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Competitive Grieving

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4.13  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  46 reviews
An Entertainment Weekly Pick of Summer's Best New Books
Wren's closest friend, her anchor since childhood, is dead. Stewart Beasley. Gone. She can't quite believe it and she definitely can't bring herself to google what causes an aneurysm. Instead of weeping or facing reality, Wren has been dreaming up the perfect funeral plans, memorial buffets, and processional songs for
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Published by Blackstone Publishing
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  • Competitive Grieving by Nora Zelevansky
    Competitive Grieving: A Novel
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    Release date: May 11, 2021
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    Average rating 4.13  · 
    Rating details
     ·  234 ratings  ·  46 reviews


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    Book
    Apr 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC. Listen to full episodes at: https://bookclubbed.buzzsprout.com/

    I am a layperson in the realm of romance. Or, to rephrase that, a layperson in the realm of romance fiction (best to not indict my personal life in a book review). The first, true “romance genre” book I read was 50 Shades, which is a bit like preparing for a bakery tasting by getting smashed in the face with a pie.

    I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in this book—as far as tropes, pacing, or sent
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    Larry H
    Jun 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    This book was seriously amazing.

    Wren is absolutely shocked when she learns that her best friend Stewart has died. They’d essentially known each other since birth (their mothers met during pregnancy) and even though their lives took very different paths (he became a TV star, she worked in grant writing), they were each other’s anchors.

    Shaken to her core but unable to fully grieve, she is asked by Stewart’s mother to go through his apartment along with his friend and lawyer, George. She is quickly
    ...more
    Diane Payne
    When I first started reading the novel, I didn't get too far because it felt too slapsticky, too Hollywood. Weeks later, I decided to give it another try. Even though the book implies that it's about grieving and loss, in many ways it isn't, which is odd after reading the author's message at the end of the novel and having endured a few recent deaths. Maybe this book was more of a cathartic project for the author, a way to resolve and reflect on those deaths in a way that would move her forward. ...more
    Katie
    Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Grieving is not a pretty experience but, rather, painful, messy, embarrassing, occasionally (horrifyingly) funny, surreal, surprising, cathartic, enlightening. To me, Competitive Grieving deftly captures all this. I was struck by the way Zelevansky wrote the complexity of Wren’s reactions to the untimely death of her friend. Wren felt like a refreshingly real person, imperfect, witty, struggling. I loved the way this truly funny book did not shy away from the death or from the way losing someone ...more
    Emily Barth
    Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    This book has everything I love: romance, humor, depth, thoughtful reflections on life and friendship, and likable-if-flawed (aren't we all?!) characters. Sigh. I loved it so much I just wanted to read it all over again the moment I finished. (So I did!)

    I don't want to give any spoilers, but I thought the arc of the story was so satisfying, and I loved that it took us through the whole process of grief, and all the many ways grief can manifest. It can make us all less flattering versions of ours
    ...more
    Dianne
    I really have no clue what to say about this book. It was a difficult book for me to get through, and unfortunately, I guessed the twist early on.

    I was not too fond of all of the characters ( even the MC Wren), even at the end when things became clearer. I truly found no humor in this novel -maybe it's my age or the fact that I've lived through things like this and never saw this kind of greed and one-upmanship.

    This is a book I would recommend if you have a high tolerance to avarice ( even if i
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    Ann Marie
    May 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
    What a great book! It does the perfect job of conveying the complicated emotions associated with grief and presents it as a dark comedy.

