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Reviewed by Jennifer J.

There is a certain order to life and death: parents die before their children. At least this is what author and professor Roger Rosenblatt used to think up until his daughter Amy died unexpectedly from an asymptomatic heart condition.

Roger and his wife Ginny put their own lives on hold to move in with their son-in-law Harris to help raise their beloved daughter’s three children. As each member of the family dealt with his or her own grief about Amy’s death, simple every day tasks such as putting up the Christmas tree, toting the children to and from school and extracurricular activities, reading bedtime stories, and making toast to each child’s specifications drew Roger and Ginny closer into the lives of their grandchildren.

Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt is a little slice-of-life memoir chronicling the events after the death of his daughter Amy. Discovering that Amy’s condition is extremely rare and almost never causes death makes the grief harder for Roger to move past. Fond memories of Amy from Roger’s perspective are sprinkled in among the details of the present. Surprisingly, the children seem more accepting of their mother’s death than anyone else and speak of her more freely. Amy’s husband, Harris, stoically mourns her loss, while proclaiming he will probably never remarry.

Losing a family member, especially one’s child at an early age, is not something we as humans are ever fully prepared for. Even though it has been years since my grandparents’ very much expected passing, I am still prone to tears when I conjure memories of them. Making Toast is about different yet similar losses to my own, and is sure to tug at the heartstrings of many people who will encounter this heartfelt memoir.

As I read the last page, I felt as if I had just spent the last three hours with a room full of strangers. Though I read of both their happy and sad moments, I did not feel I knew them in the way I would have expected after reading moments of invulnerability and honesty. These were all very recent events, and I suspect this memoir might have turned out differently if Rosenblatt had written this several years after her death instead.

Rating: 3/5

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Ecco. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.