Author Miriam Gershow’s first book features 15 year old Lydia Pasternak: intellectually gifted, bookish, skinny, a social outcast and a nerd. Following the mysterious disappearance of her popular older brother Danny, Lydia becomes somewhat of a celebrity in her small community and is almost neglected by her parents who are consumed with the need to find Danny. At school, she is suddenly popular among Danny’s friends and is almost overwhelmed by the attention and the outpouring of sympathy and grief. The problem is, Lydia herself hasn’t been too fond of Danny. And grief is hard to come by. Despite this, she tries her best to help with his search particularly when her parents hire a private investigator who Lydia finds very interesting and intriguing. What they find in the end, is something everyone, including Lydia is unprepared for. And it continues to haunt her for the rest of her life.
This is an interesting book by first-time author Miriam Gershow. It looks at the manner in which people grieve — publicly and privately. How much is too much? And can you grieve in private if your grief is made a public affair? What happens to a family after a traumatic event? And is there an appropriate way to grieve? What if you felt ambivalent about the person who you lost? What then, is the etiquette to grieve?
Through Lydia, her mother, her father and members of the Fairfield community, Gershow portrays differing ways of coping with loss and evokes the above questions. The book is narrated through Lydia’s point of view — how she sees others grieving and how she herself struggles to find the tears. How she struggles being known mostly as ‘Danny’s sister’. Does she eventually manage to deal with the loss? Or will she continue to be distant and avoidant? I found Lydia’s character to be warm initially and really liked her but then, as the character grew distant from other characters, I felt the same sense…as though she were growing distant from us the reader as well. And yet, it wasn’t a bad thing. It just made it seem a bit more real.
All in all, a good effort for a debut novel.
I’d give it a rating of 4. (Although 3 and a half is probably more appropriate)
Until next time,