Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen

From Amazon - The Ryries have suffered a loss: the death of a baby just fifty-seven hours after his birth. Without words to express their grief, the parents, John and Ricky, try to return to their previous lives. Struggling to regain a semblance of normalcy for themselves and for their two older children, they find themselves pretending not only that little has changed, but that their marriage, their family, have always been intact. Yet in the aftermath of the baby’s death, long-suppressed uncertainties about their relationship come roiling to the surface. A dreadful secret emerges with reverberations that reach far into their past and threaten their future.

The couple’s children, ten-year-old Biscuit and thirteen-year-old Paul, responding to the unnamed tensions around them, begin to act out in exquisitely—perhaps courageously—idiosyncratic ways. But as the four family members scatter into private, isolating grief, an unexpected visitor arrives, and they all find themselves growing more alert to the sadness and burdens of others—to the grief that is part of every human life but that also carries within it the power to draw us together.

This is such a sad novel. A baby, who is born anencephalic (part of his brain  and the top of his skull are missing), dies days after he is born.  The Ryries try to put it behind them and move on with their lives but the infant's death changed all of their lives in some aspect. 

From the  mother, to the husband and to how the children handle the loss in their lives, Cohen spins her story lyrically, building the complexity of grief and how it is handled by four different people, and yet how it resonates with each of them and affects their family bond.

I had difficulty with the mother, Ricky, even having the baby, knowing what she did while she was pregnant.  The poor angel never had a chance.  But I can't even imagine the strain that put, not only with herself, but on the rest of the family.  An enrapturing read, told with a firm voice, with a despairing subject at it's core, The Grief of Others will tug at your heart.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Wow! Sounds like a great story and a tough story to read all at the same time. Thanks for the great review.

  2. how do you have time to read all these books, super impressed

  3. One person doesn't read them all - we have a great team who read and review the books on the blog :) I'd be impressed too if I was doing them all by myself LOL


The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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