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COMFORT by Ann Hood


A Journey Through Grief

by Ann Hood

Pub Date: May 12th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-393-06456-8
Publisher: Norton

Novelist Hood’s brief, heartbreaking memoir chronicles the death of her five-year-old daughter and its soul-searing aftermath.

In 2002, Grace contracted a virulent form of strep throat. A broken arm in her ballet class, a fever that seemed to come out of nowhere, a call to the pediatrician and, writes Hood, “a day and a half after I carried her into the ER, Grace died.” The book opens with the author’s description of the interminable hours in the hospital, watching as Grace cycled from near-comatose to “better” to dead. Though she’s mined this material before in her fiction (The Knitting Circle, 2007, etc.), Hood’s terror and agony are once again fresh. Watching her daughter go into cardiac arrest, she writes, “I screamed, ‘Gracie! Gracie! Gracie!’ so loud and so often that my throat remained dry for days afterwards.” The rest of the book delineates the process of grieving undergone by Hood, her husband and their eight-year-old son Sam. Unable to write for a time, Hood took up knitting and thought back on her life before marriage and motherhood. She had been a young woman who effortlessly left places and people behind; then she fell in love with Manhattan, and “the one place I thought for certain I would never leave was New York City.” Her husband persuaded her to move to Rhode Island, but for years she felt it didn’t fit. The story of how she “slowly, slowly” began to find her place in this new world is as compelling as the ghastly account of Grace’s tragic end. Eventually, time started to do its healing work: Hood was again able to put words on paper, and in 2005 the family adopted a baby girl from China—born on the date Grace died.

A loving tribute by turns harrowing and beautiful.