"As I have now come to realize, my father and I were in the same boat. I, too, had this store of true stories imparted to me by my parents, but I chose to spend time writing mediocre fiction."

Peterson explores the tenuous threads of memory and the invulnerable connection of life to death as he recollects the loss of his mother, Inge—a Danish woman who emigrated to the United States in 1946, the loss of his father, Bob, their life together as a family, and, ultimately, Peterson’s coping with his mother’s death. Peterson gently weaves his own memories and insights with his mother’s shared memories and experiences in order to preserve his mother’s life and explore his grief, all the while noting the importance of homeland and family and the impenetrable influence of both on his life.

The author’s book is part historical narrative, part personal reflection. In it, the narrator recalls important life lessons from his parents, particularly from his mother, and he reflects on how those lessons influence his adult life. At the same time, the narrator contributes to an important, yet relatively taboo, societal conversation about death—its inevitability, its consequences on those loved ones left behind, and how writing to preserve a loved one’s memory can ultimately serve as a beneficial means of coping, grieving, and moving forward. In his book, readers encounter eloquent discussions about how even the smallest memories and routines, such as giving a loved one medicine at a particular time, become important relics during the grieving process. For those who are grieving themselves, or for those simply interested in sparse yet eloquent prose, this emotional work is a must-add to their reading lists. Fans of Caitlin Doughty will appreciate the grieving and coping aesthetics of this book, while readers of works like German Boy: A Child in War will appreciate the historical nature of the book.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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