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"How long are you staying, Boppo?"

"Forever."

When his daughter, Amy—a gifted doctor, mother, and wife—collapses and dies from an asymptomatic heart condition, Roger Rosenblatt and his wife, Ginny, leave their home on the South Shore of Long Island to move in with their son-in-law, Harris, and their three young grandchildren: six-year-old Jessica, four-year-old Sammy, and one-year-old James, known as Bubbies. Long past the years of diapers, homework, and recitals, Roger and Ginny—Boppo and Mimi to the kids—quickly reaccustom themselves to the world of small children: bedtime stories, talking toys, playdates, nonstop questions, and nonsequential thought. Though reeling from Amy's death they carry on, reconstructing a family, sustaining one another, and guiding three lively, alert, and tender-hearted children through the pains and confusions of grief. As he marvels at the strength of his son-in-law, a surgeon, and the tenacity and skill of his wife, a former kindergarten teacher, Roger attends each day to "the one household duty I have mastered"—preparing the morning toast perfectly to each child's liking.

With the wit, heart, precision, and depth of understanding that has characterized his work, Roger Rosenblatt peels back the layers on this most personal of losses to create both a tribute to his late daughter and a testament to familial love. The day Amy died, Harris told Ginny and Roger, "It's impossible." Roger's story tells how a family makes the possible of the impossible.

Topics: Grief and Parenting

Published: HarperCollins on Feb 16, 2010
ISBN: 9780061969874
List price: $6.99
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Roger Rosenblatt's daughter Amy, a wife and mother of three small children died one day while on her treadmill from some type of oddity in her heart that is not supposed to kill you. Roger and his wife move from their home on Long Island to live with their son in law and help take care of the children. It covers the first 18 months as well at looking back at Amy's life growing up with her two brothers. Although I tired a little of the perfectness of all the people mentioned (no one was ever just a little bit selfish?), it was a loving tribute to his daughter - I hope everyone in the family is doing well 3 years later.read more
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I loved the excerpt I read in a magazine, and was excited to discover Rosenblatt's book in my library. I've always loved his writing, but the whole book was a disappointment. It's a very poignant story - Rosenblatt and his wife moving in with their son in law after his wife, their daughter, dies, to help care for the grandchildren. And I feel bad commenting on the writing, when what they did was so magnificent, but it fell flat for me. I think something like this is too hard to write about until it's long in the past, if ever.read more
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A beautifully crafted memoir of grief and its impact on the author's family.read more
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I’m so glad I didn’t read this story any sooner (since my dad died in Feb 2010) I’m not sure that I could have taken it. It’s amazing what can happen when a parent dies for the kids or a child dies before their parents. This is a story about both. Amazingly Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt live close enough to help their son-in-law Harris and their 3 grandchildren after the sudden death of their daughter, wife, mother.

It’s amazing what love can do to help you overcome anything. Grandparents become surrogate parents, aunts and uncles become new friends to help the children adapt. The most lucky thing is the children are young so that it might be easier to adjust.

