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Joy Enough: A Memoir

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  725 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Lipsticks applied, novels read, imperfect cakes baked—such memories are recalled with “crystalline perfection” (J.C. Hallmann, Brooklyn Rail) in Sarah McColl’s breathtaking testimonial to the joy and pain of loving well. When her mother, Allison, was diagnosed with cancer, McColl dropped everything—including her on-the-rocks marriage—to return to the family farmhouse and f ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Liveright (first published January 15th 2019)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  725 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like a cool washcloth on a hot forehead. This was the perfect balm for my own grieving soul.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I'm all in for grief memoirs, still, and Joy Enough by Sarah McColl is an honest capture of layered grief - loss of marriage, loss of mother. It's not only bad parts and her past is largely positive, so it isn't all sad, very true to reality.

I would give this to a friend struggling with a parent's illness or terminal diagnosis. It's hopeful in its straightforward look at everyday death (that never feels "normal" when you go through it.)
Kris V
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
“I loved my mother and she died. Is that a story?”

This book caught me off guard and pulled me in with that first line.
What follows is the story of a mother’s impact on her family, and especially on her daughter, Sarah.
The language is rife with beautiful metaphors, and the structure is delicately woven around memories of her mother.

This is a tender artful expression of pain and longing, beautifully written.

Finishing it, I’m reminded of the great value of memories, and the stories they carry.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 31, memoir, 1-top-reads
I watched McColl's edition of "stacked" on belletrist's Instagram and she talked about all of her own books with such affection; I decided I must read the work of a woman who takes that much pleasure in words. Joy Enough is strangely Dionysian. It luxuriates in language. (I was not surprised to learn that the author once earned her living making people's mouths water as a food writer.) McColl imbues every meal eaten, every landscape viewed, and every question answered, with meaning. She gives vo ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I almost gave up on this book , but so glad I didn't. Very touching, and it just spoke to me. Lovely. So worth it.

Thanks you Goodreads for letting me win this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
goddamn, i love a good memoir
Jessie Adamczyk
Memoirs are tricky beasts. Save the odd, truly sensational story, I believe these monsters only can be conquered by those who are either incredibly talented or obscenely narcissistic. Often times, the writer must be both. McColl, however, does not appear to be either.

Her writing style shows promise. The work includes flashes where she seems earnest and desperate to claim her craft. These lines are layered between tired cliche's, however, and worn out platitudes about white, childless women who
Jaclyn Hillis
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joy Enough is a beautifully written memoir about love, and the life and loss of her mother.

I received an advanced copy from NY BookCon.
Jessie (thatchickwithabook)
Joy Enough is a beautiful expression of a mother’s life through a daughter’s eyes, and heart stopping loss. Sarah writes about her mother’s illness and untimely passing with eloquence and pain. It’s a view of grief that makes you feel like you’re living it firsthand; a true testament to her writing. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.
Katie Devine
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I loved my mother, and she died. Is that a story?"

I was captivated from the first sentence of this lyrical, fragmented memoir, and my attention was held through tears and laughter and heartbreak and joy until even after the final sentence. This is a book that begs to be re-read and savored again, and I will be heeding that call.
JoAnna S
I enjoyed this, it made me cry a lil
Caiti S
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sarah used to write one of my favorite blogs, Pink of Perfection. This is her debut memoir, and it was incredible. She explored love and loss in relationships--largely with her mother but also her marriage and within herself. Sarah's writing is gorgeous and vibrant. A small but touching and powerful memoir. ...more
Lisa Cobb Sabatini
I won an Advance Reading Copy of Joy Enough: A Memoir by Sarah McColl from Goodreads.

