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The Summer of the Great-Grandmother (Crosswicks Journal, Book 2) Paperback – January 1, 1984
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Top Customer Reviews
My grandmother is gone: she was an artist, a world-traveller, a cook. Now, she does not know me, she doesn't remember her children (except my aunt who has been a constant in her life), she can't "do for herself" anymore. I just want her to have life back. I was touched by the way L'Engle put that --to be born again through death.
I also enjoyed hearing about the life of two fascinating and wonderful women, both L'Engle and her mother. The book is a substantial, warm, human look into L'Engle's thoughts and her family.
Like A Circle of Quiet, the book is autobiographical and takes place at "Crosswicks," the L'Engle/Franklin home in Connecticut. As the title indicates, L'Engle's mother, freshly a great-grandmother, is living with them, and her health and cognitive ability is swiftly declining. Throughout the book--really, like A Circle of Quiet, a collection of journal entries--the author deals with losing the mother that she used to know to senility and incontinence, as well as the effects and ramifications of death.
I've never had anyone close to me die, so I can't relate to this book as much as I could to A Circle of Quiet or Walking on Water, but it's superbly written (L'Engle's words always seem to be alive and breathing), and I imagine that it would be a great comfort to those who are dealing with death.
L'Engle begins her account with the changes that she has noticed in her mother who has come for her annual summer stay at Crosswicks. She is suffering from artherosclerosis and needs constant care, fears the unknown and unnameable, and is no longer the mother that L'Engle knew. L'Engle openly shares the joyous times - the memories of the fabulous life that her mother lived - alongside the difficult times - wondering if it's wrong to want her mother to die so she does not have to suffer. All the while, the reader sees L'Engle's struggle to reconcile her faith and reason, to know what is right concering honoring a loved one as they die, to come to terms with the births that come along with dying.
"The Summer of the Great-Grandmother" is a book that will offer solace for anyone who has experienced something similar or is all too familiar with death. Other reviewers have taken umbrage that L'Engle is preachy or revisionist; perhaps they are forgetting this is a private journal she made public, her emotions and opinions made bare not in an effort to instruct or coerce, but to offer insight and possibly some hope. Her family had more than its share of remarkable stories, but then it is no wonder that L'Engle herself would lead such an amazing life. It makes one wonder what the end was like for her, a woman who has touched so many lives through her writing, whose words will forever live on and enchant.