Family seems to be the story of the day as they all deal with Amy’s death differently. Mom Ginny tries to help out and take her place whenever possible. Dad Roger struggles to find his place in the process. Husband Harris struggles in his own way. In the end they all do come through, but with many trials and tribulations along the way.
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This book was sad but not depressingly sad. When their daughter Amy dies unexpectedly, Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt move in with their son in law to help raise their three grandchildren, Jessica, Sammy and James (aka Bubbies). You can tell it is both painful and comforting at the same time for them to take over Amy's role as parent. There are many touching moments in this book such as when Sammy lies on the floor in the same position they found his mother in. I think the grandchildren really help Roger and Ginny through the grief of losing their daughter. Roger tells little tales of Amy's life, intertwined with stories of dealing with grief and stories of their new daily life with their grandchildren. This book tells the story of how one can be very grief-stricken but still continue on. I found myself both feeling their pain and laughing at the antics of the children. It is a very honest memoir. Probably one of the most honest I have ever read. This was a quick read and I found it very touching and beautifully done.read more
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This is a spare, even elegant memoir about the aftermath of tragedy. The author's daughter, Amy, died on her treadmill from a rare congenital heart problem leaving behind her grieving children. Mr. Rosenblatt and his wife immediately moved in with their son-in-law and the three children and started the process of figuring out life after Amy.All death has its own flavor, its own level of tragedy - the sudden death of a loved one is hard because there is no preparation - there is simply before and after. In an instant you cross the line between what was and what is now and I'm not sure you ever fully recover. Perhaps the hardest part is the grieving you do for the person you might've been - its maddening, angering, terrifying, and difficult.Mr. Rosenblatt writes well of this and there are moments in this book when I wiped away tears. This could have been either so painful it couldn't be borne or so trite and cliched it couldn't be read, but it is neither. It is sharp, clear and focused with loving portraits of a family, particularly the three children.I have some discomfort with this book, some choices that lessened its impact for me. The author tends to name drop famous people who are bereft by the loss of his daughter and, while I understand that these are family friends, it also feels out of place in the larger context of memoir. I was also troubled by the basic non-portrayal of their Fillipino nanny, who extended her hours to help the family and who reminds them of how many more resources they have than most. It strikes me odd that her presence is peripheral and unimportant, although the author notes how much the children love her.Lastly, I heard an interview with the author on NPR where the interviewer basically fawned over him and his book, yet neither he nor the interviewer acknowledged his long history with PBS. I was very uncomfortable with that once I read the book and it heightened some of the problems in the book that prevent its beautiful writing from soaring to its potential height.read more
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Roger Rosenblatt has written a love story to his daughter, his wife, his grandchildren, is in-laws, and his friends. Snippets of a life, without its light, make for a beautiful story of love and loss.When their daughter Amy dies suddenly, leaving her children and her stoic husband, Roger and his wife Ginny move in to help. Roger feels his only job is to make toast. A skillful writer, he makes the everyday magical as they navigate a new reality, one without Amy. Accepting the unacceptable is their new life.I really liked this book, and the people in it. I want to know how it all turns out. I wish them only the best!I read this on my e-reader while traveling and recovering, and I got it from the library. I love this thing!read more
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An unexpected and tragic death, a family grieving, the everyday life that goes on after disaster strikes - "Making Toast" has the potential to help those who face similar heartache; tragically, the author has no relationship with a loving God who weeps with the brokenhearted, which might have made his move through grieving easier, or less life-long, but his real honest raw emotions are muted and understated - poignant even.read more
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Roger Rosenblatt writes a tender, touching memoir chronicling his family’s life after the sudden death of his daughter. He and his wife move in with their son-in-law to help with their three young grandchildren and tells their story in a series of thoughtful, sometimes abrupt, sometimes heartbreaking vignettes. It’s a loving tribute to his daughter. Highly recommended.I had read the original essay which was published in The New Yorker a couple of years ago. This book expands on that story. HarperCollins/Ecco kindly provided the ARC.read more
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Very touching -- it would be a perfect little memoir of love, loss, and family if it weren't for the name dropping.read more
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Roger Rosenblatt’s Making Toast is a memoir by a man whose adult daughter, Amy, dies suddenly, prompting him and his wife to move in with their son-in-law to help raise their three small children. It is written in a series of simple, understated vignettes, which give snapshots of Rosenblatt’s memories of his daughter and his observations of his children and grandchildren in the wake of Amy’s death. Rather than a lament of grief, this memoir is more an affirmation of the life that continues on despite tragedy.If I have any complaints about this book (besides the frequent name dropping, which is unnecessary and detracts from the story), it is the fact that all of the characters, family members and friends alike, are just too good. If there are really such selfless people in the world, people who don’t have just a little bit of jealousy, resentment, or just plain waking up in a bad mood, I haven’t met them. The casual wealth of the family is another aspect of the book that is difficult for me to relate to. Yet, overall, the vignettes flow naturally, and the gentle observations of the children ring true.“One evening, Sammy rushes into the room naked from head to toe. ‘Boppo!’ he says, having just seen 101 Dalmations. ‘The dalmation puppies were saved!’ I ask, ‘Sammy, where are your clothes?’ He says, ‘The puppies were going to be skinned for coats!’ He glances at Amy’s picture. ‘I miss Mommy,’ he says. ‘Me, too,’ I say.”I enjoyed reading this memoir.read more
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What happens when a world renowned author loses a daughter? Usually only friends and family will hear about it. But, for Roger Rosenblatt that wasn't what he needed. He needed to try and work through the first year plus a few months by writing about his feelings and the changes in his life that occurred when middle-child, and only daughter, died from an undiagnosed heart defect. Amy was a married doctor, mother of three and loved by anyone who met her. When she died with her oldest child being only six Roger and his wife Ginny moved in with their son-in-law and the three children to try and fill a hole that broke apart the families world.

I managed to read the whole book in one day, which isn't that remarkable since it was originally written as an essay, but I also managed to read it without tears. Those came as I finished the book and realized that those three children and their father, aunts, uncles, and both sets of grandparents still struggle daily to understand what happened and to try and move forward.

The book isn't written as a history or as a biography but as a stream of remembrances. How Amy was at six, then as a teen, the as a toddler, then as a college student. The memories are triggered often by her children. They will say or do something that reminds Roger of something Amy did that was similar or how she handled it with the oldest but that the youngest will never know.

The children play a central part in the story, from trying to help them cope with the loss of a mother to learning their day to day habits and trying to help a father who feels lost without his mate. But it is also a story about how two grandparents learn to cope with the loss of a daughter and the sudden responsibility of caring for three small children (not alone but they do take on a whole new lifestyle).

A touching, heartbreaking story and one that I'm very glad I took the time to read.

