Wednesday, February 12, 2020

A Seasonal Book: Jayne Barnard's Where the Ice Falls

So far, 2020 has been busy. January was Alzheimer's Awareness Month, and now February is ... well, flying by, mostly.

Fortunately, my evenings for the past few months have included time for reading. And although I don't write reviews, as I've said, I enjoy reading and I enjoy sharing books and resources. (Which is the purpose of the label "go there and read this.")

In that spirit, here is a book I've enjoyed reading recently: When the Ice Falls, by J. E. Barnard.


Full disclosure: Jayne once lived in this region, our paths have crossed in real life. She's a lovely person, and an excellent writer. Her work has won awards and she obviously doesn't need me to say nice things--so all of the things below have no agenda other than letting you know of a book you might really enjoy.

Where the Ice Falls is the second in a series, The Falls Mysteries. The first, When the Flood Falls (July 2018), gots lots of positive attention. I enjoyed it and scribbled "Jayne's next" on my "books to check out" page.

Like its predecessor, Where the Ice Falls has lots of things going for it--an all-too-human protagonist, her realistic and flawed friends, and their widely varied families. The greater community includes lots of real people, from different socioeconomic backgrounds, different life paths, and different experiences of physical and emotional health. The mystery part is real and serious. The solutions aren't at all obvious. You can relax into the book, buoyed by smooth prose and first-hand knowledge of the terrain (Alberta's mountains).

It was especially appropriate for me because the book is set roughly late November through the Christmas holidays, and that's when I read it! Always a nice coincidence. But not necessary--don't wait until next winter to read it!

Another interesting element: all the main characters are women. I especially enjoyed that.

The third in the series, Why the Rock Falls, is due in July of 2020. When I finished Where the Ice Falls, I left "Jayne's next" on my list. Summer reading to look forward to!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Listening to Grief

I doubt I'll ever be finished writing about Alzheimer's and dementia. Still, I meant to write a wrap-up post for 2020's Alzheimer's Awareness Month.

However, I'm changing course, a bit. In recent days, I've been talking with friends and family, those who feel safe and those who don't, those who feel optimistic and those whose hope has flickered so long it's going out.

Grief is everywhere, or so it seems.

In late January, this article crossed my desk: David Kessler's, at LitHub, on how we experience grief, an excerpt from his book Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. The article full of wisdom, much of which I hadn't considered, even though I feel more at home with grief than some I know.

For example: grief and mourning are different--grief is what we feel, mourning is our action.

For example: from a researcher in Australia, the story from a northern indigenous village--that when someone dies, people move something from their house into their yard. Furniture, even. So when the grieving person looks outside, she sees that the village understands what she feels: everything is different.

For example: "When people ask me how long they’re going to grieve, I ask them, 'How long will your loved one be dead? That’s how long. I don’t mean you’ll be in pain forever. But you will never forget that person, never be able to fill the unique hole that has been left in your heart.'"

And mostly: Everyone who is grieving needs to have that grief acknowledged--witnessed. Which does NOT mean listening for a while then saying, "this too shall pass," "everything happens for a reason," or "what is, is."

Just listen.

So: in these days of great grief, I'm listening.