Tag Archives: Grief

Review: The Beauty of What Remains

The Beauty of What Remains

The Beauty of What Remains
By Steve Leder
Avery, 9780593187555, January 2021, 240pp.

The Short of It:

I did not expect a book about death and grief to be one of my favorite reads of the year.

The Rest of It:

As the senior rabbi of one of the largest synagogues in the world, Steve Leder has learned over and over again the many ways death teaches us how to live and love more deeply by showing us not only what is gone but also the beauty of what remains. ~ Indiebound

The Beauty of What Remains is my book club’s pick for March. When I picked it up, I really had to push myself to read a book that is essentially about death and the grief that follows it. Death is depressing to me. It’s probably depressing to most people but this book is incredibly uplifting and hopeful. Leder, having sat by thousands of deathbeds as a rabbi knows a thing or two about death but it never really dawned on him what true grieving was until his own father passed away from Alzheimer’s a few years ago.

Death is a great teacher if it impels us to serve the living. ~ Steve Leder

Through anecdotes and real life experiences from those who have sought his counsel, Leder provides a revelatory look at how death can look to loved ones who are forced to face it. It doesn’t have to be the sad, depressing life passage that we’ve come to expect. Leder provides a different viewpoint, one that focuses on the good and his easy, affable way is like the hug you never knew you needed.

“We are helpless in death, but we are not helpless in life.” ~ Steve Leder

I’ve heard countless times how people need comfort reads right now. This pandemic is finally showing signs of moving on and yet, we are still a little raw and on edge. Comfort reads, food, the warm embrace of a loved one (once vaccinated) are all things we need right now. If you don’t think you can get anything out of this book because you haven’t lost anyone recently, think again. Leder’s writing can help you through any loss and we have all experienced loss lately. He has this amazing way of putting things. I would love to just sit in a room with him and listen to him talk. Here’s a clip from the Today show that effectively illustrates what I mean.

The Beauty of What Remains is a beautiful book. It’s funny and hopeful and a valuable resource for anyone who has ever wondered what to say to a friend after they’ve lost a parent or a child. It’s filled with heartwarming examples of how loved ones can be honored before and after death and includes very practical information for anyone who has to plan a funeral or a celebration of life. This stuff is gold. I never thought a book like this would end up on my list of faves for the year but it’s earned a spot on it. I highly recommend it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
By Gail Honeyman
Penguin Books, 9780735220690, 2018, 352pp.

The Short of It:

It took me years to finally pick this book up and now I am hitting myself over the head with my copy because I could have enjoyed it years earlier.

The Rest of It:

What you need to know right off, is that this book has been marketed as “funny” and “warm” and with that colorful cover, it radiates a lightness which is probably why I overlooked it for so long. It remains a popular Reese Witherspoon pick, but nowhere, anywhere have I seen any reference to the heaviness of the story.

This story has some teeth, that’s what I am saying.

Eleanor is quirky and odd and as the author put it, sometimes a bit daft. She possesses a good job and manages to be somewhat social with her co-workers when needed, but in a very, off-putting formal way. She’s efficient when she needs to be, but a complete and total disaster other times.

Early on, it’s clear that something has happened to Eleanor. It’s referred to as “the incident” and it’s left her curiously alone, living in social housing with regular visits from a social worker. This is fine. Eleanor is fine, or so it seems until she meets a new co-worker by the name of Raymond. Up until this point, she has convinced herself that her life is good but Raymond’s sweet, unassuming ways and the kindness he displays forces her to consider the life she’s been living thus far and she has found it to be lacking.

Sigh. This book! It kind of tore me up a little. It’s actually very sad but peppered with “Eleanorisms” which lightens the load as details from the past are slowly revealed. I loved it. I loved how simple the storytelling was and I liked many, many of the characters both large and small. I am sitting here as I write this review, still pondering Eleanor’s story and that is definitely the sign of a great read. It has some sweet moments and really is a story about survival.

I highly recommend it. It would make for an excellent club read. I heard that Witherspoon bought the rights to it early on, to produce a movie down the line. I see no updates on a movie being in the works but I think if there is one, it will be very successful.

This was a book on my Summer Reading List so I am glad to finally check this one off my list and add it to my list of faves.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.