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Rosenblatt writes on a very personal level about the sudden death of his adult daughter and the aftermath. He and his wife join his son-in-law's household to help raise the three young children. Interspersed with the children's reactions and daily interactions are memories of his daughter's youth and their family.read more
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I can probably guess what some of you are thinking: Are you kidding me? Not another tragi-memoir. Never fear, fellow readers. Rosenblatt does not stoop to histrionics here. This memoir is wonderful. I am not a fan of overly sentimental writing, especially in the memoir genre which can sometimes be whiny and self-aggrandizing. Making Toast is a refreshing read. Rosenblatt's prose is simple and not affected at all. As a result, the spare writing makes the book all the more stunning.By the end of this slim narrative I felt as if I had also moved in with Rosenblatt's newly widowed son-in-law, Harris, and their three children- Jessica, Sammy, and James. Rosenblatt is tender in his writing, and although I initially felt his style to be too choppy, I soon fell into the rhythm of his writing and finished the book in one sitting. I was sad when it was over; I wanted to know more about their lives. Highly recommended.read more
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Life is short and none of us knows if we will even have tomorrow let alone next year. That was certainly true for Amy Rosenblatt Solomon, pediatrician, wife, mother of three young children. Her unexpected death made it impossible for her husband Harris to continue his career as a hand surgeon and father to their three children. Consequently, he enlisted the help of Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt, Amy's parents and his in-laws. They moved into the Solomon home in Bethesda,MD, and picked up the slack. Known as Boppo, Roger Rosenblatt, the granddad and nationally known author, became adept at 'making toast' for breakfast in whatever style each child wanted. His wife, Ginny, a former kindergarten teacher, took on her daughter's role as caretaker for the children, homework helper, cook, etc. Between the two of them, Roger and Ginny helped the family to get through the first year without Amy. In turn, the children and Harris helped them work through their grief. The book is such a heartbreaker in parts, but is also such a wonderful picture of how a family can come together and heal. Rosenblatt is very honest about his feelings. The book was so good that I was sorry when I got to the last page.read more
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Although profoundly sad, as would any book about the loss of a child, there is hope and recovery in this memoir as well. Roger Rosenblatt, writer and producer, has captured a range of emotions in his story of the sudden and unexpected death of his 38 yr old daughter, Amy.I lost my only son, and I know I felt like the friend of his that he describes in the book that was more than just a little angry at God. I still feel like him sometimes.However, as much as this book is about loss, it is also about how life must go on for those left behind and what that looks like on a daily basis. He views how each of the family members handles their loss differently and how each tries to pick up parts of Amy for the sake of each other and her three small children. It is comforting to read through the daily routines, the kind gestures, the periods of profound sadness, and come away with the sense that time will lessen the grief even if it does not make it go away.Grandparenting takes on a whole new dimension for Roger and his wife, Ginny, or maybe I should just say parenting because they really step up to the plate for their son in law and move in to take care of Amy’s three very young children. It becomes a family affair to envelop, love, shelter, and nurture Jessie, Sammy and Bubbies. Thank you Roger, for sharing such a personal and deeply sad part of your life and helping all of your readers realize that those of us who are left have to get up every day and make the toast or anything else that will help us move on. It is an affirmation that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.read more
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I have already written a letter to the author of MAKING TOAST, attempting to tell him what a beautiful book it is and how much it meant to me. I'm not sure I succeeded. But it is a brave book, wonderfully written, about family tragedy, about loss and grief. It's also very much about carrying on in the face of these things, about a family coming closer together, about sacrifices and major life changes made, all in the hopes of filling sudden empty places in a young family's life. Roger Rosenblatt is a writer who has mastered his craft, but he is also a still angry and grieving father and grandfather. MAKING TOAST is his testament to a life cut short - his daughter's - and a record of how he, his wife and his sons stepped in to help with the raising of his young grandchildren. This is a ten-star read that you will not soon forget.read more
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Thank goodness that's over. There's no story here. Just daily details about a family.read more
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The worst pain a person can feel is the death of a child. Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt's 38-year-old daughter Amy, a doctor and mother of three young children, died on her home treadmill of an asymptomatic heart condition.Roger and Ginny left their home on Long Island and moved to Bethesda, Maryland to live and care for son-in-law Harris, and their three grandchildren: six-year-old Jessie, four-year-old Sammy and eighteen-month-old James, called Bubbies.Rosenblatt's memoir paints a portrait of the beautiful daughter they lost. He describes her as "a very clear person, even as a small child, knowing intuitively what plain good sense a particular situation required. " She was "both self-confident and selfless, (and) when she faced you there could be no doubt you were the only thing on her mind."While her clarity sometimes caused her to be brusque with her brothers Carl and John, it also "contributed to her kindness". Rosenblatt tells of a time when Amy was six-years-old, and a friend got carsick in the backseat of his car. The other two friends in the car moved away from the sick girl, but Amy moved closer to comfort her sick friend.Roger and Ginny were thrown back into a world of caring for young children. Roger is in awe of his wife, who jumps right in and with boundless energy helps with homework, makes school lunches, comforts a crying baby, and attends soccer games