I know it’s not really the end of summer, that there are, in fact, another three+ weeks until the official beginning of fall, but I’m going back to work tomorrow after summer break, so it feels like the end to me. I also have a heaping bowl of fresh local fruit for breakfast, and am reminded that it's nearly the end of the season for peaches and strawberries... but apple and butternut squash season is just beginning! I have been furiously reading children’s books for my committee all summer, but we’ve made our final selections last week and I’m thrilled to be able to read adult books again! I’ve finished two novels and am working on a third right now, but I have lots to do on my last day off, so this will be a quick post.
Both novels deal with the grieving process, but they couldn’t be more different. The first book I read was Ghost Forest by Canadian author Pik-Shuen Fung. In this brief, haunting debut, the main character is the oldest daughter in a family that was moved from Hong Kong to Vancouver in 1997, just before the transfer of sovereignty. Her father was one of many “astronaut” fathers, men who remain working in Hong Kong but fly back and forth to visit their families. The main character lives with her mother, grandparents and younger sister, and when she reaches adulthood, she faces the loss of the father who was both there and not there during her life, a stoic man with whom she has a complex and difficult relationship. Poetically written in brief chapters, we follow her life from her move to Vancouver to the death of her father and beyond. It was a wonderful, moving story that was both easy and difficult to read, imbued with sadness as well as hope.
The next book I read was Notes on your Sudden Disappearance by Alisone Espach, which conformed more closely to what my ideas of a “traditional” book dealing with grief would be like. Growing up in a typical American suburban family, thirteen-year-old Sally and sixteen-year-old Kathy are as close as sisters can be. They are both obsessed with Billy Barnes, a boy one year older than Kathy who eventually becomes her boyfriend, leaving Sally to nurture her obsession in secret. When Kathy dies in a car crash, Sally and Billy form a bond that evolves over time, and we see the affects of her death on all of the family members, as well as Billy, as they try to process their loss. This book was interesting and well-written, and the author has some wonderful descriptions, insights and turns of phrases, but I found it somewhat overlong and ultimately disappointing. While I was glad to reach the last page, it was still worth reading.
That’s all for today. Get outside and enjoy the sunny day!