WITHOUT JENNY by Mark  Gunther


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A couple, devastated by the sudden loss of their young daughter, search for a reprieve from their grief. 

Joy Rosenberg has an enviable if ordinary life—she has a devoted and successful husband, a fulfilling career as a designer, and two beautiful children. Her storybook world shatters, though, when her 10-year-old daughter, Jenny, suddenly dies in a freak accident. Friends and family close ranks to provide support, but their compassion can be suffocating. In one scene beautifully drawn by debut author Gunther, a neighbor barges into the house insisting she cook the Rosenbergs an elaborate meal and takes umbrage when told her unannounced visit is an intrusion. Guilt overwhelms Joy—Jenny died alone in her car while her mother quickly ran to an ATM. And even years afterward, she struggles with a return to the quotidian—her husband, Danny, immerses himself so fully in his work his “grief was becoming indiscernible.” Meanwhile, she still makes daily “pilgrimages” to Jenny’s now unoccupied room, a torturous rite of anguish. She turns to the distractions of yoga and work, accompanies Danny to a support group meeting, and solicits guidance and consolation from Judaism, all to no avail. Eventually, her marriage falters under the weight of their loss, and she’s tormented by the impact the tragedy will have on her son, Jake, who was 6 when Jenny died. Gunther powerfully depicts Joy’s despair and her inconsolability despite outpourings of love and support. The story is achingly sad, but the author manages to interject wry humor into its darkness: “I feel like the eternal battle between good and evil is going on inside me, like I can change the future of the universe. And I have to do the laundry?” Here and there, editorial markings remain within the manuscript, which can obscure the text and lead to confusion. Nonetheless, this is an unflinching exploration of heartache in its most extreme expression. 

A moving account of love and mourning.

Pub Date: April 20th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-63393-546-4
Page count: 232pp
Publisher: Koehler Books
Program: Kirkus Indie
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