Recent Book & Media Reviews
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- Life After Loss: Conquering Grief and Finding Hope, by Raymond Moody Jr., M.D., and Dianne Arcangel
- Mourning Has Broken- A Collection Of Creative Writing about Grief and Healing, Foreword by Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D.
- The Moon Came Down on Milk Street, by Jean Gralley
- Brick Lane, by Monica Ali
- Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times, by Rabbi David Wolpe
- The Life and Death of Charlie St.Cloud, by Ben Sherwood
- Searching for a Mustard Seed, by Miriam Sagan
- Grief Denied: A Vietnam Widow's Story, reprinted with permission from Pauline Laurent
- Terrorism: The Only Way is Through, by Rosina G. Schnurr, Ph.D.
- My Father's Ghost: the Return of My Old Man and Other Second Chances, by Suzy McKee Charnas
- Flash of Life, by Kara L.C. Jones
- Treasures of Darkness, by Ken Hekman
- Book Announcement: Beyond Coping-Widows Reinventing Their Lives, collected by Molly Hurd and Margie Macdonald
- Waking to Tears: Losing a Loved One to Violence, compiled by Traci Bieber Nelson
- A World of Widows, by Margaret Owen
- Healing Grief: Reclaiming Life after any Loss, James Van Praagh
Books are one of the best places to find the information and support you are seeking to help you cope with your grief and begin to rebuild your life.
If you decide to order one of the books listed here in the Book Review Section, please consider doing it through the Grief and Renewal link to Amazon.Com. By going directly from the book on this site to the book on Amazon's site and ordering you will also be helping to support Grief and Renewal.com.
Our goal is to be able to generate funds to donate to Empowering Women in
Development and thus reach out in hope and caring toward others whose loss is
even more devastating than our own. Thank you!
Dr. Laura Slap-Shelton Publishes her Children’s Book for Bereaved Children: Melissa's Magic Ride
Dr. Laura Slap-Shelton is thrilled to announce the publication of her newest book, Melissa's Magic Ride. Drawing from her personal and professional experience, Dr. Slap-Shelton created this appealing story for all children and in particular to helped bereaved children. The story follows Melissa, a child whose father died when Melissa was quite young. Assigned to tell her classmates about her father the next day, Melissa goes to bed wishing to see or remember her father. She awakens to find that her bed can fly her to the fanciful "planet" where her father now resides. What follows is Melissa's exciting outward adventure and soulful inner journey to the heart of her relationship with her father. Slap-Shelton's use of whimsy, beautifully complimented by Lon Eric Craven's illustrations, highlights but never overshadows the story's true message: the love between Melissa and her father is real. It will stay with Melissa throughout her life. Melissa's magic ride is available at www.melissasmagicride.com or by direct order to email@example.com. It will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in four to six weeks.
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Dr. Laura Slap-Shelton Publishes her Children’s Book for Bereaved Children
Melissa’s Magic Ride
Summer 2010 marks the publication of Dr. Laura Slap-Shelton’s newest book, Melissa’s Magic Ride. The picture book, while it would appeal to any child, is intended for an audience of young people who have experienced a loss.
The story follows Melissa, a child whose father died when Melissa was quite young. Assigned to tell her classmates about her father the next day, Melissa goes to bed wishing, as always, to see or remember him. She awakens to find her bed transformed into a magical flying contraption with the ability to take her to the fanciful “planet” where her father now resides. What follows is, according to Slap-Shelton, Melissa’s “exciting outward adventure and soulful inner journey to the heart of her relationship with her father.”
The inspiration for this story stems from the author’s direct experiences, both professional and personal. “As I watched my daughter grapple with the loss of her father,” she says, “I knew I had to create a story to help give words to her struggles and emotions as she grew.”
And that is exactly what this story does. Never trite or overdone, the narrative voice elegantly embodies the young girl’s perspective. While the story does not deal overtly in religion, the author invokes the afterlife with a fantasy landscape that will appeal to children and parents of all creeds. Slap-Shelton’s use of whimsy, beautifully complimented by Lon Eric Craven’s illustrations, highlights but never overshadows the story’s true message: the love between Melissa and her father is real. It will stay with Melissa throughout her life.
Melissa’s Magic Ride is available at www.melissasmagicride.com or by direct order to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in four to six weeks.
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Christman Gifts, Christmas Voices
by John Allen
HCI (October 15, 2002)
pp. 114, hardcover
Reviewed By: Amazon.com
[Order from Amazon.com]
"It was a perfect life. And it was hard for Eric Sanders to imagine how things could be any better." So begins the novel Christmas Gifts, Christmas Voices.
Eric seems to have resolved all of life's major issues, but in an instant, his world falls apart. While wrapping Christmas gifts for his wife and children, a policeman knocks on the door to tell him that his family was killed in a car accident. Consumed with grief, he knows it will take a Christmas miracle to ever find peace again, let alone enjoy the holidays. His world is in ruins.
Amazingly, Eric finds that peace through the giving of the special presents he so lovingly created for his family, and from that simple gesture learns that giving to others with joy and love has a ripple effect. He discovers the true meaning of Christmas and, in the echo of the Christmas bells, realizes that death is not an ending but a transition. Love can never be extinguished.
Christmas Gifts, Christmas Voices is a heartfelt look at love and the fragility of life. This tiny treasure of a book will inspire readers to take pleasure in the wonders of everyday life and cherish each special moment -- and it is sure to be this season's most talked-about holiday novel.
"Christmas Gifts, Christmas Voices has messages of love and wisdom to make your heart sing with the recognition of the miracle of life."
—Mark Victor Hansen, coauthor, Chicken Soup for the Soul series
"Christmas Gifts, Christmas Voices is a beautiful illustration of why it makes a positive difference to choose to do good and reach out, even in the face of heart-numbing challenges. I know; I've been there."
