The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen
The story plays out just like a Lifetime movie, and I won’t be surprised if one happens to arise from it, so have your tissues handy. True to its name, this novel is about a family’s loss and the impact and consequences of that loss on all the family members.
As I was reading the book, my mind couldn’t help but make strong associations with Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which happens to be one of my favorite books of all time. But unlike Memory Keeper’s Daughter, I just didn’t find myself making the kind of deep connection to the characters as I would have liked. My favorite character was Ricky, the sad yet determined wife and mother with more than her share of dark secrets and longings. She captured my imagination and was very believable. I found myself rooting for her throughout the story. As central as Ricky’s husband, John, was to the story, I didn’t feel the author gave him enough page time. Although when she did, he came across as chronically cranky and stubborn, which made me feel highly annoyed and constantly wishing for an “aha!” moment to occur to him.
Because of the ensemble presentation, it is somewhat difficult to ascertain one plot or intention of the story, so as the ending approached I was left without a true sense of closure. Maybe the author wants us to draw our own conclusions. I’m almost hoping the Lifetime movie will invent an ending and then maybe I’ll understand the author’s motives a little better.
With that said, I am still undecided if I would recommend this book to others; I am trying to identify what type of reader would enjoy it most. For me it was just a little too sad, so perhaps the best type of person to read this book is someone who enjoys, or needs to have, a good crying session.