Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tolson 4 TEARS Reviews "In Her Wake"

Nancy Rappaport was four years old when her mother committed suicide in 1963. The question anyone asks of someone who has taken his/her own life is “why?” Why would a mother of six take her own life? After years of not speaking about their mother’s death, Nancy takes on the task of talking to her siblings to determine the answer to the question “why?” Nancy’s children want to know about their deceased grandmother. A saga of generations of complexities evolves that reads like an unsolved mystery.
What would make a mother who seemed to “have it all” kill herself? Nancy relies on interviews, articles, and photographs to discover the woman behind the self-destruction. Nancy reads between the lines of court documents and personal diaries to reveal decades of secrets, and she narrates the unfolding story like an emotionally charged archeology expedition.
Nancy carefully constructs the story of a life, death, and the aftermath with continuity, clarity, and originality. This is a book well-written within the confines of tough subject matter, and without the full approval of her family members. Nancy unearths the conflicts within a prominent family, as well as the details of custody battles and financial settlements. She faces the differing perspectives and memories of her family members regarding the same events. These are challenges for anyone seeking the truth.
It seems fitting that Nancy chose to be a child psychiatrist. She includes relevant cases in the book, weaving her past with their present, their personal with her profession. There is no cover of denial, and no evidence of self-pity. Her purpose must be to help others who have lost someone to face reality.
In Her Wake is recommended to anyone trying to understand a variety of aspects of suicide. It’s also recommended as an example of the work it takes to develop a sense of self in the wake of suicide.

(My father committed suicide when I was 19. He left no note; just a mess of emotional debris. I attempted suicide for the last time when I was 25. After taking 300 pills, I had to be resuscitated. I was left with psychological wreckage, and I'm still picking up the pieces. LCT)

Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson
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