By Roger Rosenblatt
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780061825934, 176pp.)
Publication Date: March 2010
"How long are you staying, Boppo?"
When his daughter, Amya gifted doctor, mother, and wifecollapses and dies from an asymptomatic heart condition, Roger Rosenblatt and his wife, Ginny, leave their home on the South Shore of Long Island to move in with their son-in-law, Harris, and their three young grandchildren: six-year-old Jessica, four-year-old Sammy, and one-year-old James, known as Bubbies. Long past the years of diapers, homework, and recitals, Roger and GinnyBoppo and Mimi to the kidsquickly reaccustom themselves to the world of small children: bedtime stories, talking toys, playdates, nonstop questions, and nonsequential thought. Though reeling from Amy's death they carry on, reconstructing a family, sustaining one another, and guiding three lively, alert, and tender-hearted children through the pains and confusions of grief. As he marvels at the strength of his son-in-law, a surgeon, and the tenacity and skill of his wife, a former kindergarten teacher, Roger attends each day to "the one household duty I have mastered"preparing the morning toast perfectly to each child's liking.
With the wit, heart, precision, and depth of understanding that has characterized his work, Roger Rosenblatt peels back the layers on this most personal of losses to create both a tribute to his late daughter and a testament to familial love. The day Amy died, Harris told Ginny and Roger, "It's impossible." Roger's story tells how a family makes the possible of the impossible.
Roger Rosenblatt's essays for Time magazine and PBS have won two George Polk Awards, the Peabody, and the Emmy. He is the author of six Off-Broadway plays and fourteen books, including his guide to the art and craft of writing, Unless It Moves the Human Heart, and the national bestsellers Lapham Rising, Rules for Aging, and Children of War, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is currently the Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University.
After his daughter — a 38-year-old pediatrician with three children of her own — died of a rare heart defect, Roger Rosenblatt and his wife, Ginny, moved in with their son-in-law to help raise their grandchildren. His new book, Making Toast, is his account of the hurt — and humor — that followed. More at NPR.org
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“[A] piercing account of broken hearts [that] records how love, hurt, and responsibility can, through antic wit and tenderness, turn a shattered household into a luminous new-made family.”
“Written so forthrightly, but so delicately, that you feel you’re a part of this family... How lucky some of us are to see clearly what needs to be done, even in the saddest, most life-altering circumstances.”
“[An] exquisite, restrained little memoir filled with both hurt and humor.”
-NPR's All Things Considered
“Rosenblatt…sets a perfect tone and finds the right words to describe how his family is coming with their grief… It may seem odd to call a book about such a tragic event charming, but it is. There is indeed life-after death, and Rosenblatt proves that without a doubt.”
“A must read for all....By no means treacly with sentiment, the book takes us through the ordinary along with the extra-ordinary events in the life of this family as they struggle to regain their center and go on with their lives.
“Rosenblatt avoids the sentimentality that might have weighed down [Making Toast]; he writes with humor and an engagement with life that makes the occasional flashes of grief all the more telling. The result is a beautiful account of human loss, measured by the steady effort to fill in the void.
-Christian Science Monitor
“Sad but somehow triumphant, this memoir is a celebration of family, and of how, even in the deepest sorrow, we can discover new links of love and the will to go on.”
-O, The Oprah Magazine
“There are circumstances in which prose is poetry, and the unornamented candor of Rosenblatt’s writing slowly attains to a sober sort of lyricism...This is more than just a moving book. It is also a useful book....[Rosenblatt’s] toast is buttered with wisdom. ”
-Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic
“[A] gem of a memoir... sad, funny, brave and luminous....[a] rare and generous book.”
-Los Angeles Times
“[MAKING TOAST] is about coping with grief, caring for children and creating an ad hoc family for as long as this particular configuration is required, but mostly it’s a textbook on what constitutes perfect writing and how to be a class act.”
-Carolyn See, The Washington Post
“A painfully beautiful memoir telling how grandparents are made over into parents, how people die out of order, how time goes backwards. Written with such restraint as to be both heartbreaking and instructive.”
Roger Rosenblatt means, I believe, to teach patience, love, a fondness for the quotidian, and a deftness for saving the lost moment—when faced with lacerating loss. These are brilliant lessons, fiercely-learned. But Rosenblatt comes to them and to us—suitably—with immense humility.
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