BLOSSOMS OF THE LOWER BRANCHES by Rebecca Guevara

BLOSSOMS OF THE LOWER BRANCHES

A Hero's Journey Through Grief
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An intimate, metaphor-rich guide for directing grief into a hero’s journey.

Guevara struggled for years to come to terms with her brother’s suicide; routine days filled with writing, parenting and living altered the moment she learned of his unexpected death. Forced into mourning, the author surrendered to a “schizophrenic tumbling of emotion,” alternately laughing and crying, hiding in busyness and succumbing to the inertia of doing nothing. A chance immersion in mixed media became the catalyst for the author’s chance to heal; while reading a magazine article about mythological heroes, with peripheral interruptions from the televised Tour de France race and a nearby newspaper ad for the new Batman film, Guevara realized a connection between the hero’s journey and grief recovery. The Utah-based writer and teacher shares her epiphany in this singular amalgam of memoir, self-help and fable. Per Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ 1969 book On Death and Dying, Guevara acknowledges that loss elicits a multistage process of grieving that is unique to each person. Those who complete this process and emerge whole are, in effect, heroes. Without burdening readers with gory details or sentiment, Guevara illustrates her point by comparing her experiences to those of literary, historical and biblical figures. Like sleepers awoken by a telephone ringing in the middle of the night, Joan of Arc, Moses and Buddha hear the call to begin their respective treks to victory, freedom and enlightenment. William Styron’s Sophie in Sophie’s Choice incorporates past horrors into daily life, defining her moods and movements irrespective of others. After his long journey, Odysseus returns home to a changed Ithaca that he must accept as a new reality. While not necessarily the best resource for those requiring an emotional approach to overcoming grief, Guevara’s stream of erudite examples can be a comfort to readers who need to intellectualize a tragedy. Declaring oneself a hero after surviving a painful voyage is also a resourceful, concrete action that gives meaning to death’s incomprehensibility.

A balm for those seeking a new way to heal from loss.

Pub Date: May 17th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0979395833
Page count: 308pp
Publisher: Panoply
Program: Kirkus Indie
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