    Wren's best friend since childhood, Stewart has died and she is in mourning. He was a TV star on a successful show, so many others around the country are devastated too, whether they were casual friends or complete strangers. Stewart's mother, who she's never been close with, has tasked Wren with going through his belongings. Wren understandably feels possessive
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    Hanna
    Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I loved this book! You wouldn’t think that a book about the death of a childhood friend could be funny and uplifting, but Competitive Grieving is just that. Zelevansky manages to tap into the absurdity of a surreal situation—faux friends jockeying for attention and mementos, a bereaved ice queen mother setting the main character up with an impossible task— and does it all with charm and just the right amount of dark humor and emotional heft. She even weaves in a romantic plot line that had me tu ...more
    Misty
    Jun 11, 2021 added it
    Shelves: dnf, 2021
    I really wanted to love this—the writing is just beautiful. Unfortunately, 300 pages of grieving couched in sophomoric humor just didn’t appeal. Next?
    Barb
    May 12, 2021 added it
    Listened for an hour and a half. Not engaging, not funny; lacked depth, insight and emotion. A lot of words... But no joy for me. Moving on.
    Janie Hickok Siess
    May 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Author Nora Zelevansky says her novels are "delayed coming-of-age stories, inspired by the universal struggle to let go of the past and reimagine oneself again and again, . . .[and] follow characters who resist change as they navigate periods of grudging transition: college graduation, the approach to 30, grief and acceptance." She aptly describes Competitive Grieving as funny, sad, hopeful, true, and universal. The story was inspired by the deaths in 2017 of her uncle and one of her oldest frie ...more
    Sandy Reilly
    Wren and Stewart have been best friends since before birth, destined to always be in each other's lives. It wasn't always easy -- they were two completely different people with widely different views of the world -- but through everything they've managed to stay close friends even if they aren't as close as they used to be. So it comes as quite of a shock to Wren when she finds out Stewart was found dead in his apartment due to a brain aneurysm. While trying to process her own grief and the loss ...more
    Nikki Gheen
    May 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    Competitive Grieving tells the story of MC Wren grappling with the death of her childhood best friend, Stewart. She is asked to assist with the memorial plans along with her late friend’s cute lawyer and of course all of Stewart’s questionable friends…

    This story was so relatable that I felt as though I had lost Stewart as well. The story unfolds over the course of a week, focusing on Wren, her complicated relationship with Stewart and his other friends who all seem to believe was the “closest” t
    ...more
    Molly
    May 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. I felt that this book tackles so many difficult emotions with a freshness of how many of us live now - from dynamics within friend groups, to finding romance, to being at career crossroads. This novel is about the death of friend, but also a coming of age story, especially relatable for those of us that experience coming of age until our late 20s and 30s. An ambitious novel that made me laugh, cry, and think hard about the relationships I really care abou ...more
    Rachelle
    May 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    4.5 stars rounded up.

    I loved Competitive Grieving, an unexpectedly warm, funny, and heartfelt book.

    I never would have thought I'd laugh out loud while reading a book that takes place during and immediately after Wren's best friend's funeral. But it happened. There were times when Wren grieved and remembered and tried to find the best way to move forward while honoring her friend's memory. Times when I could feel the tears coming. And there were quirky side characters, a sweet romance, and witty
    ...more
    Nicola A
    Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    I wish there was a Nora Zelevansky romantic banter channel that I could turn on whenever I needed it. Like a Phoenix from the ashes, in the midst of this astute and moving novel about loss is a wonderful and life-affirming love story. I loved it!
    Stacy40pages
    May 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    Competitive Grieving by Nora Zelevansky. Thanks to the author and @blackstonepublishing for the gifted copy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    When Wren’s best friend dies unexpectedly, she is tasked with sorting his belongings. Stewart was a celebrity, so she now has to contend with the rest of the world who wants his memorabilia too. As she meets his Hollywood acquaintances, she wonders if she knew all of who Stewart was.

    Wow, this book devastated me, but in a great way. Spoiler for my
    Monthly recap: is going to be my
    ...more
    Susan
    May 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
    See my review at Reading World ...more
    Rudie
    May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    Loved it! Great, great story with universal themes & it is consistently hilarious.
    Cathy A.
    May 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I loved this read. Breezy yet deep. Even better, the characters resonated greatly.
    summer
    May 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: 2021, cried-hard
    I was sent this for review from BookSparks so thank you to them for sending this over!

