Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Grief of Others; Leah Hager Cohen


Title: The Grief of Others
Author: Leah Hager Cohen
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Riverhead
Edition: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Date Completed: 10/25/2011 
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

The Grief of Others is a heartbreaking story about the death of a newborn, and how such a loss affects the entire family.  Ricky and John Ryrie's newborn son dies just days after birth, as a result of a serious birth defect. While this situation in itself would be painful enough to deal with, for the Ryries the situation is made worse by the fact, Ricky knew her risk was high for having an infant that might not survive, yet she chose to keep the info to herself, just in case the tests, indicating the possibility of a rare brain deformity, were wrong. She ignores the radiologist's statement that most couples in this situation would opt for an abortion -- for Ricky this was never an option.

When John finds out about the secret Ricky had been keeping from him, their marriage becomes more unstable. To complicate family life even more, while both husband and wife are trying to deal with their own emotional pain and grief, their two other children are dealing with painful situations of their own.  Their thirteen year-old son Paul, is being picked on by school bullies and daughter, Elizabeth "Biscuit", is a mess as well. The 6th grader, cannot understand why her baby brother baby never came home from the hospital. She even attempts a strange funeral ritual for the baby whose life ended before it began.  Sadly, neither child feels like they can count on their parents at this time for answers or comfort, since they are dealing with their own grief.  In addition. there are also two other fairly significant characters who come into the story, both in some ways complicate the situation the Ryries are dealing with, but ultimately they play an important part of the healing process.

The Grief of Others is not a happy novel. I found it quite sad, yet the story was an important one. Each of the characters seemed believable and sympathetic for different reasons.  The author writes well, but at times I felt the writing was a bit too descriptive given the painful subject matter. But, for all the sadness in this book, the ending left me hopeful. In my opinion, when an author can make that happen without making the ending seem contrived, it's a book worth reading. This book is recommended, as long as you are not feeling depressed when you begin it, and the cover is one of the prettiest ones I've seen in a long time.

17 comments:

  1. Wow, this sounds incredibly sad! Kudos to you for sticking it out!

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  2. Sometimes sad books are really good when you are in the right mood. This sounds like a book I would enjoy actually.

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  3. Sounds like an amazing book, but so emotional!

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  4. Thanks for reviewing this book, I have seen the book jacket around but reading your description... I'm going to find a copy of this book.

    Great review - I can't wait to read it.

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  5. I am okay with a sad read once in awhile. This sounds like an intense read. The cover is very pretty. I think this is a book I might like so I will keep an eye out for it.

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  6. This sounds like an important read, but not necessarily a fun or enjoyable one. What a terrible secret for Ricky to keep.

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  7. Wow, just the baby's death would be enough to tear a family apart. Finding out someone was keeping a secret from you would make it that much worse.

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  8. I like it when book are sad sometimes, but I have to be in just the right mood for that to work for me. I am glad that you liked this one. I had been thinking of reading it, but I am not yet sure. Great review!

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  9. This one will be very difficult to read but I definitely want to read it soon!

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  10. I know I will read this at some point. I cannot even imagine how difficult it would be to lose a child. Tough subject but sometimes it's good for a story to make you a little bit uncomfortable or sad.

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  11. So sad ... and heartrending. Thank you for the review.

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  12. Great review, Diane. This was such a sad book and my heart went out to the children. I think the parents needed a parenting course or a wake up call which John got from Biscuit, I think.

    I liked the author's writing but you make an interesting pointy about it being too descriptive sometimes.

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  13. I'm glad you liked this one better than I did. I had a hard time with Ricky's character.

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  14. Grief affecting everyone in different ways sometimes tend to divide a family unit as each one is grieving differently, maybe not wanting to impose/share with others. Sounds a story of the present times.

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  15. this one is on my list to read...may move up a few notches after reading your great review!

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  16. Not sure when I would be in the right mood to read a book like this, but it does sound like something I should read.

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  17. With a baby at home I don't know if I could read this one right now and enjoy it.

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