PHOENIX RISING by Cynthia D. Grant
Kirkus Star

PHOENIX RISING

Or How to Survive Your Life
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Here, the author of Kumquat May, I'll Always Love You (1986) explores a more serious theme: dealing with grief after a sister's death. Helen succumbs to cancer just before her high-school graduation, and months later her year-younger sister Jessie remembers her as near-perfect--caring, competent, a gifted author-to-be. The surviving family, however, is all too human. Older brother Lucas, a dedicated musician, is constantly at war with his unsympathetic father; grieving herself, Mom is at a loss when it comes to dealing with Jessie's grief, which is expressed at first in nightmares about loss and then in anorexia and agoraphobia. Jessie is angered at Helen's boyfriend, Bloomfield, believing that he abandoned her sister when he learned that she had cancer--but that's only part of the story, as she discovers by reading Helen's diary, which alternates with Jessie's narration. Ironically, Jessie continues her own withdrawal as she gradually becomes aware of her true mixed feelings about her sister; yet the dramatic turnaround--triggered as Jessie finally recognizes the depth of her own and others' feelings toward Helen--rings entirely true. Grant writes beautifully here; Jessie's poignant grief is expressed with the authenticity and poetic power of experience recollected after the healing passage of time. A compelling account that concludes with a reconciliation that recalls Ellis' moving finale to A Family Project (1988).

ISBN: 689-31458-2
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Atheneum
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