Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt

There's no happy ending to Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt. And, it's a book that made me cry so that I had to stop wearing my reading glasses while halfway through. But, it's life, and it's death, and it really says we go on after death, one piece of toast at a time.

Amy Elizabeth Rosenblatt Solomon died on December 8, 2007. She was only 38. She was a physician, but, even more important, she was a wife, a mother of three, and a daughter. Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt, Amy's parents, moved in with her husband, Harris, and the three children as they tried to make life as normal as possible for the children. And, Roger's household duty, that he mastered, was making toast.

Alice McDermott was speaking of a book when she said to Roger, "The greatest tragedy that a couple could face is the loss of a child." And, each day, an angry Roger faced the loss of a wonderful young woman. As much as they mourned her death, they were forced to celebrate her life as well, to help her own children live their lives. The nanny for the children told them, "You are not the first to go through such a thing, and you are better able to handle it than most."

Roger Rosenblatt offers no platitudes for going on. He's angry at God. He knows life goes on. And he acknowledges, "We will never feel right again." At the same time, he and his wife and his son-in-law are showing the three children that they are loved and valued, and life does move on.

Every day, Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt, and Harris Solomon, participate in the lives of the three children, Jessica, Sammy, and James. They take them to school, sporting events, parties, play dates. They get them dressed, take them for special outings, celebrate family occasions. And, they do it all without Amy Rosenblatt Solomon's presence. They just try to allow the children to lead normal lives, despite the pain all of the adults are feeling.

My husband, Jim, died four months ago today. Roger Rosenblatt's story is not a wonderful, or even unique, story. It's just about life. And, it's about acknowledging that sometimes, you just cope with death. You cope with death one step at time, one day at a time. Sometimes, it's just by Making Toast.

Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt. HarperCollins, ©2010. ISBN 9780061825934 (hardcover), 166p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Oh my goodness. I saw this author on the PBS NewsHour talking about his book some time ago. Very sad. But it sounded like a wonderful book. Thanks for reminding me of it, Lesa. I think it would be a good one to have on my shelf.

Lesa said...

It is a very good book, Elizabeth. It's going to make you cry, but it's worth reading.

Anonymous said...

I've got this one on my Kindle. Not quite ready to read it right now, but I will be. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lesa. Hugs and I'm remembering Jim.

Lesa said...

Yes, you have to be ready, Kay. I understand. And, thank you for the hugs and note about Jim.

Patricia said...

So often the right book turns up at just the right moment. I've read Making Toast and applaud Mr. Rosenblatt's honesty. You are in my thoughts.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Patricia. I agree with you. It was refreshing to read about his anger, and his feelings.

kathy d. said...

It sounds like a very good book. Just reading your review made me cry.

I wonder if what the nanny said to the children was appropriate. The children had a terrible loss and are entitled to feel their feelings fully, even as they go through daily life. It's important to let children feel what they need to feel.

I have lost many wonderful friends, and my partner, some at young ages (it isn't easier at any age) and have learned that everyone has to feel what they feel and are entitled to that.

It's just that life does go on and life is complicated with a lot of experiences and feelings.
It just is.

But it also has beautiful memories, including that of loving relationships which belong to us and nurture us.

It is sometimes amazing that life goes on and every day the sun comes up and goes down and people go to work. But that life does go on also helps us, because all of our lives are important and every day and its experiences matter, including reading a good book, playing with the cats, saying hi to the neighbors and making toast.

I hope that "Making Toast" is helpful and I hope that Roger Rosenblatt and his three children are okay.

Lesa said...

Kathy D.

I guess I didn't make something clear in my review. The nanny made that comment to the adults in the group, not to the children. To the adults, it was very appropriate. She was telling them, they needed to on. Roger Rosenblatt is the grandfather of the three children. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear.

You're right. All of that helps us go on with life.

Oh, and Kathy? If you get a chance, go back and read the comments on the Barry Award blog. George, from Deadly Pleasures, is wanting to hear from you.

kathy d. said...

Hi Lesa,

Oh, thanks for clarifying the nanny's comment. I just feel so badly for children going through loss of parents. It's so hard for us, as adults, but little ones.

I have seen such painful things done and expressed by children who face loss of a parent. But these children have a dad and grandparents who care for them and that will help a alot.

Sorry. This is what happens when one blogs late at night, after proofreading for hours, and to clarify Roger is the granddad.

Thanks, Lesa for clarifying.

I'll look at the Barry Award blog.

Have a beautiful day, Lesa. And make sure the cats don't get too worn out with the June book TBR pile.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Kathy!

June is very formidable, and July looks almost as bad right now. But, it's a good "bad!"

Ingrid King said...

This sounds like something I'm going to want to read. Sometimes, I think it helps to read about how others are coping with loss, even when one is in the middle of coping with one's own loss, or perhaps, especially then. As you said in your review, "it's not a unique story. It's just about life." As a society, we are woefully inept at dealing with death and loss, and I think books like this are an important part of bringing the subject to light.

Thinking about you as you're coping with Jim's loss, Lesa.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Ingrid. You're right. I think it does help to read about others. And, the tears help as well.

Thank you for the kind note, Ingrid.

Nishant said...

It's going to make you cry, but it's worth reading.
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