I'm reading Joy Enough: A Memoir by Sarah McColl, readers experience defining moments in the author's life that are at once unique to the writer and familiar to the reader. Recognizing the growing pains endured by the author and sharing the emotions, readers can't help but to empathize with McColl and to revisit the precious, life changing, identity forming moments of their own lives.
Sweet and sad, insightful an
Claire Fuller
Sarah McColl's mother dies, she loved her, she wonders if it is a strong enough story. It certainly is. McColl writes beautifully of love and death in snippets of memory, interspersed with the story of her own failing marriage (I didn't find these elements as strong as those about her relationship with her mother).
I'll definitely be looking out for what McColl writes next.
A book on mother loss that is simple and stark while also beautiful. Sarah’s capturing of her disintegrating marriage on the edges of her mother’s decline hit close to home in a very personal and gut-wrenching way. While our stories are a bit different, her observations and candidness confirmed that we are not alone in what we experience through the various levels of grief and loss.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, rounding up. Aching, lovely, understated. I want to call it a pleasure to read, even if that feels not quite right to say about a memoir of grief. I have missed McColl's writing for many years now, and am so glad to have it with me again. ...more
Martha Anne Toll
Here is my review of this book on NPR. ...more
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grief, memoir
This was a story that mirrored both my grief for my mother and my grief for my marriage more than anything I’ve read. What a poetic, lyrical and luscious book. And the experience of recognizing myself and reading my previously unarticulated thoughts and feelings- true gifts. ❤️🙏🏼
Brittany | Brittany_the_Bookworm
3.5 stars
Jul 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: us, biography-memoir
A book by my favourite (former) blogger, Sarah McColl of Pink of Perfection, which I was afraid to read for far too long. It turns out that while my life is different, and my choices would probably be very different, Sarah still managed to take me along with her beautifully written story.
Delia Rainey
i picked this book up when i renewing my library card. i saw a paul lisicky quote on the back, saw the slim bind, and that it was a grief memoir in fragments that weave through time. hell ya. while reading, i could tell this is sarah’s first book, and a book written during a nonfiction mfa program (with jo ann beard first in the thank yous!) ~ it’s jam-packed and flourishy with big life moments and almost-cliche life realizations. mccoll’s descriptions and memories of her mother create a lovingl ...more
Leah Dieterich
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Somehow McColl makes her mother's illness and death and falling out of love with her husband feel both hopeful, joyful, and funny. I laughed. I cried. I came back to life as a writer in reading this book. ...more
Tania Pabon
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joy Enough is a gentle memoir, crafting an experience of daughter-hood and womanhood that is both hopeful and heartbreaking. McColl holds our hand as she navigates, not only stages of grief, but variations of grief. It is not that we wouldn't know the pain of losing someone, it is that we are put in a place of losing this parent, this husband. The memoir is expertly crafted to let us feel grief as we each do, while still feeling connected to the author, her loss and her own process. Beautifully ...more
Melissa Inman
Broken thoughts that were confusing and the telling of past and present was constantly changing and made me loopy. It was a sad and truthful story and I give the author credit for her bravery and also some things she wrote beautifully.
Michele Siqueiros
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is something about grief memoirs that can be so therapeutic for those who have experienced loss. Each year I feel a little further away from the undertow on my grief, but it can still call me back whenever it decides to. There is no control. This was a book I was scared to read at first, but over time I just kept coming back to it. I was scared to read it because my beautiful mom is still here and just the thought of losing her on top my other grief makes me go a bit wild. But she lost her ...more
Pamela  Huffman
Dec 31, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a book about loss — loss of a mother and loss of a marriage. I felt a lot of compassion and could relate with the loss of the mother but can’t say the same about the loss of the marriage. I guess it’s because I have lost my mom but am still married. I also felt like I couldn’t really understand why she left her husband. I am more of a thick or thin kind of person and couldn’t relate to walking away from my spouse. I might have liked this book better if she had focused on her relationshi ...more
Mar 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, death
This is a beautifully-written portrait of intertwined lives and the cataclysm that's hard to accept when one leaves too soon. The parts about the author's childhood and her mother's life are honest and heartfelt, and though I had a hard time relating to the crumbling-marriage-related parts (being one of those people who gets lost interest in, and never does the losing of the interest 😅), I still appreciated the starkness with which they were shared. At times the narrative style where distant pas ...more
Sharee Lopez
*3.5 stars! Quite frankly, this book brought back feelings I have locked away for quite some time. Not sure if it was because I have lost someone with a similar condition, but I felt some old wounds tear open in the need for some new attention now as an adult. The story takes you through the author’s life as she experiences two great losses: marriage and losing her mother to cancer. There was a little confusion due to back and forth with time shifts, but I really liked how the book was separated ...more
Kate Cronin
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
So much of this memoir resonated with me as I too cared for my dying mother and I too remember thinking, if I can get her to eat one more plate of my homemade fettucini alfredo so she won't lose any more weight everything will be ok. I also remember sobbing after I came home from a weekend of emptying her house and warmed up some cream of cauliflower soup because I was starving and then realizing, after it was gone, that it was the last thing I would ever eat that she made. I would not recommend ...more
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