How do families deal with grief? What churns and changes in them when a parent is lost? Eliza Henry- Jones’ ingenious handling of this topic will answer many anticipated questions and explores many more. Narrated by Cate, the woman who has died, we observe how every member of her family reacts and how they are coping.
She watches Bass, her bereaved husband, as he struggles with new responsibilities and the potential for new relationships. His children Rafferty and Cameron, teenagers on the verge of adulthood, have to come to terms with a changed balance of power in the household while Jessa their younger sister must deal with her own ghosts. They all suffer in their own way. The pressures on the family are revealed with subtlety and in careful detail.
The book casts a wider net than this, to other family members and friends, where they help and where they hinder, how they react and how they cope. It is never laboured and avoids the maudlin. The reality of death and the healing process are cleverly handled and the book avoids becoming a counselling manual.
Its appeal is in the fast, realistic dialogue and the adroit shifts between characters and scenes. By staying true to type and constantly moving from one person to another we are absorbed into the lives of this extended family group. By the end we understand and celebrate the growth they go through as small victories and achievements become milestones of recovery.