from the reader. When you sort of surrender to the text, it flows like grief does, there's also a lot of anger and a lot of explanations and attempts to explain and understand. Such a powerful, sad book.
Jonathan
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely heartbreaking and astounding. A short series of journal entries, poems, thoughts, and feelings that absolutely gut you
Cassie (book__gal)
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back - the title alone tells you you’re about to read something that will command your respect and your heart. Fortunately, the book’s contents live up to its sturdy title. March 2015, Naja Marie Aidt lost her son Carl to a devastating accident. The moments of that fateful phone call and the following years after are chronicled here, as Aidt attempts to move through her grief, and find some semblance of what reality can look like after the most terribl ...more
Birgitte
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My friend, a Danish literature teacher, recommended this book. I hesitated. It’s about losing a child, the worst that can happen to a human being, according to a doctor quoted in the novel. The text is genuine and deeply touching. What especially works well are the many quotations from great literature that also deals with grief and mourning. Good texts can do that, touch and maybe heal.
Amanda Oddo
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
really pulls at the heart strings. Anyone that has lost a loved one tragically or not can relate to her feelings in this book. I did not know this was her story mixed with poetry at first, but the poetry she puts in it (both her own, her sons, and famous poets) is really beautiful and completes the story
Karen
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Simply, this is a book about a mother's grief. It focuses on the otherworldliness of grief.
Natalie Park
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Heart wrenching and beautiful. This is a touching story told through prose and poetry of life, death, and grief.
Abby
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fragmentary, moving grief memoir from a mother who lost her son in a tragic accident. Anne Carson-esque (and Aidt quotes Carson several times).
KDV
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Absolutely gutting.
Connie Karlsen
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It pictures grief in a new dimension. I felt her pain through every page. SUCH A fucking well written book!
Tara
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: death, mourning
Heartbreaking and beautiful.
Tori
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
highly recommend. there are no words to describe personal grief but Naja covey's what grief feels like in her words, in the words of others and in the manner in which this story is written.
Kim
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary, nonfiction
this book was gorgeous but i am DISTRAUGHT
M
Don't do mushrooms. And if your son has a pot habit -- start asking questions.
Nick Carr-Sorensen
First reading: A poet’s grief is tender like being hit in the head by a metal bat.

Second reading: The second reading is, like its subject matter, something that matures and better expresses itself in time. This is as much a memoir about grief as it is an essay on writing about grief.
Sammie
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: edelweiss-2019
You can read my full review on my blog, The Writerly Way, here.

Many thanks to Edelweiss and Coffee House Press for an eARC in exchange for an honest, unbiased opinion.


I try to make an effort to read more poetry, and this year’s theme for me seems to be grief, as I struggle with my own. What particularly spoke to me about Mrs. Aidt’s work is that this book was written as a way for her to come to terms with her own grief and as she learned to cope, and that in itself was appealing. Because gri
...more
Ruby
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"There was something about you that I don't have words for. Something transparent, that made you suffer alone, in silence."

"Strength in sorrow they say, but that's a lie. Petrified, pure survival instinct, beside oneself, composed in a form on insanity."

"Grief is a fucking prison"

"I'm afraid I'll forget him. Forget the sensation of his body, his voice, his laughter. I'm afraid that he will disappear from me more and more each day. That he will disappear in step with my healing. It's unbearable.
...more
Crysty
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"I don't know if at any other point I've been interested in seeing a healer. I've never met one or sought one out since that time in the maternity ward with you. I sought one out again because I wanted someone to heal my sorrow. I wasn't looking for someone who sees sorrow as a project to complete. I did't want to take it on as a project. I didn't want to partake in treating sorrow as a project. The idea of sorrow as a project to complete disgusts me. The idea of sorrow as a project to complete ...more
B.r. Stagg
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Most of what I read about raw grief and lamentation is fragmentary. It’s chaotic, not artistic. Often the writer doesn’t have the strength to use capital letters after periods. Often the writer doesn’t have the strength to complete the fragment. It can’t be completed. The writing stays open and pours this inability out through everything that can’t be expressed. A hole in which death vibrates. It’s not possible to write artistically about raw grief. No form fits. To write about actual nothingne ...more
xiao zhu
How can my mind have any rest?
My beloved Enkidu has turned to clay.

The oldest surviving piece of literature in human history, Gilgamesh, is about grief. It tells the story of a man who is so terrified at seeing the man he loves die that he travels across the waters of death in search of immortality. You cannot have literature without grief. And this book was no exception.

When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back is the story of Carl, a sensible, film-loving, vegetarian 25-year-old fro
...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Forsvindingsnumre
  • Tour de chambre
  • Transfervindue
  • Efter solen
  • Nye rejsende
  • Den, der lever stille
  • Meter i sekundet
  • Penge på lommen
  • Tyverier
  • Sommerfugledalen - et requiem
  • Hvis der skulle komme et menneske forbi
  • Alt hvad du ejer
  • Der bor en ung pige i mig, som ikke vil dø
  • De ansatte
  • Mit arbejde
  • Elsken
  • Der bor Hollywoodstjerner på vejen
  • Yahya Hassan 2
See similar books…
97 followers
Naja Marie Aidt is a Danish poet and writer. She was born in Greenland, and spent some of her childhood there. She published her first book of poetry in 1991, and in 2008 she was awarded the Nordic Council's Literature Prize.

Related Articles

If you haven't heard of record-smashing singer and songwriter Mariah Carey, is there any hope for you? Who else has sold more than 200 million...
46 likes · 20 comments
“Men jeg ser dig alligevel klart. Selvom jeg ikke nødvendigvis ser dig sandt. Måske ser jeg dele af dig, ingen andre kan se. Måske er sandheden om et menneske kalejdoskopisk. Alle blikkene udgør tilsammen et prisme, som er dig.” 1 likes
More quotes…