A couple weeks ago I was sent The Rules of Inheritance to read and review. And while I chose to participate in the book review I put off actually reading the book for a long time because I’ve always been a little wary of reading memoirs. My favorite kinds of books are usually thick with mystery and murders (like anything by James Patterson), or more on the fantastical side (the Harry Potter series is my all time fave, hands down). Memoirs scare me, I’m always afraid they’ll be boring.
When I did actually force myself to sit down and start reading my initial thought was “well this isn’t going to be that fun”. And then I couldn’t put it down. I read the book in 3 days – an impressive feat for me these days when you factor in work, working out, and spending the majority of my time with the boy.
The book takes you through the author’s, Claire Bidwell Smith , experiences battling with her grief and the extreme emotional responses she has when trying to deal with it. She was born into a set of older parents and both were diagnosed with cancer when she was only 14 – her dad first and then shortly thereafter her mom.
Being delivered such traumatic news at such a young age breeds a very rebellious and emotional response from Claire and she answers the news by dabbling in all the common teen rebellions: underage drinking, lying, sex, etc… and while I can identify with the rebellion I really can’t identify with the anger that comes seething off the pages in her earlier years. Then again, I’ve never been given news like that either.
While her dad was the first to be diagnosed with cancer, it was her mom that ended up passing away first in Claire’s early college career. I was heartbroken when this happened – I can’t even begin to fathom losing my mom, and it was incredibly emotional reading about how she dealt with this loss. At times I wanted to reach through the pages and give her a hug. The two bright spots in this were her blossoming relationship with her dad – something that she openly admits would have never happened had he died first – and her really coming into her own, albeit through a lot of trial and error.
The book is broken into five different sections, each named after a stage of her grief, and each section is delivered in chapters that highlight different ages of her life. They aren’t chronological so it does a lot of jumping around, but the end result is a very poignant picture of how every tragedy she faced – and there were many of them only starting with her parent’s cancer diagnosis – ended up shaping her into the person that she is today.
While I wasn’t initially enamored with the book I actually really enjoyed reading it and would definitely recommend it. It’s not light reading in the sense that there are a lot of heavy emotional topics that surface throughout the book, but it is a fast read – once you start it’s hard to put it down. Everything is so well-written that it’s easy to get swept up in her story.
Over the next several weeks we’ll be discussing the book further at the BlogHer Book Club , so you should pick up a copy (look how easy I made that!) and come join in with us
This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own