Saturday, March 3, 2012

Review: The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen

The Grief of Others
Author: Leah Hager Cohen
Published: September 15, 2011
Genre: contemporary fiction
Hardcover: 384 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): The Ryries have suffered a loss: the death of a baby just fifty-seven hours after his birth. Without words to express their grief, the parents, John and Ricky, try to return to their previous lives. Struggling to regain a semblance of normalcy for themselves and for their two older children, they find themselves pretending not only that little has changed, but that their marriage, their family, have always been intact. Yet in the aftermath of the baby's death, long-suppressed uncertainties about their relationship come roiling to the surface. A dreadful secret emerges with reverberations that reach far into their past and threaten their future. The couple's children, ten-year-old Biscuit and thirteen-year-old Paul, responding to the unnamed tensions around them, begin to act out in exquisitely- perhaps courageously-idiosyncratic ways. But as the four family members scatter into private, isolating grief, an unexpected visitor arrives, and they all find themselves growing more alert to the sadness and burdens of others-to the grief that is part of every human life but that also carries within it the power to draw us together.

My Thoughts: I had heard mixed reviews from other bloggers, so when I had a chance to read this book, I figured why not. Some people really liked it, others thought it was missing something. While I don't fall into either category, it was something that I found to be an enjoyable read but a bit decadent at times. The story is told in chunks of time, alternating between the present, last year (when the family lost their newborn baby), and a few years before that. Each character gets a chance to voice their story and how they are handling their lives. I found that some of the characters were far too developed for their age (Biscuit in particular), others were right on, and others left me confused as to what their purpose was in the story.

As the title implies, the main theme in this book is grief. It's not only about how this one family deals with the death of their baby, but a young man who lost his father, and a young girl who discovers she is pregnant but not sure what she wants to do. It's definitely a sad story, so don't hope for a happy ending, but it's moving and being able to see how different family members cope with loss is something that I really enjoyed. I didn't like the ending, and I think that I might have liked the book more if the ending weren't so hypothetical. A good piece of contemporary fiction and one that is sure to make you think about how people handle grief in their own way.

1 comment:

  1. I remember reading mixed reviews also, think I have this on my Wishlist and forgot about it, hmmm may not get read. Thanks for your thoughts.