TEENAGERS FACE TO FACE WITH BEREAVEMENT
*Starred Review, Booklist
Adolescent dialogue dominates here, giving a flavor of real interviews and feelings. There is a lot of variety -- in the causes of death, time elapsed since the loss, and emotional responses -- with some unusual, useful inclusions (eg., death caused by the complications of alcoholism; relations in stepfamilies). The authors understand why teen grief can be so excrutiating: the cataclysmic event is often superimposed on the normal adolescent need to separate. They also bring depth to topics covered only incidentally elsewhere, devoting more than a chapter to the responses of friends and another to what they call, "When You Weren't Wild About Them in the First Place." Working chronologically from before the death to the initial shock, then to a possible second wave of grief a year or more later and to rebuilding and moving on, the authors close with special messages from kids about things they found helpful.
Nearly 20 teenagers express themselves in the book, with the authors taking their cues from the interviewees. The language is informal and easy for readers to relate to. [The book] includes especially valuable sections on possible reactions people have on the anniversary of a death, how to rebuild a life following the death of someone close, and how friends might react to grieving teens. Throughout are quotes from the teenagers themselves, who tell what was hardest for them, how they are now, and, most importantly, the little things that helped them through the worst of their grief.
Moving testimonies of 17 young people. All candidly articulate their feelings in brief comments drawn smoothly together in chapters that particularize the stages of grief in terms of its effects on young adults -- feelings about returning to school after the funeral, readjustment within the family following the death of a parent, the crucial role peers play in an adolescent's bereavement. Emotions, not the background that spawned them, are the heart of the book -- from denial, confusion, and guilt to the total inertia that comes with depression. The pain expressed, through never maudlin, is difficult to read. For those who can handle it, however, the book may be a source of comfort that gives shape to the devastation of personal loss.