Sunday, August 12, 2007

Name All the Animals

by Alison Smith

Started: 31 July 2007
Finished: 12 August 2007

I purchased this book because of Mike, my only brother, whose 45th birthday would be this week, that is--if he hadn't died in 1991--just after his 29th birthday.

From the cover synopsis, "Name all the Animals," seemed to be a story about a sister who had lost her brother -- as I have done -- and then come to terms with her loss, moving from grief back into life and love. Or so I thought. But I suppose I should have known that each person's story is unique and therefore, their journey through such things will also be unique. I just never expected to find so much that was so different, while at the same time seeing strange patterns of overlap.

It is a hauntingly beautiful story. Sad and happy but not in the way the author intends perhaps. To me, it was sad because her brother's death caused her to lose her faith in God. For me it was just the opposite. I rediscovered God when Mike died.

Still I liked that the book dealt with sibling grief. As Ms. Smith says in an interview at the end of the book, "Sibling grief is overlooked in our culture. When a child dies, we look to the parents. They are the center stage of the tragedy. If siblings are noticed at all, it is only as an extension of the parents. They are told that they must make up for the lost child, they must look after the parents."

The author does a beautiful job describing herself objectively and those around her as they struggle on in the aftermath of the years following her brother, Roy's death at 18.

I recommend this book with reservations; it deals with mature themes and should not be read by children or adolescents.


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