Deb Aronson | A novel to help young readers overcome grief | Books

One of the reasons I found Joanne Levy’s ‘Sorry for Your Loss’ such a compelling read is that it speaks candidly about the loss and grief it feels when someone we love dies. .

This is the first mid-level book I’ve read that talks so explicitly about things like how grieving is different for different people and at different times, and what the job of a funeral director, or the funeral director, is. A friend’s job (for that matter), is not to resolve someone’s grief, but only to support people as they go through it.

The main character, Evie Walman, lives with her parents and brother.

The family operates a funeral home.

It makes death more central to family life than if the family had a different business, and it also gives Levy the opportunity to demystify the grieving process, including funerals and other gatherings.

Evie is currently helping out at the funeral home by vacuuming, restocking water bottles and handing out tissues.

She sees that what her parents are doing, comforting people and supporting them in their grief, is a truly important service to their community.

She thinks she wants to be an undertaker when she’s older.

Sadly, some kids in Evie’s small private school don’t see what Evie’s family does as a positive calling.

They use her as an excuse to intimidate Evie, calling her a “zombie” and claiming that she smells like a rotting corpse.

She hates being bullied, but Evie doesn’t have any friends, and she usually doesn’t mind.

She made a friend at summer camp, where she learned to pluck.

This friendship ended badly in a way that marked Evie so much that she says she doesn’t want to have another friend. Never.

So when Oren comes into her life, through the funeral home (her parents were killed in a car crash, he survived and now lives with his uncle), she is ready to help under the guise of junior funeral director. , but she is firm that she does not need a friend.

As Oren hasn’t spoken since the accident, it’s working out well for both of them.

But slowly, slowly, things are changing.

Evie considers it a personal challenge to get Oren to speak, and when she gets the hint of a smile, she feels the thrill of success.

But Oren is, of course, devastated, and Evie learns to hold back her persistence and positive attitude, to follow Oren’s example instead of grabbing him by the nose.

It’s a great learning experience to support Evie.

It at least helps the story that Oren communicates via text!

Evie’s hobby, quilling, serves as a connection point.

I let the reader find out how quilling connects them.

But also, look for quilling!

The videos make it look easy, but it’s probably a question of how good you are with your hands. The end results are amazing!

Meanwhile, the story does a great job of modeling how to help someone grieve.

Evie and Oren develop a shorthand for DYNAH, which means “do you need a hug?” The message here is, again, to follow the other person’s lead and ask them to give them a hug, rather than just doing it (in case the person isn’t comfortable with receive a hug at that time).

Because Walman Memorial Chapel is a Jewish funeral home, we learn many traditions specific to Judaism, including that funerals take place just a day or two after death, there is no cremation or embalming, although the body is carefully, lovingly and ritually washed. There is also the practice of the seated shiva, a week-long period of mourning during which friends and family come to visit and pray with the immediate family of the deceased.

Levy also introduces readers to the tradition of leaving a pebble on the gravestone when visiting the cemetery.

While some practices may be specific to Judaism, the spelling of stages of mourning helps demystify death and the traditions around death for all readers.

Perhaps this will make a reader interested in the traditions of their own culture and want to know more about them.

Now more than ever, we need these kinds of books for readers of all ages.

From quilling to DYNAH and seated shiva, “Sorry for Your Loss” fulfills a great need for the mid-level canon.

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