Fiction, Illness, NetGalley, Women's

Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein It's got it all - love and joy, sorrow and pain

This blog post has been eaten up by the evil server-killing monsters on the unfortunate day of Jan 24th, when my blog has been offline for *gasp!* around 24 hours for the first time. I am reconstructing it through my GR review (which is thankfully almost the same, cause it was that one time I decided to be lazy and keep them that way), backdating the post, and… learning to download a copy of my WordPress every time I post now. Sorry if your comments were eaten by the little boogeyman. I am disappointed too.

So, let’s begin…

Question. Can books about single-motherhood, cancer and even mortality be funny? Enjoyable?

Answer. Dang, YES.So with that said, you might have a better idea already about how I felt about this book.

Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein

★★★★✮ 4.5 stars

Let’s start with what it’s about. Our Short History is about Karen, a single mother, who is (unfortunately) dying of cancer, but despite that, trying to build the best possible future for her kid, Jakey, as well as trying not to lose hope during this last span of time she still has with him. But, although she seems to be handling everything quite well, even the terrible physical ordeal she has to endure constantly, there’s just this one thing that won’t leave her alone. It’s the fact that Jake wants to know his father. Because Jake’s father was a stupid ass, pardon me, who said he didn’t want the baby and then never contacted Karen again. And Jake thinks he loves him. You can’t blame the boy – he’s only 6. Every little boy wants a father.

So Karen is faced with the decision to either let it happen, or not. The whole book is about this decision, although it’s also about Karen’s battle with her health problems, her own ego, as well as her job and how important working can be to a sick individual. It’s about all those things, but still, mostly – it’s about giving her son up. Knowing she will leave him. Knowing his growing up will be out of her control. And also letting go and forgiving that damn ass for being an ass in the first place (sorry again, I might be biased here). And no – this is no romantic story. There will be no happy reunion or sappy love stuff (thank goodness). This is about human relationships, parents and children, about realizing what’s best for your child.

And – despite the sad topic – this is not a sad book. It’s not a depressing one either. You will find everything in this book – from joy to laughter, to plain humor, as well as heartbreak, pain and anger. It’s so all over the scale, it ends up making you feel like you’re seeing it live, or at least a movie. Such a lifelike book! Which is possibly why I enjoyed it so much.

Reasons why I recommend this book:

✮ The reality of suffering cancer in a non-scary, approachable, humane way;
✮ Issue of broken families, written about without taking sides – very objectively;
✮ Showing how people with terminal illness can be and are still a valid, working part of society;
✮ It’s quite emotional, but not in a sappy way at all;
✮ I absolutely loved the narrator! (Karen herself). She’s an extremely reliable narrator, honest, never hides anything from the reader;
✮ Point one was about the reality of a cancer sufferer, but I can not stress this enough how we should read more books about people like this and learn more about their lives.

So that’s my opinion. I truly do recommend it. It’s really worth your time – I know it was worth mine. And for a GIF sum-up: