I don’t want to generalize things, but we’ve all seen the headlines about someone’s world being shattered in an instant. We’ve all seen, heard about or experienced some after-effects of terrorism at this point. We hear about the people who commit these acts, we hear about those that die and those that survive, but what we rarely hear about are those that are left.
It’s those people whose world isn’t shattered in an instant, but over a grueling length of hours where they know nothing about their loved one’s fate, that this book’s story shares with the world.
I don’t go out of my way to read books associated with grief or with current political issues, but when the publisher reached out to me about a copy* of this book I thought I would give it a chance. The title is what drew me to it, the fact that Leiris, was not going to allow the attackers to have his hate, that he was going to raise his now-motherless little boy without that hate that spoke to me.
I’ve been trying to find happiness and kindness in life more and more recently (wait until you see the rest of the responses to books coming at you in the near future :-D) and this book gave me hope for the world. And even though that is the focus of the work, it is the simplicity of Leiris’ writing and the beauty of his outlook that made me tear up on multiple occasions throughout the book.
There were times reading the book that I couldn’t help but tear up, especially thinking about Leiris’ son growing up without his mom. But there were also times when I laughed out loud because Leiris said something hilarious (like throwing away all the food the other mom’s at the daycare sent home for him and his son). There was such a touch of honesty and lightheartedness that kept the heaviness of the book from being too overwhelming.
This is one of those books that I have to talk about the translator. I don’t believe I’ve read anything translated by Sam Taylor before, but the ease with which this reads in English can only be a result of how well it was written and how beautiful it must be in French.
Recommendation: This is one of the most moving works I’ve read this year. The pain and the grief are still fresh, but the writing provides a beautiful translation to be shared around the world. I would highly recommend this to anyone.
*The publisher sent me a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion, no money or goods were exchanged.
Opening Line: “November 13, 17:30 p.m. – Mellvil fell asleep without a murmer, as he usually does when his Mama isn’t there.”
Closing Line: “On our way out, I see the puddle. I hop into it. He laughs.” (Not whited out as this is a work of nonfiction.)