with the moms and dads of her grandkids' friends. He writes of her selflessness, and in what I think is the saddest sentence in the book, Ginny states, "I am leading Amy's life", she says in despair, yet comfort too." It breaks her heart when she eats dinner alone with her son-in-law, knowing that it should be his wife, her daughter, there listening to him talk about his day. Roger bonds with a man he hires to turn his garage into a playroom for the grandkids when the man's college-aged son dies. Men generally don't share deep feelings with other men, and this relationship is moving. He also hears from so many other people who have suffered a similar loss, and it surprises him how many people there are in the same situation.After a year passes, Roger and Ginny wonder if their son-in-law still wants them to stay. There is no question that they are where they need and want to be, and they sincerely wish for their son-in-law to someday find a new woman, knowing that he "will choose well".Making Toast puts me in mind of Calvin Trillin's memoir about his wife, About Alice. Both books are slim, yet Rosenblatt, like Trillin, paints a full portrait of a special person he loves with carefully chosen words. It's about coping with unexpected loss, raging against the unfairness of it, while at the same time carrying on the day-to-day living that must continue. Roger and Ginny's tribute to their daughter's legacy is to step into her life and care for her family. Their story will touch (and sometimes break) your heart.Thanks to Kayleigh from Harper Collins for providing me with a copy for reviewread more
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The Short of It:Making Toast, although touching at times, lacks the emotional punch that you’d expect from a memoir.The Rest of It:As a reader, we are given brief snippets of information about the family. What the children like for breakfast, what they like to wear…their favorite color, you get the idea. This information is given to us in a very friendly, casual way. My problem with this is that it was so casual in the telling that I didn’t feel as if the author was really letting me into his life.I’ll explain. This was obviously a very painful loss for the entire family, but I didn’t really feel that the author wanted me to know how truly painful it was. I felt as if he was sharing this information with me but with filters in place. As if he didn’t want me to know how he truly felt. There are moments where he mentions his anger but I never felt his anger coming off the page.Also, it would have helped to know a bit more about Amy, his daughter. He touches on memories of her childhood, and a bit about her work but it wasn’t enough for me to really get a feel for her, and I really did want to get a feel for her as a person.The significance of the title is very touching. Rosenblatt finds comfort in making toast for his grandchildren. Such a simple act. One child likes it buttered, another likes it with cinnamon, etc. I was moved when I read this part because Rosenblatt went into why it was special for him.Rosenblatt’s story covers a year. Perhaps it would have been better to focus on the first six months as I’m sure there was a lot of adjustment taking place during that time. I would’ve liked to have heard more about Amy’s relationship with her dad. The bond between a father and a daughter is usually quite strong.Overall, it’s a touching story but I never really got to know anyone within it, so it sort of left me with an “unfinished” feeling. I can only imagine how horrible it would be to lose your daughter so suddenly.The back of the book states that Making Toast was originally an essay that was published in The New Yorker back in 2008. I may look for that essay to see how it differs from the book.Source: This ARC was sent to me by HarperCollins/Ecco.read more
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A moving, forthright account of a family dealing with the sudden death of their daughter, wife, mother. How we respond, how we go on living, and loving, in a tender, real story. Rosenblatt has chronicled how his life changed with the death of his daughter, a young and vibrant wife, mother and doctor, and he and his own wife stepped in to provide -- and receive -- some stability during a painful time.read more
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It was a very sad thing that happened to this family. But in reading the book it felt like I was just listening to a stream of consciousness. There seemed to be little continuity from one section to the next. Also the name dropping got old.read more
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I think his fans like this out of sympathy...very boring & elitist.read more
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Roger Rosenblatt lost his daughter Amy and a very early age. She left behind a husband and three children. The youngest only a year old. Roger and his wife pulled up stakes and moved in with their son-in-law to help him with the children. together they all work together to get through this tough time. This memoir rang vvery true for me. Roger talks openly and honestly about dealing with grief and how it affects all involved. Simple things such as realizing they were having an off day and took it out on one of the young kids who was a little rambunctious was just one example. He went on to show that all was forgiven because of the love that was being fostered. His grandkids always knew that they were loved. He showed that no matter what your job or station in life we all feel and think and react the same when faced with death. I am sure this was written as a tool in his healing process, yet has the ability to help others heal. A very open and honest book, one I will gladly pass on to friends.read more
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Tiny little gem of a book that packs an emotional punch. My only complaint was the name dropping by the author of all the folks that helped or sent condolences after the death of his daughter. I get it, you are "somebody" who knows a lot of other "somebodies." Get over yourself.read more
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Disappointing. More a journal of grieving a daughter than a constructed memoir. I found Rosenblatt's reflections emotionally shallow and wasn't at all sure why he expected me to read on.read more
