A couple of months ago, Ellen Stimson’s publicist contacted me about reviewing an advance copy of her upcoming book, Good Grief. (Apparently, she’d seen my review of Stimson’s first book, Mud Season, on Goodreads back when I was motivated enough to actually write reviews instead of just rating books with stars.) It took me quite awhile to finish the book while doing the working mom thing, but I finally wrote my review. Since A) I liked the book and would like to share it with as many people as possible and B) I’m not feeling inspired enough to write a pithy (or coherent) additional blog entry, I’m recycling the review I just posted on Goodreads. Here goes:
I normally read books in the returning-to-a-simpler-life genre hoping to glean gardening tips,recipes, and interesting nature facts while simultaneously being entertained by the author’s story. While Good Grief doesn’t offer much in the way of homesteading advice–Stimson mentions her chickens and garden in passing a few times but doesn’t elaborate–I still enjoyed it. Stimson’s tone is light and humorous, even when dealing with some heavy topics. Many of the experiences she describes would annoy if not traumatize most people, but Stimson chooses not to dwell on the negative in her pages. Instead, she describes each episode with a focus on humor and family solidarity. I especially appreciated her demonstration that not all divorces have to be acrimonious, that families can be re-built as well as broken, and that love is more important than blood in holding families together. I too have a family created by marriage and divorce, life and death, and most of my siblings aren’t actually blood-related to me; since many people I know have similar situations, I think Stimson’s message about the flexibility and resilience of family, even if it’s not a traditional mom-dad-kids family, is both timely and important. All in all, I highly recommend this memoir to anyone who likes books that could be described as “heartwarming” since that’s a particularly relevant adjective for Good Grief.