    This book is mostly about grief (as I'm sure you can imagine from the title), and I really enjoyed the theme of it all. The way it tackles different ways to grieve, and feeling like you aren't feeling enough, or too much, or just grieving wrong in general was so important. There obviously is no wrong way to grieve, but it may always feel that way.

    I really enjoyed Zelevansky's writing style. It was so funny and
    ...more
    Jess Jarrold
    May 25, 2021 rated it liked it
    3 Words: Cathartic, Moving, Superficial
    -
    Wren’s closest friend Stewart Beasley is dead. As a rising TV star, plenty of people seem upset that Stewart is gone but it doesn’t seem genuine to Wren, who just misses her anchor since childhood. When Stewart’s icy mother assigns her the task of clearing out his flat, Wren finds herself surrounded by people each competing to own a piece of Stewart’s life and she begins to wonder if you can ever actually know anyone for certain.
    -
    The novel is from the per
    ...more
    Jenn
    I really, really enjoyed this book. I found it equally happy and sad and hopeful and a really cathartic read about grief and loss after a month filled with a lot of grief and loss for me. I think this book will especially speak to those who've lost someone suddenly, someone who was so full of life and love and potential, only to be just...gone in an instant.

    Wren's character bothered me a little bit at the beginning, but I warmed up to her as the book wore on and loved the story between her and
    ...more
    Kera (featherboundbooks)
    This was a great and utterly capturing story about grief and how it affects feelings we have for someone and how we see our memories with that person. But in this case, Wren has to come to terms with some of the bitterness when a loved one is grieved by others in different ways. How that in itself affects the way she sees and remembers Stewart.

    Her childhood friend became an actor and was really loved by so many. But, after his death and upon sorting through his belongings, she finds herself havi
    ...more
    Cali Mik
    May 24, 2021 rated it liked it
    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
    Carrie Cappiello
    May 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I was nervous going into this book, thinking it would be a gut wrenching look at grief. However, it is equal parts comedy, rom-com and a touching examination of how we grieve a lost loved one. Grieving can be quite competitive: who knew the deceased better, who loved them more, who had the closest relationship. There are always hurt feelings, bruised egos and it rarely brings out the best in people, especially when items of value are left behind.

    I loved how the chapters alternated between the p
    ...more
    Mary Gilg
    Jun 04, 2021 rated it liked it
    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
    Kimmy
    Mar 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
    As someone who has been known to have a somewhat morbid sense of humor when it comes to death, a book labeled as humor and titled “Competitive Grieving” really called out to me.

    The story was the first initial days after a semi-famous actor named Stewart died and told from the perspective of his lifelong best friend who had a hard time coming to terms with other people’s grief who she felt might be trying too hard but then also wondering if she knew him at all.

    In general, I love the complexity
    ...more
    Diana
    May 29, 2021 rated it liked it
    I thought this was just ok. I considered not finishing but I am glad I pressed through. I definitely knew where the story was headed, but I found the reveals of the underpinnings of the relationships a good reminder. We never know what’s really going on with many people, and we can stand in our own way of deeply knowing others and even ourselves. Being in relationship with other humans hurts sometimes—we can turn away from that or we can let it wash over us, deal with it, and (hopefully) draw us ...more
    Sandy
    Mar 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
    I found this book compulsively readable. As you might guess from the title, this is a book about grief - about the strange ways it can wrap around a person and how it can twist and sharpen at unexpected times. How it really never goes away - it just changes. Competitive Grieving is also about the ways that we hide parts of ourselves away and how we judge those around us without knowing them fully - for better and for worse.
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    NORA ZELEVANSKY is the author of Will You Won't You Want Me?, Semi-Charmed Life and Competitive Grieving (upcoming in May 2021). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, ELLE, Town & Country, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair, among others. She lives with her husband, two kids and enormous cat, Waldo, in Brooklyn, New York.

    *BOOK CLUBS should reach out via IG or
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