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This is about a family grieving and a family growing. They lost a young and vital member, Amy, who was a doctor, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a very good friend. There was no preparing for this death--she dropped dead on the basement treadmill from an extremely rare heart defect. This book is made up of little moments in time, much like journal entries, as they family pulled together in the initial shock, then as Roger and his wife Ginny move in to help their son-in-law take care of the kids. It's about everyday things like making toast, and things we don't ever want to have to face, like taking our grandkids to the cemetery to put flowers on their mother's grave. It's how a family grew together when pain was tearing each of them apart. It is profound in its quiet emotion and dignity and very, very much worth the reading.read more
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Roger Rosenblatt’s 38 year old daughter Amy – a pediatrician, wife and mother of three very young children – had a heart defect which went undiagnosed until it took her life, suddenly and unexpectedly, just weeks before Christmas in 2007. Rosenblatt and his wife Ginny responded in the only way they knew how – they packed up their things and rushed to Maryland to help their son-in-law Harris raise their grandchildren. Making Toast is Rosenblatt’s memoir of the weeks and months following Amy’s death as the family struggles to make sense of their loss while moving steadily through the daily events of a life which continues without her.Written in a series of vignettes rather than a straight forward narration, the book is non-linear in nature. At first, I didn’t like this scattershot approach which seemed to keep emotion slightly distant. It felt disconnected to me. But, as I continued to read, the style began to make sense. For what is grief but memories of the brief slices of a life lived? What is recovery if not the simple act of getting up each day and sharing another person’s life? How do we see hope for the future except through the eyes of our children or grandchildren? For Rosenblatt, who clung to his anger against God and the fact that his only daughter had died from something which affects ‘less than two thousandths of one percent of the population,’ his one consolation was that he was doing what Amy would have him do – caring for her family.Making Toast is heartbreaking, and yet its sadness is fleeting. I found myself laughing at the simple, every day moments which Rosenblatt shares. I found myself marveling at the depth of love that he and his wife had for not only their grandchildren, but Amy’s husband Harris. The human spirit is nothing but resilient in the face of tragedy – and yet it is still amazing to see it in practice.Rosenblatt shares his grief without telling us outright that he is grieving. Time after time he declines to listen to Amy’s voice on a telephone answering machine, so when her recorded words show up in the narration toward the end of the book, we feel Rosenblatt’s pain. This is Rosenblatt’s style – to show us moments which transcend words.Making Toast is about patience, love, faith (and the lack of it), grief, and the slow, torturous process of recovery. But perhaps it is mostly about what it means to be a family. Rosenblatt’s simple prose and his matter-of-fact presentation is surprisingly moving in the context of the story. It is a beautiful tribute to a daughter.Highly recommended.read more
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Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt is dedicated to his daughter Amy. When Amy suddenly dies, she leaves a busy medical practice, a loving husband, three small children, friends, siblings and parents. Her sudden death illustrates for us all the fragility of life and is written as a joyful reminder of what love can accomplish.I really enjoyed reading about the interaction between the children and their grandparents. There was a lot of sadness, but it was often interspersed with humor that only children can guarantee. So…that being said, how terrible of a person am I that I didn’t much like the book? Yep…I’m a terrible person. I sympathized with the family, I felt a lot of empathy for the pain and difficult situation they found themselves in, and yet I found the book really awkward to read. It seemed to contain too many names, and occasionally I would have to go back to figure out who was being mentioned. I thought the way it was written, while mostly chronological, did go back and forth a bit too much and I was confused by the timelines. And to me, it read much more like a personal journal of a grieving father. I felt like I was eavesdropping on aspects of a family that were frankly none of my business. But if it was going to be published as a memoir, I thought it could use some more editing.Okay…that took me a good three weeks to get the nerve to write. (Talk about kicking someone when they’re down…I’d probably be out beating up second graders for their lunch money soon…..)read more
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spare, contained, moving and beautiful memoir of a grandfather who, together with the grandmother, move in with their son-in-law and 3 young children after their mother dies suddenly.read more
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Roger Rosenblatt's daughter Amy, a wife and mother of three small children died one day while on her treadmill from some type of oddity in her heart that is not supposed to kill you. Roger and his wife move from their home on Long Island to live with their son in law and help take care of the children. It covers the first 18 months as well at looking back at Amy's life growing up with her two brothers. Although I tired a little of the perfectness of all the people mentioned (no one was ever just a little bit selfish?), it was a loving tribute to his daughter - I hope everyone in the family is doing well 3 years later.
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I loved the excerpt I read in a magazine, and was excited to discover Rosenblatt's book in my library. I've always loved his writing, but the whole book was a disappointment. It's a very poignant story - Rosenblatt and his wife moving in with their son in law after his wife, their daughter, dies, to help care for the grandchildren. And I feel bad commenting on the writing, when what they did was so magnificent, but it fell flat for me. I think something like this is too hard to write about until it's long in the past, if ever.
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A beautifully crafted memoir of grief and its impact on the author's family.
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I’m so glad I didn’t read this story any sooner (since my dad died in Feb 2010) I’m not sure that I could have taken it. It’s amazing what can happen when a parent dies for the kids or a child dies before their parents. This is a story about both. Amazingly Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt live close enough to help their son-in-law Harris and their 3 grandchildren after the sudden death of their daughter, wife, mother.

