From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Family tragedy is healed by domestic routine in this quiet, tender memoir. When his daughter Amy died suddenly at the age of 38 from an asymptomatic heart condition, journalist and novelist Rosen-blatt (Lapham Rising
) and his wife moved into her house to help her husband care for their three young children. Not much happens except for the mundane, crucial duties of child care: reading stories, helping with schoolwork, chasing after an indefatigable toddler who is the busiest person I have ever known, making toast to order for finicky kids. Building on the small events of everyday life, Rosenblatt draws sharply etched portraits of his grandchildren; his stoic, gentle son-in-law; his wife, who feels slightly guilty that she is living her daughter's life; and Amy emerges as a smart, prickly, selfless figure whose significance the author never registered until her death. Rosenblatt avoids the sentimentality that might have weighed down the story; he writes with humor and an engagement with life that makes the occasional flashes of grief all the more telling. The result is a beautiful account of human loss, measured by the steady effort to fill in the void. (Feb. 16)
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Rosenblatt wrote his "hauntingly lovely memoir" (Christian Science Monitor) as a collection of journal-style entries--images, conversations, scenes, and moments of quiet contemplation, ranging from a few sentences to several pages--that encompass the 14 months following Amy's death. Though Rosenblatt's subject matter is weighty, he writes of his grief with grace and sensitivity, while lacing his anger and disbelief with humor and warmth. However, the critics differed with respect to Rosenblatt's writing style: while the Christian Science Monitor found it oddly impassive, the Los Angeles Times characterized it as expressive and eloquent. The Chicago Sun-Times also thought that Rosenblatt's levity seemed somewhat out of place. Yet in the end, Making Toast is just as much a celebration of life as a reckoning with death.