Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Rules of Inheritance: BlogHer Book Club Review

OK, I'm already digging this BlogHer Book Club gig.  I've read two new books in 3 weeks.

The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith is a memoir of an only child who lost both of her parents to cancer before she was 25.  Cheery, right?  Not a book I would have chosen on my own, but I am really glad I read it.

I was wary when I started, because we too, are older parents to an only daughter and I do worry about leaving her "alone in the world" when we're gone.  I also don't do well with sad books - they tend to stick with me and I internalize more than I should.

This book is really well-written and despite the weighty subject matter, very easy to read.  I breezed through it in three days because I really did want to know what happened to her.   My big DUH moment was realizing halfway through that it was a *memoir*, not fiction.  Somehow I missed that detail, and reading the first half had me thinking that no one's life was this depressing, and that the main character just could not catch a break, and wow this book is *such* a downer.

My perspective completely changed when I realized it was a memoir.  Halfway through, the author gives you glimpses into her later (and better) life.  She finds the love of her life, gets married, has a kid.  I appreciated her slow and arduous climb out of grief.  Smith is a talented writer who pulled me right along with her during her journey.

I didn't love the way the book was organized - it was divided into parts according to the stages of grief, and then within each section was a series of "scenes" from different times in Claire's life, jumping back and forth through time.  I'm a linear thinker, so I found the timeline-jumping very distracting.  I thought the same thing about The Time Traveler's Wife, too.  I realize that this organization was very deliberate as the stages of grief are not linear either.

The Kindle version had some weird formatting issues - but I may have received a special review copy, so those may be fixed in the "real" version.

I'd recommend this book for anyone looking to expand their horizons.  It's definitely not a shiny happy "vacation book" but it is enlightening, and possibly would help folks be a better friend to someone who's grieving.

I was compensated for this review by BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are totally my own.


  1. Just added to my Goodreads. Thanks for recommending.

  2. @Carrie77 - sure! Hope you enjoy it!

  3. An, not that I'm pressuring you or anything, but if you're worried about leaving your daughter alone in the world, the obvious solution is to have more kids. It's one of the reasons I wanted to get married again and have more kids (that and I like being a Dad). Family gatherings are fun. I like aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. Those only happen with multiple kids. As an aside, one of my nieces is a foreign exchange student in China this year, and while they're aware of things like siblings, such things are foreign to them.

  4. @Bryce- the "obvious" solution isn't always the right one, though...


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