It’s amazing what love can do to help you overcome anything. Grandparents become surrogate parents, aunts and uncles become new friends to help the children adapt. The most lucky thing is the children are young so that it might be easier to adjust.

Family seems to be the story of the day as they all deal with Amy’s death differently. Mom Ginny tries to help out and take her place whenever possible. Dad Roger struggles to find his place in the process. Husband Harris struggles in his own way. In the end they all do come through, but with many trials and tribulations along the way.
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This book was sad but not depressingly sad. When their daughter Amy dies unexpectedly, Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt move in with their son in law to help raise their three grandchildren, Jessica, Sammy and James (aka Bubbies). You can tell it is both painful and comforting at the same time for them to take over Amy's role as parent. There are many touching moments in this book such as when Sammy lies on the floor in the same position they found his mother in. I think the grandchildren really help Roger and Ginny through the grief of losing their daughter. Roger tells little tales of Amy's life, intertwined with stories of dealing with grief and stories of their new daily life with their grandchildren. This book tells the story of how one can be very grief-stricken but still continue on. I found myself both feeling their pain and laughing at the antics of the children. It is a very honest memoir. Probably one of the most honest I have ever read. This was a quick read and I found it very touching and beautifully done.
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This is a spare, even elegant memoir about the aftermath of tragedy. The author's daughter, Amy, died on her treadmill from a rare congenital heart problem leaving behind her grieving children. Mr. Rosenblatt and his wife immediately moved in with their son-in-law and the three children and started the process of figuring out life after Amy.All death has its own flavor, its own level of tragedy - the sudden death of a loved one is hard because there is no preparation - there is simply before and after. In an instant you cross the line between what was and what is now and I'm not sure you ever fully recover. Perhaps the hardest part is the grieving you do for the person you might've been - its maddening, angering, terrifying, and difficult.Mr. Rosenblatt writes well of this and there are moments in this book when I wiped away tears. This could have been either so painful it couldn't be borne or so trite and cliched it couldn't be read, but it is neither. It is sharp, clear and focused with loving portraits of a family, particularly the three children.I have some discomfort with this book, some choices that lessened its impact for me. The author tends to name drop famous people who are bereft by the loss of his daughter and, while I understand that these are family friends, it also feels out of place in the larger context of memoir. I was also troubled by the basic non-portrayal of their Fillipino nanny, who extended her hours to help the family and who reminds them of how many more resources they have than most. It strikes me odd that her presence is peripheral and unimportant, although the author notes how much the children love her.Lastly, I heard an interview with the author on NPR where the interviewer basically fawned over him and his book, yet neither he nor the interviewer acknowledged his long history with PBS. I was very uncomfortable with that once I read the book and it heightened some of the problems in the book that prevent its beautiful writing from soaring to its potential height.
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Roger Rosenblatt has written a love story to his daughter, his wife, his grandchildren, is in-laws, and his friends. Snippets of a life, without its light, make for a beautiful story of love and loss.When their daughter Amy dies suddenly, leaving her children and her stoic husband, Roger and his wife Ginny move in to help. Roger feels his only job is to make toast. A skillful writer, he makes the everyday magical as they navigate a new reality, one without Amy. Accepting the unacceptable is their new life.I really liked this book, and the people in it. I want to know how it all turns out. I wish them only the best!I read this on my e-reader while traveling and recovering, and I got it from the library. I love this thing!
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An unexpected and tragic death, a family grieving, the everyday life that goes on after disaster strikes - "Making Toast" has the potential to help those who face similar heartache; tragically, the author has no relationship with a loving God who weeps with the brokenhearted, which might have made his move through grieving easier, or less life-long, but his real honest raw emotions are muted and understated - poignant even.
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Roger Rosenblatt writes a tender, touching memoir chronicling his family’s life after the sudden death of his daughter. He and his wife move in with their son-in-law to help with their three young grandchildren and tells their story in a series of thoughtful, sometimes abrupt, sometimes heartbreaking vignettes. It’s a loving tribute to his daughter. Highly recommended.I had read the original essay which was published in The New Yorker a couple of years ago. This book expands on that story. HarperCollins/Ecco kindly provided the ARC.
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Very touching -- it would be a perfect little memoir of love, loss, and family if it weren't for the name dropping.
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Roger Rosenblatt’s Making Toast is a memoir by a man whose adult daughter, Amy, dies suddenly, prompting him and his wife to move in with their son-in-law to help raise their three small children. It is written in a series of simple, understated vignettes, which give snapshots of Rosenblatt’s memories of his daughter and his observations of his children and grandchildren in the wake of Amy’s death. Rather than a lament of grief, this memoir is more an affirmation of the life that continues on despite tragedy.If I have any complaints about this book (besides the frequent name dropping, which is unnecessary and detracts from the story), it is the fact that all of the characters, family members and friends alike, are just too good. If there are really such selfless people in the world, people who don’t have just a little bit of jealousy, resentment, or just plain waking up in a bad mood, I haven’t met them. The casual wealth of the family is another aspect of the book that is difficult for me to relate to. Yet, overall, the vignettes flow naturally, and the gentle observations of the children ring true.“One evening, Sammy rushes into the room naked from head to toe. ‘Boppo!’ he says, having just seen 101 Dalmations. ‘The dalmation puppies were saved!’ I ask, ‘Sammy, where are your clothes?’ He says, ‘The puppies were going to be skinned for coats!’ He glances at Amy’s picture. ‘I miss Mommy,’ he says. ‘Me, too,’ I say.”I enjoyed reading this memoir.
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What happens when a world renowned author loses a daughter? Usually only friends and family will hear about it. But, for Roger Rosenblatt that wasn't what he needed. He needed to try and work through the first year plus a few months by writing about his feelings and the changes in his life that occurred when middle-child, and only daughter, died from an undiagnosed heart defect. Amy was a married doctor, mother of three and loved by anyone who met her. When she died with her oldest child being only six Roger and his wife Ginny moved in with their son-in-law and the three children to try and fill a hole that broke apart the families world.

