By February 22, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Making Toast: A Memoir about Loss, Love and Family

It is impossible to read Roger Rosenblatt’s memoir Making Toast: A Family Story without crying at least once. Rosenblatt, known to many for his work with PBS and Time, faced the toughest experience any parent can face when his middle child, his daughter Amy, died suddenly at the age of 38, leaving a husband and three children.

So Rosenblatt, known to his grandchildren as Boppo, and his wife Ginny, known as Mimi, leave their 5-bedroom house on Long Island to live in a bedroom in the house of their son-in-law Harris in Bethesda, Maryland to help care for their three motherless grandchildren. Rosenblatt chronicles the first months and years as the whole family learns to live with Amy’s loss.

Carl, John and I had stood together on the deck in Bethesda the day after Amy died, and wept. Arms around one another, we formed a circle, like skydivers, our garments flapping in the wind. I could not recall seeing either one of them cry since they were very young. I am not sure they had ever seen me cry, except on sentimental occasions. John’s tears came to rest on his cheeks. He looks a lot like Carl, but his features are sharper. He is dryly funny, like his sister, but his wit is proactive. He has an ear for cultural bullshit, and mimics cliches in a sonorous, mock-serious voice. Ginny and I rely on him for assessments of current movies. Like Carl, he is gracious with others. Like Carl, too, he is zealous about sports and will threaten to annihilate the TV screen whenever there’s a bad call or a bonehead play. The two brothers are very close, as they were with Amy. She was nearly three years younger than Carl and nine years older than John, and her force of character seemed to civilize the two of them. The trouble with close familu is that it suffers closely, too. I stood with my two sons in the cold and put my arms round them, feeling the shoulders of men.

When I read that line about close families suffering closely, too, I knew that I had to keep reading. It can be hard to read about all that Rosenblatt shares, about the lonely fraternity of parents whose children die too young. But Rosenblatt also spends a lot of time, in addition to honoring the memory of Amy, sharing the details of his and his wife’s lives with their grandchildren and the details of their childhood make the book all the more bittersweet.

If you’re looking for moving memoirs about loving families to discuss, try Roger Rosenblatt’s Making Toast.

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

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