by Margo Rabb
First sentence: “The funeral director’s name was Manny Musico.”
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Mia’s world has imploded. Her mother went in to the doctor about a stomach ache, and twelve days later died. It’s not something she could plan for: one day her mother was there, the glue holding their family together in spite of constant fighting with Mia’s dad; the next day, they’re planning a funeral. How are they — Mia, especially, since she doesn’t quite know how to relate to her older sister, Alex, or their father — going to manage their life?
And, yet, as the book unfolds over a year, they do manage. Sure, Mia goes into a bit of a tailspin at school, barely passing her freshman year. Alex goes off to college, and then Mia’s left alone with her father. But, partially just because things work out as time passes, Mia gets better. Or at least, she learns to live her life again, without her mother.
Startlingly honest, this book walks the line between all-encompassing grief and the realization that as time goes on, wounds heal. The title really does say it all: Mia’s heart is broken by the death of her mother, and while it’ll never fully, completely heal, she is able to find a way to move on beyond that grief. That this is a semi-autobiographical story helps; Rabb taps into the emotions of loss, pain, and grief without being sappy or overly sentimental about it all.
In all the many books on death, this one stands out because of that honesty, because of the humor laced throughout the book, and because Rabb shows how one can move on without forgetting.