I managed to read the whole book in one day, which isn't that remarkable since it was originally written as an essay, but I also managed to read it without tears. Those came as I finished the book and realized that those three children and their father, aunts, uncles, and both sets of grandparents still struggle daily to understand what happened and to try and move forward.

The book isn't written as a history or as a biography but as a stream of remembrances. How Amy was at six, then as a teen, the as a toddler, then as a college student. The memories are triggered often by her children. They will say or do something that reminds Roger of something Amy did that was similar or how she handled it with the oldest but that the youngest will never know.

The children play a central part in the story, from trying to help them cope with the loss of a mother to learning their day to day habits and trying to help a father who feels lost without his mate. But it is also a story about how two grandparents learn to cope with the loss of a daughter and the sudden responsibility of caring for three small children (not alone but they do take on a whole new lifestyle).

A touching, heartbreaking story and one that I'm very glad I took the time to read.

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Rosenblatt writes on a very personal level about the sudden death of his adult daughter and the aftermath. He and his wife join his son-in-law's household to help raise the three young children. Interspersed with the children's reactions and daily interactions are memories of his daughter's youth and their family.
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I can probably guess what some of you are thinking: Are you kidding me? Not another tragi-memoir. Never fear, fellow readers. Rosenblatt does not stoop to histrionics here. This memoir is wonderful. I am not a fan of overly sentimental writing, especially in the memoir genre which can sometimes be whiny and self-aggrandizing. Making Toast is a refreshing read. Rosenblatt's prose is simple and not affected at all. As a result, the spare writing makes the book all the more stunning.By the end of this slim narrative I felt as if I had also moved in with Rosenblatt's newly widowed son-in-law, Harris, and their three children- Jessica, Sammy, and James. Rosenblatt is tender in his writing, and although I initially felt his style to be too choppy, I soon fell into the rhythm of his writing and finished the book in one sitting. I was sad when it was over; I wanted to know more about their lives. Highly recommended.
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Life is short and none of us knows if we will even have tomorrow let alone next year. That was certainly true for Amy Rosenblatt Solomon, pediatrician, wife, mother of three young children. Her unexpected death made it impossible for her husband Harris to continue his career as a hand surgeon and father to their three children. Consequently, he enlisted the help of Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt, Amy's parents and his in-laws. They moved into the Solomon home in Bethesda,MD, and picked up the slack. Known as Boppo, Roger Rosenblatt, the granddad and nationally known author, became adept at 'making toast' for breakfast in whatever style each child wanted. His wife, Ginny, a former kindergarten teacher, took on her daughter's role as caretaker for the children, homework helper, cook, etc. Between the two of them, Roger and Ginny helped the family to get through the first year without Amy. In turn, the children and Harris helped them work through their grief. The book is such a heartbreaker in parts, but is also such a wonderful picture of how a family can come together and heal. Rosenblatt is very honest about his feelings. The book was so good that I was sorry when I got to the last page.
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Although profoundly sad, as would any book about the loss of a child, there is hope and recovery in this memoir as well. Roger Rosenblatt, writer and producer, has captured a range of emotions in his story of the sudden and unexpected death of his 38 yr old daughter, Amy.I lost my only son, and I know I felt like the friend of his that he describes in the book that was more than just a little angry at God. I still feel like him sometimes.However, as much as this book is about loss, it is also about how life must go on for those left behind and what that looks like on a daily basis. He views how each of the family members handles their loss differently and how each tries to pick up parts of Amy for the sake of each other and her three small children. It is comforting to read through the daily routines, the kind gestures, the periods of profound sadness, and come away with the sense that time will lessen the grief even if it does not make it go away.Grandparenting takes on a whole new dimension for Roger and his wife, Ginny, or maybe I should just say parenting because they really step up to the plate for their son in law and move in to take care of Amy’s three very young children. It becomes a family affair to envelop, love, shelter, and nurture Jessie, Sammy and Bubbies. Thank you Roger, for sharing such a personal and deeply sad part of your life and helping all of your readers realize that those of us who are left have to get up every day and make the toast or anything else that will help us move on. It is an affirmation that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.
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I have already written a letter to the author of MAKING TOAST, attempting to tell him what a beautiful book it is and how much it meant to me. I'm not sure I succeeded. But it is a brave book, wonderfully written, about family tragedy, about loss and grief. It's also very much about carrying on in the face of these things, about a family coming closer together, about sacrifices and major life changes made, all in the hopes of filling sudden empty places in a young family's life. Roger Rosenblatt is a writer who has mastered his craft, but he is also a still angry and grieving father and grandfather. MAKING TOAST is his testament to a life cut short - his daughter's - and a record of how he, his wife and his sons stepped in to help with the raising of his young grandchildren. This is a ten-star read that you will not soon forget.
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Thank goodness that's over. There's no story here. Just daily details about a family.
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The worst pain a person can feel is the death of a child. Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt's 38-year-old daughter Amy, a doctor and mother of three young children, died on her home treadmill of an asymptomatic heart condition.Roger and Ginny left their home on Long Island and moved to Bethesda, Maryland to live and care for son-in-law Harris, and their three grandchildren: six-year-old Jessie, four-year-old Sammy and eighteen-month-old James, called Bubbies.Rosenblatt's memoir paints a portrait of the beautiful daughter they lost. He describes her as "a very clear person, even as a small child, knowing intuitively what plain good sense a particular situation required. " She was "both self-confident and selfless, (and) when she faced you there could be no doubt you were the only thing on her mind."While her clarity sometimes caused her to be brusque with her brothers Carl and John, it also "contributed to her kindness". Rosenblatt tells of a time when Amy was six-years-old, and a friend got carsick in the backseat of his car. The other two friends in the car moved away from the sick girl, but Amy moved closer to comfort her sick friend.Roger and Ginny were thrown back into a world of caring for young children. Roger is in awe of his wife, who jumps right in and with boundless energy helps with homework, makes school lunches, comforts a crying baby, and attends soccer games with the moms and dads of her grandkids' friends. He writes of her selflessness, and in what I think is the saddest sentence in the book, Ginny states, "I am leading Amy's life", she says in despair, yet comfort too." It breaks her heart when she eats dinner alone with her son-in-law, knowing that it should be his wife, her daughter, there listening to him talk about his day. Roger bonds with a man he hires to turn his garage into a playroom for the grandkids when the man's college-aged son dies. Men generally don't share deep feelings with other men, and this relationship is moving. He also hears from so many other people who have suffered a similar loss, and it surprises him how many people there are in the same situation.After a year passes, Roger and Ginny wonder if their son-in-law still wants them to stay. There is no question that they are where they need and want to be, and they sincerely wish for their son-in-law to someday find a new woman, knowing that he "will choose well".Making Toast puts me in mind of Calvin Trillin's memoir about his wife, About Alice. Both books are slim, yet Rosenblatt, like Trillin, paints a full portrait of a special person he loves with carefully chosen words. It's about coping with unexpected loss, raging against the unfairness of it, while at the same time carrying on the day-to-day living that must continue. Roger and Ginny's tribute to their daughter's legacy is to step into her life and care for her family. Their story will touch (and sometimes break) your heart.Thanks to Kayleigh from Harper Collins for providing me with a copy for review
