Sunday, March 16, 2008

Good FROM Grief

Good Grief
by Lolly Winston

First off, further apologies for the lulls between posts lately. We are still having trouble getting everyone well. Had G. in the emergency room on Thursday night with croup (if your kid has ever had croup, you know how frightening it is). They gave him a steroid and a breathing treatment, and he felt much better. Friday and Saturday were fine. Saturday was his second birthday, and he had a wonderful time. Then Sunday morning he woke up with fever and the mother of all colds. Poor little guy. We'll all get through it, but it seems like after a pretty mild winter, illness wise, these kids are cramming a whole season's worth of sickness into the last gasp of winter.

Now, about the book. I have to say, I do think this is what is sometimes disparagingly called a "chick book." I do not mean it in a pejorative way - I am unashamed in my affinity for chick books and chick movies, feminist that I am. In an interview at the end of the book, Lolly Winston stated that she does not think of herself as a "women's writer," and instead would like to be seen as a writer for everyone. She said "I want George Clooney to read my books." I do not know George personally, but frankly I do not see it happening.

Genre or sub-genre aside, this is a good read. Winston takes Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief (denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance) and imagines how someone might live those out. She artfully shows how the protagonist (Sophie) does not pass through these in a linear way, with everything all tied up neatly at the end, but weaves in and out and through these stages during the first year after her young husband's death from cancer. It seems like a much more realistic approach to portray someone experiencing all five stages in one day at times, or being trapped in one stage for awhile, or whatever. Winston's larger point seems to be that people go through grief differently and need to be cared for and supported through every part of the journey.

In spite of the sad subject, the story has a lot of humor. The dialogue rings true, and the relationships develop in a way that seems natural and not contrived. A couple of the situations that Sophie gets herself into seem a little bit too Lucille Ball-ish to be real. The descent of one character into Alzheimer's disease in the space of just a few months also seems a little too quick to be true. However, these are minor criticisms. The power of the story lies in its ability to depict the power of relationship and community to cleanse and heal. It's definitely worth reading - for guys, too, although I doubt that many of them will. Most guys don't gravitate to a book with pink bunny slippers on the cover. My prediction is that women will "get it" more, but its message of hope in the midst of despair is for everyone.

Reverent Reader


At 3/17/08, 10:15 AM , Blogger ssf said...

Oh my goodness, poor G.! We are sending hugs and kisses and hope the b-day went well.

At 3/17/08, 6:06 PM , Blogger LeAnn said...

Oh, Leslie, I LOVED this book! I was hooked after reading the jacket cover, that Sophie wanted to be a Jackie Kennedy sort of widow, but turned out to be more the Jack Daniels type. Thanks for the reminder. It has been a while since I read it, but appreciated it immensely. Her relationship with her "Little sister" pointed to how unpredictable grace is, and the unlikely places and situations in which we encounter life-changing community.

And sorry to hear that my buddy G is still under the weather. At least he was able to sandwich one day of relative health into this onslaught of illness.

Here's to a healthy Holy Week!

At 3/17/08, 8:58 PM , Blogger Reverent Reader said...

Hey Leann - Oh yeah, I loved Crystal. I thought that whole relationship was really authentic and funny and unexpected grace. More bad news - E. took G. to the doctor today and he was diagnosed with pneumonia! A very light case, but still, not something you want to mess around with. He is on another antibiotic now and hopefully will be better soon. The bummer is that he is supposed to stay still and quiet. AS IF!

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