Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

Trigger warning: miscarriage and death of a child.

One thing that I have observed in my counselling work is that the grief associated with the death of a child is unfathomable, and that it changes families (for generations) in a way that is also unfathomable.

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ is a deeply tragic story, which examines the yearning and grief experienced by Yejide and her husband, Akin.

I was not strong enough to love when I could lose again, so I held her loosely, with little hope, sure that somehow she too would manage to slip from my grasp. Continue reading

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I accept that some bloggers, whose reading tastes lean toward the more literary end of things, will unfollow me for what I’m about to say…

…but when I watched six seasons of The Hills (yes, that ‘reality’ show with LC and Heidi and Spencer), I was engrossed in the detail – the parties, the holidays, the break-ups and make-ups, Justin Bobby, the workplace dramas. It was all very ‘up close’. And then the last episode happened – had the producers been playing the audience the whole time?! Continue reading

The Yield by Tara June Winch

Where to start with this big story, plump with important themes, lush language, and rich history? No review that I will do of Tara June Winch’s novel, The Yield, will capture all the elements of this book, so instead I will focus on the two parts that drew me in – the experience of grief, and the meaning of words. Continue reading

Reading Roulette

Cathy at 746 Books posted a Reading Roulette yesterday, noting that it had been four years since her last roulette post… And I thought that it had also been some time since readers had picked my next read. I checked. Also four years!

I’ve picked six books from the big stack next to my bed – what should I read next? Continue reading

Heimat – A German Family Album by Nora Krug

In the mid-eighties, I was an exchange student in Germany. I was hosted in a small town in the south, and Heidelberg was the closest large town. My days at school were routinely interrupted by US airforce planes flying overhead and breaking the sound barrier – teachers and students were so used to this happening that conversation paused and resumed automatically. Likewise, no one seemed to notice US tanks rolling through the streets. It was 1987 and there were daily reminders of the Holocaust; what this nation had done wrong; and who was ‘in charge’ now. That’s what it felt like to me, anyway, and I was fascinated by how the past was felt in the present.

My trip in 1987 remains one of the most significant experiences I have had. Seeing the imbedded sense of guilt and shame carried by people born long after the war had an enormous impact. At the time, I couldn’t name what I was seeing, but we now know it as intergenerational trauma (and in no way do I mean to minimise, or compare it to, the trauma experienced by those persecuted during the Holocaust).

In her graphic memoir, Heimat, Nora Krug traces her family history, in an effort to uncover their wartime past in Nazi Germany, and to understand how her German history has shaped her life.

Continue reading