An affecting collection of correspondence by a grieving woman seeking healing and peace.

A guide to dealing with the suicide of a loved one.

In 2008, after the sudden death of her boyfriend, who threw himself in front of a train in Mountain View, California, Neustadter spiraled into seemingly hopeless depression. However, she was unwilling to inflict similar pain and despair on her own loved ones by taking her own life. Most of the self-help books that she consulted left her with the feeling of being “talked to and coached at, not joined with,” particularly as her main desire was to reconnect with the person whom she lost. In a peculiarly 21st-century response to this feeling, she began writing emails to his former Yahoo! Mail account. The result is this book, the author’s nonfiction debut, in which she groups the emails she wrote into larger categories, such as “Despair,” “Shifting,” and “Beauty,” and adds her own extensive insights on emotional crisis and personal recovery, guided by her experience as a transpersonal psychologist. The author intends her book as “a companion in grief for any survivor left behind without his or her beloved,” and she supplements her personal reflections with a section on spiritual practices and grief resources. However, the heart of the book, and its most memorable element, are the messages to the author’s late boyfriend, which effectively flesh him out as an individual and underscore the immediacy of Neustadter’s pain after losing him: “You became everyone’s favorite,” she writes in an email about their early days together. “How could we resist your white Mickey Mouse hoodie no grown man should ever wear and your big, innocent blue eyes, so light, like the sky?” This device is an effective one, and every one of Neustadter’s readers will immediately sympathize with it; that said, this particular method of grieving may not be a healthy choice for everyone.

An affecting collection of correspondence by a grieving woman seeking healing and peace.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943006-88-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Spark Press

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2019


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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