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The Rules of Inheritance Hardcover – February 2, 2012
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*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
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
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But as noted, being orphaned is tremendously disorienting, and the effect on the reader may perhaps simulate that. Recommended for those grieving the loss of one or both parents. NOT recommended to those trying to quit smoking - I don't smoke and there was so much talk of smoking even I was craving a cigarette.
It is so striking how the loss of her parents defined her life...a poignant reminder of the wide scope of experiences and identity in the human condition. And it also goes to show how people with very similar experiences, as well as those with very different experiences, connect. Highly recommended! And fear not - there is a light at the end of the tunnel :)