Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Rules of Inheritance Book Review


Via Janiejones_75 on Flickr

Grandpa passing away. Your lover leaving you heartbroken. The realization that the thing you want wholeheartedly will never be yours.

In some way, we have all experienced loss. We can understand the devastation, the disconnect, the despair that comes with loss. And most likely, we can understand that grief is a process. Because we know the intensity that overwhelms us when we experience a loss not only changes with time, but changes us with time.

So while I have never lost a parent, let alone both parents, Claire Bidwell Smith's The Rules of Inheritance was spoken in a language I could understand.  The memoir relates Smith's experiences, focusing primarily on the period of time from when her elderly parents were both diagnosed with cancer when she was 14. The book is not organized chronologically, but rather groups vignettes together by Kubler-Ross's stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.) Emotion pours out of the pages and we can feel Claire suffocating in her grief. But by the end, like Claire, we find we can breathe again.

I truly enjoyed this book. One of my favorite passages, actually, was about the abortion Smith had when she was 19, just a year after her mother's death. I could relate to the shock of the pregnancy, since I had been in that situation. But her thought process after that was so different than my own. She writes:
It won't be until over a decade later, when I am well into the actual world of parenthood, frazzled and overwhelmed with love and impatience for the tiny creature I have created, that I will realize that if I had actually had a baby at age nineteen it might have been the very thing that would have kept me from the years and years of misery and destruction ahead of me.

I know that having a baby so young did save me from so much heartache. Not that my life was easy and carefree after Abigail came. Far from it. But having that baby- having that intensity of love- totally changed my focus. And once the focus shifted from mememememe! to her, my decisions were better.

I do believe that this book is geared more towards women than men, but I would recommend it to any adult woman. I really enjoyed it- not as a fun read, but as an insightful and emotional journey.

If you think you would like to read this book, leave me a comment and I will pick a winner on February 29 to receive this book!

Disclosure: As before, this was a paid review, but the thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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