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The Rules of Inheritance Hardcover – February 2, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hudson Street Press (February 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594630887
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594630880
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Smith lost both parents to cancer as a young adult. In this searing, devastating, and ultimately cathartic memoir, Smith uses Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ well-known five stages of grief as a narrative framework, beginning with denial, followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and ending with acceptance, as she moves back and forth chronologically in time. It is brutally honest as she becomes overwhelmed by grief and by the state of being “parentless.” She falls into a depressive funk. A car accident reminds her that she has no one to call when something like this happens. She drinks too much. She finds little reason to exist. Hearing Dave Eggers read from his best-selling memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), another memoir of loss, is a turning point in her recovery, as she becomes a volunteer coordinator at the Los Angeles branch of Eggers’ 826 Valencia Project, a nonprofit organization that helps children and adults develop writing skills. Today, Smith is a bereavement counselor. By facilitating grief groups, running workshops, and conducting one-on-one counseling sessions, she has come around, as she puts it, to the other side of grief. A powerful, moving memoir of overcoming grief and loss. --June Sawyers

Review

Forget everything you think you know about grief. Smith's memoir is the most honest book I've ever read about how loss unmoors, challenges and changes you, written in prose so exquisite, it could be poetry. Dazzlingly brave and absolutely true. -Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

In this deeply reflective, anguished memoir, L.A. journalist and psychotherapist Smith revisits the staggered death of her two parents from cancer as steps in the process of grieving.Smith's prose possesses a blistering power, rendering this youthful memoir an affecting journey into loss. --Publisher's Weekly

A brave and intelligent book about big loss and even bigger love. The gritty truth and hard won grace in this beautiful memoir astonishes me. -Cheryl Strayed, New York Times bestselling author of WILD

This beautiful memoir is about what we inherit--the love as well as the sorrow and loss that are an inevitable part of human connection.  In lucid, unsentimental prose, Claire Bidwell Smith maps out the story of her abrupt and rocky coming-of-age. This book will stay with me. --Dani Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of Devotion



Claire Bidwell Smith has written a beautiful book; it's a perfectly crafted story -- not about grief, but how to walk out of grief with your soul intact; it's not a lamentaion, but a lesson.THE RULES OF INHERITANCE should be required reading for anybody who's trying to get their arms around a big sadness. -Darin Strauss, Author of HALF A LIFE

"Gritty, poetic, and illuminating." –O Magazine



"A brilliant memoir." –BookReporter



"A powerful, moving memoir of overcoming grief and loss." –Booklist, Starred Review



"In this deeply reflective, anguished memoir, L.A. journalist and psychotherapist Smith revisits the staggered death of her two parents from cancer as steps in the process of grieving.Smith’s prose possesses a blistering power, rendering this youthful memoir an affecting journey into loss." –Publisher's Weekly



"Vivid, real and gripping." –BlackBook Magazine



"This beautiful memoir is about what we inherit–the love as well as the sorrow and loss that are an inevitable part of human connection. In lucid, unsentimental prose, Claire Bidwell Smith maps out the story of her abrupt and rocky coming-of-age with just the right amount of intimacy and distance. This book will stay with me." –Dani Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of Devotion



"Claire Bidwell Smith has written a beautiful book; it’s a perfectly crafted story — not about grief, but how to walk out of grief with your soul intact; it’s not a lamentation, but a lesson. The Rules of Inheritance should be required reading for anybody who’s trying to get their arms around a big sadness." –Darin Strauss, Author of Half a Life



"Forget everything you think you know about grief. Smith’s memoir is the most honest book I've ever read about how loss unmoors, challenges and changes you, written in prose so exquisite it could be poetry. Dazzlingly brave and absolutely true." –Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You



"In The Rules of Inheritance, Claire Bidwell Smith takes us on a heartbreaking journey into grief’s deepest waters and then shows us how she found her way back to hope’s shores. With courageous vulnerability and uncompromising authenticity, Smith demonstrates how she transformed tragic misfortune into a rite of passage." –Jillian Lauren, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem



"A searingly honest, poignant and poetic chronicle of love and loss, examining what it feels like to be ‘nobody’s most important person.’" –Susan Shapiro, author of Lighting Up and Five Men Who Broke My Heart



"The Rules of Inheritance
is a graceful and gritty, and ultimately quite uplifting, exploration of grief. Smith writes gorgeously about the existential tug between life and death, hope and fear, honesty and escape that defined more than a decade of her young life. At once profoundly personal and exquisitely universal, this story will touch all of us, not just those of us who have faced similar losses." –Aidan Donnelly Rowley, author of Life After Yes



"Written in a fluid, arresting style that grabs the reader and won't let go, The Rules of Inheritance serves as a reminder that we are not only capable of descending to the depths of human experience, but that we can rise back up again. It’s a great book." —James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces

More About the Author

Claire Bidwell Smith lives in Los Angeles. She is an experienced therapist specializing in grief. Claire has written for many publications including Slate, Salon.com, BlackBook Magazine, Time Out New York, The Huffington Post and Chicago Public Radio.

