Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

Surviving a loss has a silver lining…

Everyone has a story of hardship and the resulting success or challenges: overcoming an illness, triumphing through financial distress, suffering loss that leads to spiritual rebirth, or numerous other scenarios. You may even have that story yourself. People who experience intense loss often find a renewed interest in life as a result of their hardship. People who “bounce forward” after a trial are called “supersurvivors”: a group of individuals who form the premise behind Feldman and Karvetz’ book of the same name.

Nine chapters in Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success discuss the influences that alter an individual’s success during and after a challenge. Summarizing major loss, the potential harmful effects of excessive positive thinking, the truth in human perception, and the role of forgiveness in recoveries, the book makes some interesting points regarding recovery that seem understandable after a loss.

For example, when people are massacred during a war and children are left behind to deal with the horrific images, it is important for the survivors to forgive but never forget their loss experience. The authors argue that forgiveness leads to healing but remembrance of the experiences offers purpose to the pain and suffering, which in turn helps the survivors move forward. Similarly, people who always find the positive in every situation, according to the book, are actually doing themselves a disservice. Feldman and Kravetz believe that over-positivity is a mask for those who do not actually want to deal with their sadness and pain—therefore, the amount of exuded positivity is not actually an accurate display of emotion. In an example from the book, a man experienced losing his sight. He found no “positives” in this experience but he was still able to enjoy happiness in his life. By being realistic, the person was able to finally move forward and develop a more meaningful life for himself – not by thinking of a “positive” reason or application of his blindness, but by being realistic about his loss of sight.

I can understand that supersurvivors are making the best of a bad situation. The book shows people how to come together and help each other after a major loss. Supersurvivors also advocates for people to help themselves, to leave pity behind, and to move forward quickly to a more prosperous future.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

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