Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Beginner's Goodbye-Anne Tyler

The Beginner's Goodbye

Anne Tyler

Knopf, Apr 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307957276

Thirty something Aaron works at the family publishing firm that prints the Beginners self-help series. He is happily mattered to older Dorothy, a doctor whom he met when she was working on a medical book published by his company. Aaron believes life is good in spite of a useless arm and leg until a tree crashes into their home killing Dorothy. The widower struggles with his grief.

Aaron moves back into the house he grew up in that sister Nandina owns in Baltimore. He begins seeing and hearing Dorothy’s ghost though he knows that is probably a PTSD defense mechanism for him to deny she has moved on; he also realizes his perfect view of their marriage ignored cracks. Burying himself in his work, Aaron realizes the guidebooks on moving on in life are generalities as grief is customized.

This is an engaging character study of a man who struggles with loss until he begins to understand that the whole (of one’s essence) equals the sum of all the parts (including the onetime microscopic). Complex as the audience learns much about Aaron, Dorothy and their marriage, as love does not denote happiness and camaraderie, as it can be destructive as well as constructive. Aaron’s surreal path to enlightenment never quite gels as he seems more childlike rather than a thirty-six year old widower mourning the tragic death of his wife. Still readers will enjoy The Beginner’s Guide to coping with grief.

Harriet Klausner

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