• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of This Shining Life by Harriet Kline

Kline's poignant, lovely book explores a family's emotional missteps and enduring love after a painful loss, and their hard-fought resolutions and tentative steps forward.

Young Ollie finds people confusing. They don't always say what they mean, and lately they're often crying.

Harriet Kline's This Shining Life tracks Ollie's attempts to make sense of things after his father Rich's death from cancer; it follows his mother Ruth's adjustment to life without her free-spirited, joy-filled partner; and it tracks the grief and the resulting shifts within their close-knit extended family.

Rich left small gifts to his loved ones, and Ollie becomes convinced that if he searches hard enough for meaning in these items, he'll uncover essential clues about the meaning of life and be able to understand what happened to his father.

It's heartbreaking to witness various family members' attempts to do what they think is best for themselves and for others, often misreading what's needed or wanted. The examinations of mortality and of love and of living life fully are poignant and lovely, and the last ten percent of this book is so beautiful, it brought me to tears.

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I received a prepublication digital copy of this book courtesy of Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley.

This is Harriet Kline's first book.