The author of this memoir creates a generally temporally sequential tale of the trials of a family fraught with a series of personal tragedies.  The tale is told by Jessica, the eldest of three daughters.  One of her sisters (Sarah) has a rare genetic disorder which affects the daily life of the family as she requires significant medical attention over the nearly three decades of her life.  Into this demanding  drain   on the young family comes the totally unexpected diagnosis of acute lymphocytic leukemia leveled at the youngest sister (Susie).  Susie becomes acutely ill and over a short period of time, dies.

The reader then enters the drama of the dissolution of the family: a father who becomes dysfunctional and unable to assist and a mother who must pick up the remnants and move on with the surviving siblings.  Sarah and Jessica  move forward and live lives into their young adulthoods.  Then, suddenly, Sarah dies.  The remainder of the tale has to do with the author's assessment of the past and of her future.


The core of this memoir is compelling.  It takes a bit of reading to sort out the principals and the direction the tale may take.  There are flashbacks that at first are disorienting, but eventually fall into the pattern of the memoir and become fluid.  Of interest is the lack of overt anguish in this painful tale, with the essence of ultimate healing prominent.  It is not an easy read, but a credible and useful take on a terrible set of family tragedies--without becoming maudlin.  Nicely, skillfully, presented.


Public Affairs

Place Published

New York



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