The experiences of watching a mother succumb to cancer and grieving her death are explored with honesty and compassion.
Feder (illustrator: Unladylike, 2018), the oldest of three sisters in a close-knit Jewish family, grew up with an artistic, spirited, playful, and affectionate mother, someone whose high spirits were the perfect foil for her daughter’s anxious personality. The summer after Feder’s freshman year of college, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, dying in the spring of Feder’s sophomore year. This vulnerable memoir is a tribute to a beloved woman as well as a meditation on losing a parent when one is on the cusp of adulthood. Much like grief itself, the book careens from deep despair to humor to poignancy, fear, remorse, and anger, mirroring the emotional disorientation that comes with such a significant death. By sharing many particulars about her mother—the foods she loved and hated, the silly in-jokes, her endearing (and annoying) quirks—Feder personalizes her loss in a way that will resonate with members of the “Dead Moms Club,” with whom she describes having an immediate bond. Readers who have not experienced deep grief will learn from the missteps of well-intentioned friends and acquaintances. The pastel-toned illustrations effectively convey Feder’s youth and the intensity of her emotions while emphasizing the ultimate message of survival and resilience in the face of life-changing grief.
Cathartic and uplifting. (Graphic memoir. 12-adult)