Last month I featured A CASE OF GRAVE DANGER about a girl whose family is in the funeral business. Set in the Victorian era the story was filled with scary scenes. I never expected to be reading another book about a girl and her family’s cemetery business, but I’m glad I came across SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS.
Evie Walman is not obsessed with death. She does think about it a lot, though, but only because her family runs a Jewish funeral home. At twelve, Evie already knows she’s going to be a funeral director when she grows up. So what if the kids at school call her “corpse girl” and say she smells like death? They’re just mean and don’t get how important it is to have someone take care of things when your world is falling apart. Evie loves dusting caskets, polishing pews, and vacuuming the chapel―and on funeral days, she dresses up and hands out tissues and offers her condolences to mourners. She doesn’t normally help her parents with the grieving families directly, until one day when they ask her to help with Oren, a boy who was in a horrific car accident that killed both his parents. Oren refuses to speak and Evie, who is nursing her own private grief, is determined to find a way to help him deal with his loss.
The combination of Evie and Oren as the young characters dealing with tragedy was beautifully handled. Despite the sad background for the story, these two kids say more about overcoming grief than any book I’ve ever come across. It never goes away completely, but the plot here gives it a hopeful dose of resolution.
Evie’s first person narration is a realistic portrayal of the healing process needed when someone close to you dies. Her loving parents are there for Evie and appreciate her trying to help Oren get through his loss. The heartfelt scenes with Evie talking individually with each parent show the power of a family truly there for each other.
But her scenes with Oren are what make this story special. Evie wonders if she is any help at all. Oren won’t talk but eventually the truth as to why comes forth in a tearful climatic way. Wonderful character arcs for each. Humor propels this story to one of my favorite contemporary reads this year.
SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS is heartwarming, bold, and helpful.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: October 12, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 266
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS by Joanne Levy
- You get a full understanding of Jewish customs and beliefs. They were presented within the context of the story, making them easy to remember and understand.
- Evie likes to create art using paper quilling. I’d never heard of this art form but discovered its healing powers as do the characters. Art therapy for sure.
- I cringed each time Evie was approached by her two hateful classmates. The story line allows for some resolution in a perfect kid like way.
- A tale about grief and death is expertly woven into the real story about healing and family. So well done it had me wanting to read this again.
- Bibliotherapy is a term used to describe books that heal those in need. This one shines on all accounts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joanne Levy’s love of books began at a very early age. Being the youngest and the only female among four children, she was often left to her own devices and could frequently be found sitting in a quiet corner with her nose in a book. Now that she’s a grown up, Joanne is most often at her computer, channeling her younger self into the books she writes for kids who enjoy reading in quiet corners.
Joanne still lives in Ontario with her husband and kids of the furred and feathered variety. You can follow Joanne on Instagram or find her on Facebook.
(For more visit Joanne’s author web site)
COMMENTS ARE WELCOME BELOW…
Sounds really good, thanks for the review
This sounds like a great story that adults as well as kids could benefit from reading.
I have a copy of this book on its way to me and can’t wait to read it.
Wow, this does sound like a must-read! I haven’t seen anything like it before. I thought for sure that you were going to indicate that the author had some personal experience with funeral homes via family. So that surprised me. I’ve always wondered how members of families involved with funeral homes dealt with death. So many do get involved in the family business. Found the young girl aspect fascinating. Reminded me a bit of “My Girl” DVD series.
This sound like a good one! Thanks for the post.
This sounds like such an excellent and original story! Grief can definitely be a bit over-explored in MG books, but it sounds like this book brings a unique spin to the issue—and diving so far into the topic probably helps push it away from the clichés. And I’m glad it ended up as one of your favorite contemporary reads of the year! Thanks so much for the great review!
I have been hearing about this book and really want to read it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
A bit late to the party but thank you so much for your lovely, thoughtful review of SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS. It’s very validating to hear that I got it right in this book which is important to me for so many reasons, including honoring my dad (who manages a funeral home) and giving kids a safe and accessible way to explore grief and funerals. Thanks again!
p.s. research notes, resources, links for further study, and a discussion/activity guide are all on my website here: http://www.joannelevy.com/sorry-for-your-loss-research/