In her debut, Los Angeles Review poetry and translations editor Chernov probes her grief over losing a much-loved father and the inability of contemporary society to accept profound emotion.
Returning to college after her father’s death, the difficulty the author discovered navigating college life was magnified by the response of those around her. Once a sought-after, popular girl, Chernov’s friends dropped away. She describes how this rejection deepened her sense of isolation from the college community. “My emotional baggage and I were not welcome in the college environment,” she writes, “but what I feared, and would soon learn, was that in our culture, emotional baggage of any kind threatens to slow us down to the point of being left behind.” The author’s family's life centered around a summer camp for girls in Wisconsin, which they owned and operated, created by her father's vision of a place where people could feel “loved and safe and free.” Growing up in this environment, Chernov felt cherished even though she was resentful of the campers who shared her family's life each summer. When her father was first diagnosed with cancer, the family was optimistic about a cure, but even as his health deteriorated, his love and determination to enjoy life to the end strengthened them. Chernov writes of her own painful coming-of-age, made more difficult by the stress of anticipating her father's death as his health declined, and how ultimately, she was able to embrace her father's decision not to waste the time he had left.
A contemplative, profoundly moving meditation on life, love and death.