A poignant and painful memoir of a son's suicide—the dark side of Mother's Day. At one point in this brief volume, Vanderbilt (The Memory Book of Starr Faithfull, 1994) says of herself, ``There's a place deep inside me that is hard as a diamond.'' It would have to be to survive not only the traumas of Vanderbilt's childhood (described in 1985's Once Upon a Time), but the sudden death of her husband Wyatt Cooper when their two sons were still young, and the death of her son Carter at age 24. The story begins as a celebration of the family that Gloria and Wyatt Cooper built together. The narrative is interspersed with diary entries recalling an idyllic family summer at the beach, with eulogies from Carter's brother and friends, and a prescient poem by Carter. Even after their father's death, the boys escape the spoiled rich kid syndrome. Carter finishes college, gets a job, falls in love, all the while impressing his peers as ``pure'' and ``good.'' On the day he dies, Carter does move back to his mother's house, exhibiting somewhat curious but not worrisome behavior. Waking from a long afternoon nap, Carter is at first disoriented and then, in an aberrant act, he races to the terrace of the apartment, climbs on its rampart and sits there before dropping to his death on the street below. His mother tries desperately to reach him, to talk him back down off the ledge, to recall him to sanity, to no avail. Vanderbilt relives that day and those moments again and again, in therapy, with her friends, and in the sorrowful letters she writes to Carter. Slowly she begins to heal—that is her message—but she will never be the same. A sometimes clumsy structure only underlines the remarkable intensity of feeling that Vanderbilt conveys. The reader will bear the weight of her sorrow, even after the book is closed.
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