A moving story of loss and recovery and a valuable resource for those in the midst of their own grief journeys.

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WE LOST HER

SEVEN YOUNG SIBLINGS' EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL REAL-LIFE GRIEF JOURNEY AFTER THEIR MOTHER'S TRAGIC DEATH

A woman recounts her journey through grief and healing following the tragic death of her mother.

When Krohne was 14, her 40-year-old mother, Delores Mueller, died suddenly due to complications from childbirth. She left behind seven children and an alcoholic husband ill-equipped to cope without his wife. “I don’t think Dad had any idea of the work my Mom did until she wasn’t there,” the author recalls. The family muddled through the crisis. Krohne and her brothers and sisters largely went on to have successful careers and happy families. But they hadn’t healed. Pressure to remain stoic following their mother’s death caused them to hide their true feelings even as they “all crumbled inside, only the outside crust…holding up.” In her affecting debut, Krohne draws on her memories to review the events before and after her mother’s death, recalling her feelings of anger (at both her father and God) for what happened to her parent. In spare prose, meant to give “a sense of the direct way our family communicated,” she shares how, many years later, she was able to reconnect with her grief and continue the long-overdue healing process. Krohne’s decision to interview each of her six siblings, whose sometimes-contradictory memories of their mother’s passing are shared in individual chapters, results in an effective depiction of the deeply personal nature of grief. While the author occasionally veers into detailed (and not always compelling) family history, her precise recollections of growing up in rural poverty in the 1960s and 1970s give her story a strong sense of place. Although Krohne doesn’t shy away from discussing the vital role religion plays in her own life, she avoids proselytizing. What emerges is both a candid family portrait and tribute to a beloved mother and a touching account of the complicated process of working through grief, particularly the role that faith can play in healing. Includes black-and-white family photos.

A moving story of loss and recovery and a valuable resource for those in the midst of their own grief journeys.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-975686-73-4

Page Count: 198

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A miscellany of paternal pride (and frustration) darkened by the author’s increasing realizations of his mortality.

DAD'S MAYBE BOOK

Ruminations and reminiscences of an author—now in his 70s—about fatherhood, writing, and death.

O’Brien (July, July, 2002, etc.), who achieved considerable literary fame with both Going After Cacciato (1978) and The Things They Carried (1990), returns with an eclectic assembly of pieces that grow increasingly valedictory as the idea of mortality creeps in. (The title comes from the author’s uncertainty about his ability to assemble these pieces in a single volume.) He begins and ends with a letter: The initial one is to his first son (from 2003); the terminal one, to his two sons, both of whom are now teens (the present). Throughout the book, there are a number of recurring sections: “Home School” (lessons for his sons to accomplish), “The Magic Show” (about his long interest in magic), and “Pride” (about his feelings for his sons’ accomplishments). O’Brien also writes often about his own father. One literary figure emerges as almost a member of the family: Ernest Hemingway. The author loves Hemingway’s work (except when he doesn’t) and often gives his sons some of Papa’s most celebrated stories to read and think and write about. Near the end is a kind of stand-alone essay about Hemingway’s writings about war and death, which O’Brien realizes is Hemingway’s real subject. Other celebrated literary figures pop up in the text, including Elizabeth Bishop, Andrew Marvell, George Orwell, and Flannery O’Connor. Although O’Brien’s strong anti-war feelings are prominent throughout, his principal interest is fatherhood—specifically, at becoming a father later in his life and realizing that he will miss so much of his sons’ lives. He includes touching and amusing stories about his toddler sons, about the sadness he felt when his older son became a teen and began to distance himself, and about his anguish when his sons failed at something.

A miscellany of paternal pride (and frustration) darkened by the author’s increasing realizations of his mortality.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-618-03970-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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