Tragedy touches us all. The Rules of Inheritance (a memoir) by Claire Bidwell Smith is about one woman’s journey coping with the loss in her life.
We, like pretty much every generation before us, live in a time of tragedy with events like 911, the Columbine shooting, the Virginia Tech shooting, and war. The tragedies are of course different, but every generation has something that haunts it’s collective memories and some of those effect us as individuals more than others.
For me, tears well up in my eyes with many memories. First, the unthinkable loss of a friend in high school. Then there’s 911 because of how close to home that hit. I was a Jersey girl, far away from home for the first time as a freshman at Virginia Tech. Thoughts of the Virginia Tech shooting make my heart ache for the amazing student from my hometown who lost his life in a classroom I frequented when I was there. I also live with the absolute terror of how close that day came to threatening my sister’s life as a senior there that year.
I think most of us know what it’s like to cope with some degree of tragedy. Luckily, however, many of us have the good fortune of healthy parents in our lives who at least make it through our young adulthoods. Claire had to cope with the sickness of her parents through adolescence, the death of her mother in her freshman year of college, and the death of her father as a young adult, along with a few other tragedies along the way. I cannot even begin to understand the pain she must have felt. This book probably should have helped me understand, but instead, sadly, I was left feeling completely disconnected.
Although I enjoyed the non-linear way in which Claire wrote this book, I felt she spent too much time over describing tiny experiences, like the thrill of shoplifting, and not enough time really letting me in as the reader. I felt completely removed from the character and honestly was a little disappointed. I did find it a somewhat touching story of survival, but just felt she could have done a better job letting me really get to know her rather than listing off her experiences with a dry, detached nonchalance.
Though I wouldn’t recommend putting this book on the top of your reading queue, I still think it’s worth adding to the list. It opened my eyes to how I could be more supportive to someone who’s suffered a loss by offering an ear and just not disappearing. It also reminded me that my parents’ mere presence in my life is something worth celebrating every day. Life is fragile and you never know when something big could change things forever.
This is a paid review from BlogHer Book Club. I also received a free copy of The Rules of Inheritance from Penguin Group. However, all opinions are my own.