Book Review: Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking

When I began reading this memoir, I had no idea it was about grief and loss. When I realized the subject I had to decide if I really wanted to immerse myself in it at this point in my life. “Oh no, don’t,” I thought. I began reading and found the book helpful and honest.

Didion recounts the first year of her life following the sudden death of her husband of forty years while at the same time, their adult daughter is seriously ill in the ICU. Dealing with what she’s been dealt seems an insurmountable task as she relates for us her doubts, her fears, her inability to cope with routine, and the physical manifestations of sorrow that makes you feel numb and immobile.

Joan Didion is not known for a cheery, uplifting style of writing. We know we are in for the real deal with no candy coating. To her credit, in this sad book she defines —almost perfectly—the range of grief we encounter and the strength that one must find to keep going.

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