Dear readers, I am so fortunate to have a guest post from author Shannon Lee Alexander today. Knowing what I did about this novel and its companion I asked if she would write about 5 books that helped her cope with grief and/or loss. Please welcome Shannon and be sure and pick up a copy of Life After Juliet today! -- Rhi
There are many kinds of grief and all different types of loss in our lives. Both LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES and LIFE AFTER JULIET were fueled by a great loss in my life and my need to make sense of it. Before writing away my grief, I read to try to better understand how it is that we live in a world both great and terrible. Throughout my life, these are five books that have helped me grow and cope with loss of all kinds.1. CHARLOTTE’S WEB – One of the first books I ever encountered that forced me to learn about grief was E.B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB. I still try not to smash spiders, even thirty years after reading this book!2. BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS – I’ve grouped these two classic children’s stories together because I remember reading them at about the same time. Katherine Patterson’s BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and Wilson Rawls’s WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS were the first two books I remember crying over—and by crying I mean sobbing uncontrollably! Through them I learned about friendship and love and loyalty, and about letting go, too.3. THE VELVETEEN RABBIT – I’ve always had a soft spot for Margery Williams’s story about a stuffed bunny who is made real by the power of love. I myself had a stuffed bunny growing up (still keep him in my office on my bookshelf, actually). But I didn’t realize what the story meant to me until I had a child of my own with a stuffed bunny of her own. My own childhood was officially over. And that was something I suddenly felt a need to grieve. But that same nursery magic that made the Velveteen Rabbit real all those years ago, was still working to make me into something much more than I’d ever been before—a mother. No matter what happens, how fast my children grow, or where they end up, I’ll always be their mother, just as The Velveteen Rabbit’s heart would always belong to the boy. Sometimes, on the other side of loss, we find beauty.4. THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – After finishing J.K. Rowling’s beautiful series, having read each book as it was first released, which sometimes meant waiting years between instalments, when I finally turned the last page of the last book, I was consumed with loss. It was the end of a long and wonderful journey in my life, one that had reawakened my love for books for young people.5. A MONSTER CALLS – I’m a huge Patrick Ness fan, both his writing and his persona in interviews and on social media. When he was entrusted with Siobhan Dowd’s idea for a story about a boy whose mother had cancer, he created the powerful (and for me Earth shattering) story A MONSTER CALLS. I became forever indebted to him after reading this book. I won’t go into details so as not to spoil anything, but the boy is visited by a monster who demands the boy tell the truth, a deep and frightening truth. Let me just say, I was stunned and shaken to discover that Conor’s truth was one I shared, and I bet many who have watched loved ones fight hideous diseases would know this same truth, too.Honorable mentions: Most of the books on this list are many years old now (some of them are many, many, many years old), so I’d like to add two newer books that have recently helped me understand new and beautiful things about grief and loss.Middle grade readers should check out THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH by Ali Benjamin. This story about a girl determined to find the exact cause of her friend’s accidental drowning is as beautiful as the delicate jellies it describes.Young adults (and adults cool enough to read YA) should read Jeff Zentner’s THE SERPENT KING. I may have (definitely) cried over the pages of this beautiful story about three brave friends seeking their futures.
About LIFE AFTER JULIET: