Exploring The Messy Process of Grief

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Kendra Winchester is a Contributing Editor for Book Riot where she writes about audiobooks and disability literature. She is also the Founder of Read Appalachia, which celebrates Appalachian literature and writing. Previously, Kendra co-founded and served as Executive Director for Reading Women, a podcast that gained an international following over its six-season run. In her off hours, you can find her writing on her Substack, Winchester Ave, and posting photos of her Corgis on Instagram and Twitter @kdwinchester.

Welcome to Read this Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that needs to jump onto your TBR pile! Sometimes these books are brand new releases that I don’t want you to miss, while others are some of my backlist favorites. This week, I’m featuring a recent release about an author’s experience of grief after she loses her best friend.

a graphic of the cover of Grief Is for People by Sloane Crosley

Grief Is for People by Sloane Crosley

Sloane Crosley met her best friend Russell when he hired her to work as a publicist for a well-known paperback imprint at a major publishing house. At first, their relationship was awkward — strange, even. But eventually, Russell became her best friend. Sloane remembers how she would visit Russell and his partner at their country house outside the city. She remembers long, boozy lunches full of office gossip and scandal. But when Russell dies by suicide, her whole life feels like it’s been turned upside down.

Around the same time Russell dies, Crosley’s apartment is broken into, and several expensive pieces of jewelry are stolen. She somehow feels that if she finds a way to recover at least some of the jewelry, she’ll be okay. These two events — Russell’s death and the robbery — become inextricably twisted together in Crosley’s mind, impacting the way she grieves for her friend.

Crosley’s grief doesn’t make sense to her. She keeps pausing, wondering if this is how she should be feeling. She keeps asking, how do you process a friend’s death when they were the one who chose to end their life? Why does she care about jewelry that she didn’t even really like anyway? Why does everything in her life feel so wrong now?

Crosley lays out her messy grief process on the page. She doesn’t have all of the answers. She’s not even going to pretend to. Instead, she’s honest about the ups and downs of grief, the highs and the lows of it. Crosley structures her book around the stages of grief, but if anything, her memoir proves that the process of grief is never that straightforward.

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