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Book Review: 'The Year of Magical Thinking', Joan Didion

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Some books change us in the most intimate and personal ways. We read it and then our vision of the world is changed. With this book, The Year of Magical Thinking, I have not only learned how to accept some heavy things, but I have also changed my vision on some others. Joan Didion is known for being a very famous journalist but also an amazing novelist. Her oeuvre is considered as major for the American literature, and reading her we can only agree. She is one of a kind, and gathered all her knowledges and backgrounds, from academy to journalism, to produce very peculiar novels. I was not very familiar with her writing, but I heard so many good things that I decided to purchase The Year of Magical Thinking. Before reading this book, I knew its author as the legend everybody talks about, I didn't know about the woman who had to go through so many hard times. This book tells a very personal and sad story, the death of her beloved husband. She does not simply tells us about his death, but she tries to understand, as she is writing, how to accept his death. Her book is not just a story about mourning, it is a guide to how to get through that. Her peculiar style, mixing novel, journalistic writing and scientific studies (in which she tries to find answers to her husband's death,  but also her daughter's heart issues, who will sadly pass away too soon) results in a book almost impossible to describe. All the way long death is present, but not once I have cried. Because it was not the goal of this novel. Didion didn't want us to feel pity, she wanted to tell us that it was ok to cling to old sweaters and shoes. She wanted to tell us that it is normal to feel like he is still here. That it is ok to do not accept such a sudden death. That it is part of it to cling to the past, to have everything reminding us of him. This book definitely helped her going through this. But this book is also here to help anyone who has lost his or her loved one. It is a recipe to how to live again without him, without her. I haven't cried while reading it, but when I think again about this novel, when I think again about her words, about this story, I find it hard to hold my tears. One of the most magical book ever written on mourning and getting through the loss of your only true love. 



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