Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review of "The Rules of Inheritance"

It's book review time again! I know the timing of this one is crazy, but it was an enjoyable read. I think there must be so many of us applying, and I'm always thrilled to get a chance to review.

BlogHer Book Club Reviewer

Not many people can, or need to write a memoir in their early 30s. How much experience and knowledge do you have by then?

Claire Bidwell Smith has a lot. In the span of a few months when she was 14-years-old, she found out that both of her parents had cancer. She writes about her experiences in "The Rules of Inheritance."

The memoir covers the experiences and feelings she goes through in the aftermath of this discovery.

Both of Smith's parents are older, and she is basically an only child -- her dad had three adult children from another marriage when she was born.

Smith writes about realizing that by the time she was 30, she wouldn't have either parent. In fact, she lost both by age 25. She does an amazing job conveying the loneliness she felt.

This memoir is not written in chronological order. Instead, it's laid out with the five stages of grief.

"The Rules of Inheritance," while extremely well-written, was difficult to read at times. I was bawling about three pages in. The death of a parent isn't something that I want to even consider or think about. I'm so lucky that not only do I have both of my parents, but all four of my grandparents are also living -- most in reasonable health.

Even though I've never dealt with the level of grief and loss that Smith has, I still identified with her on so many levels. Possibly because we are very close in age, and came of age in the late 90s. More likely it's because she's a truly great writer, who laid everything out for this book. She holds no punches, especially when it comes to herself.

One of the most heart-wrenching moments came when she was in the Philippines shortly after her father's death. She's decided to do a deep-sea dive with sharks, and can't go through with it. She realizes once she's above water that she was really doing something so dangerous in hopes of connecting with her mother, who died six years earlier. This moment is when she really accepted that her mother wasn't there, or coming back.

Smith also writes about being thankful that her mother went first, because that gave her time to really get to know her father as a person. While he had always been loving during her childhood, her mother got more of her focus and attention.

This book is very well-written and engrossing. There were times when I didn't want to put it down. There were also times when I wanted to hug the young girl who had lost so much.

I recommend this book, but probably not when you're 8-9 months pregnant. I will say that reading about what Smith went through made me feel silly for the petty things I complain about on a daily basis.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.


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