—Hyrum Smith, Founder/CEO, Franklin Covey, and best-selling author, What Matters Most
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Through My Ears Into My Soul
by Christa L. Bissell
Pine Tree Publishing Ithaca, NY 2003
Reviewed By: Sarah Tuttle 3-20-2006
[Order from Amazon.com]
Through My Ears Into My Soul is Christa Bissell’s beautiful memorial to her loved one, Larry Post. Her grief at Larry’s sudden death has manifested itself in a truly unique book. The first pages illustrate through novella-like prose the events leading up to her reunion with Larry, and progresses through the time they spent together to his unexpected death. The reader is enthralled by masterful storytelling that allows them to feel Bissell’s unadulterated joy as well as her overwhelming grief. Next there is a stunning photographic memorial showing Larry’s life as musician, artist, dancer, and loved one adds dimension to the man who figures so prominently in Bissell’s own life. In closing, Bissell includes selections of letters she wrote to Larry following his death as a part of her own grieving process.
In a tone uncommon to books of this ilk, Bissell chooses to emphasize her living relationship with Larry and the happiness that they shared. While she does not shy away from the unpleasant aspects of their relationship, Bissell leaves the reader with the positive impression of a mutually loving and healthy relationship.
A unique aspect of this story is its ability to cross boundaries. While Bissell is clearly spiritual, she does not let any particular religion take over her story. This has the effect of allowing readers of various faiths to become involved in her tale to without feeling misplaced.
Through My Ears Into My Soul may be difficult for an individual raw from new grief, as it clearly shows that Bissell’s own sorrow has no magic cure. This is certainly not a self-help book, and should not be read with expectation of such. Instead, the reader is treated to an artful story of love and loss that will not easily be forgotten.
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Grief Expressed: When a Mate Dies
by Marta Felber
Life Words, West Fork, Arkansas, 1997
ISBN: 0-9653967-3-8 (deluxe gift edition)
Reviewed By: Sarah Tuttle 1-31-2006
[Order from Amazon.com]
In her beautifully packaged book, Grief Expressed: When a Mate Dies, Marta Felber offers a unique guide and workbook to help the bereaved move through the grieving process. Targeted primarily toward widows, the exercises in her book range from coping with the intense emotions of grief to dealing with practical necessities following the death of a partner. Felber’s sensitivity and frankness combined with her intimate knowledge of the grieving process make this book a good choice as a gift for a friend who is bereaved as well.
Grief Expressed is well organized with examples of exercises based on Felber’s experiences of grief following the death of her husband placed on the left hand page and on the right hand side, open-ended questions and blank spaces for the reader. The exercises are presented in the order that Felber herself found useful; however, an index at the back of the book references the exercises so that the reader can easily compose her own sequence. A key theme throughout Felber’s book is empowerment and regaining a sense of control in one’s life following the loss of a life partner. She encourages both self-pampering and bearing up to learn tasks that one may not have had to tackle before, such as basic home maintenance. Throughout, the reader is helped to confront feelings of helplessness and work at a comfortable pace, respectful of their mourning process.
Felber does not avoid subjects that many find uncomfortable. Conflicting feelings of anger and guilt, as well as the need to remain active both socially and sexually are approached with tact. Attentive to the details of daily living which become so significant in the life of the bereaved, Grief Expressed provides a friendly companion and guide through the first steps to recovery from grief.
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Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago
by Kerry Egan
Doubleday, New York, NY, 2004
Reviewed By: Sarah Tuttle 2-13-2006
[Order from Amazon.com]
In Fumbling, Kerry Egan tells the tale of her pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. The Camino de Santiago, a route that stretches eight hundred kilometers from France to Spain, is traveled by thousands of pilgrims each year in order to pay respects to the remains of Saint James. Egan tells how her journey was prompted by the anniversary of her father’s death, and shows how the pilgrimage changed her views of both God and grief.
Kerry’s interactions with other pilgrims, as well as those who care for the pilgrims on their journey, prove both startling and amusing. Kerry uses various anecdotes to aptly display the devotion of persons along the Camino and lighten up an otherwise uniform story. A cathedral with live chickens displayed in a golden coop, a man who conducts himself as a pious knight, and a woman whose attack dog acts as a welcoming committee for pilgrims are just a few of the delightful characters and situations Egan faced along her journey. Through beautifully descriptive writing she makes the reader jump in fear, sigh in appreciation, and nearly vomit in disgust. Readers find themselves immersed in a unique culture which they will not readily forget.
Despite the occasionally humorous passages found strewn throughout the book, Egan’s story is not one of hilarity—-it conveys the tale of a deeply religious passage. So religious, in fact, that most of the time the healing of grief is lost among the faith-based revelations of the journey. This book, an excellent tale of finding belief and purpose in devotion to God, does not serve the purpose of addressing grief as well as one might assume from reading the jacket-cover. Indeed, the tone of the author makes grief appear as a mere afterthought.
Egan’s style is one that leaves the reader, after the first forty or so pages, in a perpetual state of annoyance. She tends to jump from one topic to the next without more transition than a break in the page. One moment the reader is walking through a rain-drenched landscape, and the next they are deluged in five pages of a history lesson. This format, while originally refreshing and enthralling, quickly becomes tedious and exasperating.
Egan also has a tendency to repeat herself. For instance, there are many times in the book when she “first realizes God.” After the first few times this occurs, the reader is forced to state to themselves that after a point “initial realization” must change to “continued awareness.”
Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago focuses primarily on Egan’s spiritual journey. This book will not grip you with its intensity, nor shock you with unusual revelations, yet for some this may provide a welcome change of pace. For a reader interested in experiencing a woman’s journey to faith through pilgrimage and grief, this book is a resource worth exploring.
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