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Review: Making Toast

Making Toast
By Roger Rosenblatt
February 2010

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

When his daughter, Amy, died suddenly of a heart condition, Roger Rosenblatt and his wife moved in with their son-in-law and their three young grandchildren. His story tells how a family makes the possible out of the impossible.

The Short of It:

Making Toast, although touching at times, lacks the emotional punch that you’d expect from a memoir.

The Rest of It:

As a reader, we are given brief snippets of information about the family. What the children like for breakfast, what they like to wear…their favorite color, you get the idea. This information is given to us in a very friendly, casual way. My problem with this is that it was so casual in the telling that I didn’t feel as if the author was really letting me into his life.

I’ll explain. This was obviously a very painful loss for the entire family, but I didn’t really feel that the author wanted me to know how truly painful it was. I felt as if he was sharing this information with me but with filters in place. As if he didn’t want me to know how he truly felt. There are moments where he mentions his anger but I never felt his anger coming off the page.

Also, it would have helped to know a bit more about Amy, his daughter. He touches on memories of her childhood, and a bit about her work but it wasn’t enough for me to really get a feel for her, and I really did want to get a feel for her as a person.

The significance of the title is very touching. Rosenblatt finds comfort in making toast for his grandchildren. Such a simple act. One child likes it buttered, another likes it with cinnamon, etc. I was moved when I read this part because Rosenblatt went into why it was special for him.

Rosenblatt’s story covers a year. Perhaps it would have been better to focus on the first six months as I’m sure there was a lot of adjustment taking place during that time. I would’ve liked to have heard more about Amy’s relationship with her dad. The bond between a father and a daughter is usually quite strong.

Overall, it’s a touching story but I never really got to know anyone within it, so it sort of left me with an “unfinished” feeling. I can only imagine how horrible it would be to lose your daughter so suddenly.

The back of the book states that Making Toast was originally an essay that was published in The New Yorker back in 2008. I may look for that essay to see how it differs from the book.

Source: This ARC was sent to me by HarperCollins/Ecco.