Quand on n’a rien perdu – The Year of Magical Thinking Goodread’s review

The Year of Magical ThinkingThe Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe 3.5. It’s Goodreads fault… 🙂

Okay, I might sound ungrateful, shallow, a brat, insert english words my francophone self would not think of…. but I can’t say I fell in love with this book, as I expected. I expected to be deeply moved, and I was, but also kept a proper emotional distance with Didion’s emotional journey captured in The Year of Magical Thinking.

Just like the small number of deaths I have witnessed in my life, the end of this book was painful, redundant, never ending, but obviously she didn’t write this essay on grief to please me, or readers in general. I have never actually grieved, and in this instance I am very fortunate. People around me who have passed away never had this quality of pillars in my life, people without whom I couldn’t see myself. My reaction to this book is exactly the one from someone who has never gone through this and pushes people to overcome it, and as she points out at the beginning of chapter 17 (quote below), someone who will never know what to expect, as everyone else, never quite prepared.

I can understand I’m just not ready for this book. She writes beautifully. Even though she talks about death, religion, afterlife and all that, do not appear as main characters of this essay, which I appreciated. I could, eventually, connect with her, on an emotional level. For now, this collection of bite-size life stories, philosophical reflection and recollections of daily, on-going routines felt very disconnected, and therefore I disconnected for the last 50 pages.

I will open a little drawer in my mind and insert this essay for future reference, for a time when I will call myself fortunate anymore. It is a dreadful thought, but it will surely happen.

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe their husband is about to return and need his shoes.”
― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

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