Friday, December 27, 2019

Relatable and Real, Grief Novel an Authentic, Enjoyable Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As the youngest of eight children, 16-year-old Pup Flanagan might as well be wearing an invisibility cloak 24/7.  He belongs to a loving family, but his parents are exhausted, his many siblings are busy with their high-achieving lives, and Pup hasn't done anything distinguished enough to really get him noticed.  As a "redheaded, buck-toothed praying mantis" (2), he doesn't attract much attention from members of the opposite sex either.  Especially not from his long-time BFF, who would rather exploit Pup than date him.  The only person who ever really made him feel seen is his big brother, Patrick, who died unexpectedly while off at college.  Now, three years later, it's as if Pup's hero never existed.  His family refuses to talk about Patrick, even though their individual grief leaks through in sometimes alarming ways.  

In danger of failing Studio Art, Pup makes a last-ditch effort to pass by doing a photography project.  To his astonishment, he aces the assignment with a startling photo that reveals the heavy truth about his alcoholic brother.  With the help of a new friend, Pup starts to see the world with a more honest eye, which leads him to finally face some hard facts about his family, his so-called best friend, and his own future.

I've read a million books about grief, so I expected Sorry For Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foley to be just another run-of-the-mill story about loss.  And it is, in the sense that it concerns a family rocked by tragedy and the ways in which each individual member deals with it.  In other ways, it's not a typical grief story because, really, Sorry For Your Loss is about being seen.  This is something Pup struggles with as the youngest in a big family, the average Joe in a clan of overachievers, and the quiet, steady friend who puts up with being walked all over.  He's someone with whom everyone can relate at some level or another and it's impossible not to root for him.  As much as I love Pup as a character what I actually enjoyed most about Sorry For Your Loss is Foley's depictions of life in a large family.  Since I come from one, I know all too well the laughter, tears, tension, drama, and messy love inherent in big broods.  Foley's version rang so true for me that I found myself really feeling Pup's story on so many levels.  Sorry For Your Loss is a beautifully-written novel that's touching and true, relatable and real, poignant and powerful.  I adored it.

(Readalikes:  Grief books are a dime a dozen, but no really comparable titles are coming quickly to mind.  Help?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

3 comments:

  1. *cheering* This book was so under hyped, and I am ecstatic to see a review for it. It's one of my favorite 2019 books. I mean, I love a good grief and loss story, and Foley handled that part so, so well, but she also turned this into a journey of self-discovery and finding his niche and purpose. I simply loved it

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  2. You've been flying through a lot of really good books lately. Fun! :D

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  3. Thank you for the review, I am adding this one to my TBR list right now.

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