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The Short of It:Making Toast, although touching at times, lacks the emotional punch that you’d expect from a memoir.The Rest of It:As a reader, we are given brief snippets of information about the family. What the children like for breakfast, what they like to wear…their favorite color, you get the idea. This information is given to us in a very friendly, casual way. My problem with this is that it was so casual in the telling that I didn’t feel as if the author was really letting me into his life.I’ll explain. This was obviously a very painful loss for the entire family, but I didn’t really feel that the author wanted me to know how truly painful it was. I felt as if he was sharing this information with me but with filters in place. As if he didn’t want me to know how he truly felt. There are moments where he mentions his anger but I never felt his anger coming off the page.Also, it would have helped to know a bit more about Amy, his daughter. He touches on memories of her childhood, and a bit about her work but it wasn’t enough for me to really get a feel for her, and I really did want to get a feel for her as a person.The significance of the title is very touching. Rosenblatt finds comfort in making toast for his grandchildren. Such a simple act. One child likes it buttered, another likes it with cinnamon, etc. I was moved when I read this part because Rosenblatt went into why it was special for him.Rosenblatt’s story covers a year. Perhaps it would have been better to focus on the first six months as I’m sure there was a lot of adjustment taking place during that time. I would’ve liked to have heard more about Amy’s relationship with her dad. The bond between a father and a daughter is usually quite strong.Overall, it’s a touching story but I never really got to know anyone within it, so it sort of left me with an “unfinished” feeling. I can only imagine how horrible it would be to lose your daughter so suddenly.The back of the book states that Making Toast was originally an essay that was published in The New Yorker back in 2008. I may look for that essay to see how it differs from the book.Source: This ARC was sent to me by HarperCollins/Ecco.
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A moving, forthright account of a family dealing with the sudden death of their daughter, wife, mother. How we respond, how we go on living, and loving, in a tender, real story. Rosenblatt has chronicled how his life changed with the death of his daughter, a young and vibrant wife, mother and doctor, and he and his own wife stepped in to provide -- and receive -- some stability during a painful time.
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It was a very sad thing that happened to this family. But in reading the book it felt like I was just listening to a stream of consciousness. There seemed to be little continuity from one section to the next. Also the name dropping got old.
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I think his fans like this out of sympathy...very boring & elitist.
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Roger Rosenblatt lost his daughter Amy and a very early age. She left behind a husband and three children. The youngest only a year old. Roger and his wife pulled up stakes and moved in with their son-in-law to help him with the children. together they all work together to get through this tough time. This memoir rang vvery true for me. Roger talks openly and honestly about dealing with grief and how it affects all involved. Simple things such as realizing they were having an off day and took it out on one of the young kids who was a little rambunctious was just one example. He went on to show that all was forgiven because of the love that was being fostered. His grandkids always knew that they were loved. He showed that no matter what your job or station in life we all feel and think and react the same when faced with death. I am sure this was written as a tool in his healing process, yet has the ability to help others heal. A very open and honest book, one I will gladly pass on to friends.
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Tiny little gem of a book that packs an emotional punch. My only complaint was the name dropping by the author of all the folks that helped or sent condolences after the death of his daughter. I get it, you are "somebody" who knows a lot of other "somebodies." Get over yourself.
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Disappointing. More a journal of grieving a daughter than a constructed memoir. I found Rosenblatt's reflections emotionally shallow and wasn't at all sure why he expected me to read on.
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This is about a family grieving and a family growing. They lost a young and vital member, Amy, who was a doctor, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a very good friend. There was no preparing for this death--she dropped dead on the basement treadmill from an extremely rare heart defect. This book is made up of little moments in time, much like journal entries, as they family pulled together in the initial shock, then as Roger and his wife Ginny move in to help their son-in-law take care of the kids. It's about everyday things like making toast, and things we don't ever want to have to face, like taking our grandkids to the cemetery to put flowers on their mother's grave. It's how a family grew together when pain was tearing each of them apart. It is profound in its quiet emotion and dignity and very, very much worth the reading.
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Roger Rosenblatt’s 38 year old daughter Amy – a pediatrician, wife and mother of three very young children – had a heart defect which went undiagnosed until it took her life, suddenly and unexpectedly, just weeks before Christmas in 2007. Rosenblatt and his wife Ginny responded in the only way they knew how – they packed up their things and rushed to Maryland to help their son-in-law Harris raise their grandchildren. Making Toast is Rosenblatt’s memoir of the weeks and months following Amy’s death as the family struggles to make sense of their loss while moving steadily through the daily events of a life which continues without her.Written in a series of vignettes rather than a straight forward narration, the book is non-linear in nature. At first, I didn’t like this scattershot approach which seemed to keep emotion slightly distant. It felt disconnected to me. But, as I continued to read, the style began to make sense. For what is grief but memories of the brief slices of a life lived? What is recovery if not the simple act of getting up each day and sharing another person’s life? How do we see hope for the future except through the eyes of our children or grandchildren? For Rosenblatt, who clung to his anger against God and the fact that his only daughter had died from something which affects ‘less than two thousandths of one percent of the population,’ his one consolation was that he was doing what Amy would have him do – caring for her family.Making Toast is heartbreaking, and yet its sadness is fleeting. I found myself laughing at the simple, every day moments which Rosenblatt shares. I found myself marveling at the depth of love that he and his wife had for not only their grandchildren, but Amy’s husband Harris. The human spirit is nothing but resilient in the face of tragedy – and yet it is still amazing to see it in practice.Rosenblatt shares his grief without telling us outright that he is grieving. Time after time he declines to listen to Amy’s voice on a telephone answering machine, so when her recorded words show up in the narration toward the end of the book, we feel Rosenblatt’s pain. This is Rosenblatt’s style – to show us moments which transcend words.Making Toast is about patience, love, faith (and the lack of it), grief, and the slow, torturous process of recovery. But perhaps it is mostly about what it means to be a family. Rosenblatt’s simple prose and his matter-of-fact presentation is surprisingly moving in the context of the story. It is a beautiful tribute to a daughter.Highly recommended.
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Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt is dedicated to his daughter Amy. When Amy suddenly dies, she leaves a busy medical practice, a loving husband, three small children, friends, siblings and parents. Her sudden death illustrates for us all the fragility of life and is written as a joyful reminder of what love can accomplish.I really enjoyed reading about the interaction between the children and their grandparents. There was a lot of sadness, but it was often interspersed with humor that only children can guarantee. So…that being said, how terrible of a person am I that I didn’t much like the book? Yep…I’m a terrible person. I sympathized with the family, I felt a lot of empathy for the pain and difficult situation they found themselves in, and yet I found the book really awkward to read. It seemed to contain too many names, and occasionally I would have to go back to figure out who was being mentioned. I thought the way it was written, while mostly chronological, did go back and forth a bit too much and I was confused by the timelines. And to me, it read much more like a personal journal of a grieving father. I felt like I was eavesdropping on aspects of a family that were frankly none of my business. But if it was going to be published as a memoir, I thought it could use some more editing.Okay…that took me a good three weeks to get the nerve to write. (Talk about kicking someone when they’re down…I’d probably be out beating up second graders for their lunch money soon…..)
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spare, contained, moving and beautiful memoir of a grandfather who, together with the grandmother, move in with their son-in-law and 3 young children after their mother dies suddenly.
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