Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Reading on a Theme: What the Dead Left Behind

What the Dead Left Behind is becoming a staple over here at Intellectual Recreation. Today we have five more beautifully written books about grief and loss after the death of a loved one. Be sure to have tissues handy.

More What the Dead Left Behind posts here.

TW: Several of these books deal with suicide and mental illness.

A Scar:
Klee is reeling from death of his father even these many months later. The reality is that Klee has never really dealt with the emotions that come with loss and trauma, and that becomes abundantly clear after a frightening incident in front of his former girlfriend lands him in a psychiatric hospital. Now with the help of therapists, medication, and his fellow patients, Klee is going to have to put his life back together. Told in alternating timelines, Gae Polisner's newest novel is gritty and emotional and not always easy to read because it is not a forgone conclusion that Klee will gain some emotional stability and accept that he needs help. In Sight of Stars is out March 13, 2018. Review copy from NetGalley. 

A Feather:
Leigh is convinced that when her mother died by suicide she turned into a beautiful red crane. And Leigh knows that what that red crane wants her to do is to travel to Taiwan to meet her mother's estranged parents for the first time. In Taiwan, Leigh doesn't quite fit in. She doesn't speak the language well, and she desperately wishes that her mother hadn't kept her from this side of her heritage. The Astonishing Color of After is a special blend of magical realism. I didn't always know if what Leigh was experiencing was really happening or not. Emily X.R. Pan's debut has depths. She explores mental illness, suicide, family ties, friendship, and loss. I really liked wandering the streets of Taiwan with Leigh. The Astonishing Color of After is out March 20, 2018.

A Ghost:
When Rose Asher was 11 her brother died, but he isn't really gone. He's a ghost, and Rose has been hanging out with him every afternoon for four years. Because of all the secrets, Rose's world shrunk after her brother's death, but when Jamie Aldridge, Rose's former friend and neighbor, returns to town, Rose begins to realize how much she's missed by isolating herself. Maybe now that Jamie's back she can get a second chance. I loved Invisible Ghosts. Jamie is definitely my kind of book boyfriend, and I loved the banter between him and Rose. Robyn Schneider's new book is so charming and heartfelt. I devoured it in two sittings. Invisible Ghosts is out June, 5, 2018. Review copy from Edelweiss.

A Band:
Shay, Autumn, and Logan are grieving the deaths of a sister, a best-friend, and an ex-boyfriend. The Beauty That Remains is a novel that explores the different manifestations of grief. It follows the perspectives of these three characters, who are seemingly unrelated, but it's in rekindling their connection that healing starts to become possible. Ashley Woodfolk crafted a really solid debut. I really liked how all three of the main characters are so different from one another and yet they all had a connection that dated from before the book's beginning. To me that signified the importance of understanding, empathy, and reaching out. The Beauty That Remains is out March 6, 2018. Review copy from NetGalley.  

A Painting:
Corey thought she would be returning to Lost Creek, Alaska after a semester at boarding school to visit her best friend. Instead she's coming for Kyra's funeral. Corey determines to get to the bottom of Kyra's death. But things aren't the same in Lost Creek. Corey is now considered an outsider and no one will talk to her. Meanwhile, the whole town speaks of Kyra with reverent tones. Corey is convinced that something very weird happened while she was gone. Before I Let Go is such a mind-bender of a book. Marieke Nijamp deals with issues of mental illness, suicide, death, loss, and fitting in through a creepy kind of magical realism. Before I Let Go is out January 2, 2108. Review copy from NetGalley.

 All books reviewed by JoLee.

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