Claire has a bachelor's degree from The New School University in Manhattan and a master's degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University in Los Angeles. She has worked for numerous publications and also for nonprofits like Dave Eggers' literacy center 826LA, and as a bereavement counselor for a hospice in Chicago.

Customer Reviews

It is written in a beautiful poetic language, honest simple thought, with a keen eye.
M
None of us will be immune to loss in this life, and the author's story and honesty in her own journey with loss is heartbreaking and healing all at once.
Julia Tuchman
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever experienced the loss of a loved one.
etcbooks

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Karen Lurie on February 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been told that losing a parent is probably one of the most profound losses that a person will experience in their lives. Now I know what this loss feels like. Claire Bidwell-Smith's eloquent and honest memoir has been a true gift, a blessing, and a healing process for me as I try to understand my own journey and grieve the most recent passing of my own father. The kinship the author creates for her readers is absolutely stunning. I felt as if I was receiving my own personal grief counseling. I cried. I laughed. I felt inspired to be a better person, friend and mother. This is a must read for anyone who has experienced losing a parent and found themselves feeling lost, alone and empty. My life has been forever blessed in so many ways by this author's brilliantly written and very personal journey.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By thexanaxdiary on February 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered this book months ago. When I woke up this morning I had received an email that it had been downloaded to my kindle. I began devouring it early this morning as I'd been eagerly anticipating it's arrival since the author told me about it last year--when she was my and my late-husband's grief counselor in hospice.

Claire Bidwell Smith is as bright and eloquent in print as in person. In this memoir Bidwell Smith takes us through her journey of grief as both of her parents are diagnosed with--and sequentially taken by cancer--when she was a teen and young adult--and a serpentine journey it is! Brutally honest, sparing no details of ill-conceived decisions made out of denial and unwillingness to accept what she has either lost--or was losing at the time--was heart wrenching.

But the clarity and perspective from which this story is told hints from the beginning at an inevitable understanding somewhere down the line. It really tinges the whole story in a framework which keeps you turning the page, desperate to find out what this young woman does next as she copes with such devastating loss, and hoping she'll find the answers she is searching for.

I could't put this book down.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By My2Babies on February 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This memoir is an incredibly sad one in which the author's parents both die from cancer by the time she is 25. It is a story of love and loss, numbing heartache and rebuilding a life through the grief. Although she stumbles for years, attempting to navigate through life with a giant gaping hole that permeates her entire being, she is able to emerge from the fog a strong and confident woman.

It is a fast read, gripping and heart pounding. Be prepared to finish the entire book in a sitting or two. And then read it again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Rodriquez on February 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The morning this book was released I found myself reading the whole thing, unable to put it down. This book is quite simply one young woman's journey through the heartbreaking loss of both of her parents at an age when she was still unsure of who she was and who she would become. Claire's powerful and poetic words weave a story that draws the reader in. Several times I was overcome with emotion and had to pause as my eyes blurred with tears. In the end what struck me the most about this book was the powerful simplicity of pure human connection coupled with both the strength and fragility of the human spirit. Claire's tenacity as she works through the stages of grief is both brave and beautiful. This book is a truly amazing piece of art that has the ability to touch lives and inspire others to find their own path through grief to a place of healing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been following Claire Bidwell Smith's blog since the she was in Chicago. I was excited and apprehensive to read her book. I lost my dad to cancer when I was 24 and had been married for one week. I wasn't sure how I could handle reading about her own parents death in such detail. But the truth and honesty she wrote about was done so well. It was from a place that anyhow who has lost someone important to them has encountered to some degree and can relate to her experience. I planned to wait to read this book when it came out in paperback or at the library. I rarely buy books but I decided I couldn't wait and bought the Kindle version. I read it in one day. You won't be sorry buying this book. You'll just be hungry for more to read and find out what happens next in her life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Keener on November 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this beautiful, powerful memoir in half a day; unable to stop, devouring Claire's gorgeous words and sentences--crying grateful tears as I read her final chapters. I won't recap what it's about. What I want to say here is that every sentence, every word sings, whispers, shouts with truth and honesty and the potency of love--the love of a child for her parents lost; the love of a child struggling to find her way alone, the love of a child who cried out to the universe and came to write this beautiful book so others could receive Claire's hard-earned gifts of understanding. Every one of us experiences grief and loss; it's part of who we are and Claire's presence, her compassion and warmth, her anger and forgiveness offers warmth and healing and grace in this pages. This book is a gift. Simply extraordinary.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is lovely. And sad. And honest.

I loved this take on the process of grief when losing a loved one (or two in this case). What is excellent about the book is the completely honest point of view and it's poignant writing style.

I admit that about half way through I felt it dragging and that feeling never really subsided. Not sure what accounts for this. It just began to get monotonous. It's still an excellent read and worth reading and sharing with a friend.
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