4 out of 4 stars
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The Art of Reassembly by Peg Conway is a non-fiction book focused on the author’s experience with grief. Peg Conway was seven years old when her mother died from breast cancer. Since she was so young at the time, she didn’t know how to process the loss. She stepped into a more adult role in the family by taking on more responsibility at a young age. For example, she began making school lunches for herself and her younger brother. Approximately two years after her mother’s death, her father met with his children to tell them that he was getting remarried. Although surprised by the news, she accepted her stepmother, Aggie, as part of the family.
After her father and Aggie had a baby, Mark, they approached Peg and her younger brother about being adopted by their stepmother. It was explained to her that this would protect them if anything ever happened to their father. She was too young to understand the significance of the decision and didn’t feel that she was able to deny her father’s request. Also, Aggie requested that they call her “mom.” Even her birth certificate was changed to list her stepmother as her birth mother after the adoption was completed. The significance of this change weighed heavily on Peg, especially as she got older and had children of her own. She was not especially close to her stepmother. She didn’t feel they shared a true mother-daughter relationship.
I enjoyed reading this book. The author is very honest throughout the book. She explains and shares her complicated emotions easily. Grief counseling is prevalent now for children who lose a parent. However, when Conway was a child, it was not a common practice. As she grew older, she felt the loss again in certain situations. When grief is buried and not talked about, it can resurface later in life. I can relate to several aspects of this book. My father died when I was a child and throughout my life, certain experiences bring back specific memories. I appreciated the way the author investigated why certain situations impacted her significantly and brought back memories. She was able to rationally think about what triggered a certain reaction that didn’t seem appropriate for the situation. Typically, it was triggered by something she hadn’t addressed fully since the death of her mother. A lot of readers will be able to relate to the situations Conway describes in the book.
What I liked most about the book was the way Conway researched the life of her mother. She talked to friends and relatives who knew her mother. They shared old photographs and memories with her so that she could have a vivid impression of the type of person her mother was. I also really liked how the author started volunteering in a program that provided grief counseling for children. She can relate to the emotions they are feeling and help them to cope with the issues they face. There was nothing that I disliked about this book.
The book was edited exceptionally well. I did not see any errors while reading. I recommend this book to readers who are struggling with grief because they can learn a lot from the author. She explains her thoughts and feelings very well throughout the book. It would also appeal to readers who enjoy reading memoirs. I give this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. It clearly describes the feelings and emotions experienced by a daughter who lost her mother at a young age. The author’s honesty in conveying her experiences can benefit people struggling with similar issues. For this reason, it is deserving of a perfect score.
The Art of Reassembly
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