I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
There have been many wonderful books on the subject of grief. Most recently, I have enjoyed AN EXACT REPLICA OF A FIGMENT OF MY IMAGINATION by Elizabeth McCracken and Joan Didion's YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING. It always amazes me how writers come up with new and powerful ways of expressing such a universal experience. This is how I felt with Roger Rosenblatt's memoir of grief, MAKING TOAST. Rosenblatt's daughter, Amy, collapsed on her treadmill at the age of 38 of an undiagnosed heart problem. She left behind her husband and three small children. Rosenblatt and his wife immediately moved into their daughters home to help care for the children. MAKING TOAST is Rosenblatt's chronicle of that first year told in little moments and memories.
I think what makes this book so effective is how Rosenblatt tells the story. Grief doesn't hit us all at once. It comes at us in little bits and pieces. And that is how Rosenblatt's story is told. The reader gets honest and moving glimpses into this family's struggles through the retelling of small intimate moments. We witness how Rosenblatt and his wife attempt to provide some sense of normalcy to the lives of their grandchildren while trying to find their own way through grief. It almost seems amazing that life could continue forward after such a loss but we see Rosenblatt fixing breakfast for the children, organizing playdates and taking the kids to school. While it seems as if Rosenblatt would spend a good deal of the book expressing his anger at such a loss, he only touches on those feelings a few times. Instead, he chooses to focus on those moments of a family pulling together in the face of a loss that changes things forever.
I believe that anyone who has lost a loved one will recognize the feelings that Rosenblatt expresses in his book. And the fact that life must go on and we have to figure out ways of dealing with that. Amy's death will never be comprehensible and it is hard to read about the daily lives of this family over that first year without your heart breaking.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. A beautiful quiet memoir that expresses how the thread of grief can run through all the little moments of one's daily life and how we must learn to perservere while never forgetting.