Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Luna's Red Hat by Emmi Smid

Title: Luna's Red Hat
Author: Emmi Smid
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley
Rating: WORTHY!

DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley. I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration for this review. The chance to read a new book is often enough reward aplenty!

The author is a bereavement specialist from the Netherlands. She has written this book to help parents talk to children about suicide, to help children understand what happened and that it's no one's fault, especially not theirs, and that life will have to go on without the loved one because death is final.

It's the beginning of spring, and Luna is in the park with her dad and baby brother for a picnic, but she's not feeling very sunny. There's one person missing: her mom. Mom killed herself (perhaps from post-partum depression) and Luna, who is wearing her mother's hat, is very angry that her own mom should voluntarily choose to leave her like that.

Dad honestly tries to understand exactly what's on Luna's mind. He takes her seriously and listens to what she has to say. He doesn't talk down to her or try to belittle what she says or is feeling. He doesn't get too deep or into too much detail. He lets Luna ventilate all she wants, and he comments where he thinks she needs to hear his voice.

Carefully choosing his words, he explains what happened and that sometimes, in a situation like this, there's nothing anyone can do no matter how much they feel they should have done something or known something.

There's a section in back where Dr Fiddelaers-jaspers discusses bereavement where it affects young children and offers sensible and useful advice about what to do. I sincerely hope no one reading this will ever need a book like this, but if you do, or if someone you know might benefit from it, it's there, and I think it's does a great job. The illustrations are suitably child-like and colorful, and the text is brief and simple - easy to understand, easy to read, easy to share with a child.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Other Sister by ST Underdahl

Title: The Other Sister
Author: ST Underdahl
Publisher: Flux
Rating: WORTHY!

Susan Thompson Underdahl is a psychologist who has experienced the very story she relates in this novel, and relate she does. I don't know how much of it is fiction and how much is actual memory, but I do know this was a novel I read through from cover to cover in one sitting, and I enjoyed it immensely. Afterwards I found myself wondering how the Josey's real life counterpart felt when she learned that this novel was coming out.

The novel is about Audrey, an adoptee, contacting her birth mother and discovering she has a birth father married to that same mother and she has two brothers and a sister in that same family. I can;t imagine what kind of a shock or revelation that would be to a young woman. Underdahl was the 'Audrey' of this novel, but she told it from the 'Josey' perspective which is interesting, and is perhaps what I might have done if I'd been in her position. I think she was able to empathize with Josey so well because in some regards, Audrey and Josey were the same person while at the same time being quite different, having gone through very different experiences and having an outlook on life which differed in many ways.

Josette, sixteen, is the middle child, with an older brother Jake and a younger brother Julian (yeah, I know). She's a straight-A student who wants to become a psychologist. She has two best friends, Sarah and Britt, and comes home one day after studying with them to discover that her mother has some news about which she's very nervous about sharing with her daughter. Josey has never seen her mother quite like this. Why her father isn't present for this discussion I don't know. I found that slightly disturbing, but his absence at that particular time is actually a part of the story in a way; it's a harbinger of the relationship between Josey and her parents which bubbles up later in the novel.

Josey (I don't like that name, neither in its full version nor the diminutive) is hit rather harder than her brothers by this news. Why her mother chose to tell her before she told either of the sons, and especially given that one of the sons is older, is also dealt with later in the novel. I think in this case it was a wise decision, but later, the parental decisions were not so wise in these events!

Since the real story took place twenty years before, Underdahl chooses to address the lack of Internet and email by giving Audrey an aversion to tel phone contact and having the initial correspondence take place via snail mail, although the very first contact, not with Audrey but with a social worker, comes by phone. The purpose of the call to ask Anne (Josey's mother) if she's averse to her adopted daughter contacting her. Anne gives the go-ahead and soon receives an intelligently-written letter from Audrey tentatively opening the lines of communication. There's a photograph enclosed, of Audrey and her fiance. Audrey looks very much like Josey.

This is the first of a series of crises through which Josey goes. The next is when she learns that Audrey is a psychologist. Josey now feels that she has lost her position as only daughter, and as senior daughter, as well as being 'replaced' by someone who looks like her, has usurped her career goal, and is occupying almost all of her mother's attention. It's heartening to see how Josey, so young and so struggling, steps up to the situation. I doubt that I would have handled it so well at her age.

Yet despite her rather heroic struggle, she is struggling. Her parents arrange for a meeting in Cancun - neutral ground - so that they can all meet and get to know one another. Because Anne works for an airline, she's able to get discount fares and they occupy a small villa, and spend three all-too-short days together, but Josey notices that Audrey is crying at one point, and when they part at the end of the vacation, she says something mean to her new sister and, too late, regrets it.

In the end it's all resolved and the outcome works for everyone, but there is a journey before Josey can get there, and it's a journey with some surprising revelations about her calm and confident older sister. But this is something you will have to find out for yourself. Despite the misgivings I had after reading Susan Underdahl's bio (she knew a ghost for eight years? She can sometimes breathe underwater?) which made me doubt her veracity in other regards, this novel is all I'm reviewing here, not the author, and the novel is well-done, sensitively written, inventive, entertaining, and very enjoyable. I rate it worthy!