Another book review for you today. This time, it’s The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith — another one through the BlogHer Book Club program. But before I get to the book, I wanted to let you know that there is a delicious cookie recipe coming up tomorrow. It’s peanut buttery and chocolatey and just amazing. So come back for that, emkay?
There’s something about Claire Bidwell Smith, who penned The Rules of Inheritance. This memoir is a gripping look at her life from her tween years until into adulthood. Smith lost both her parents when she was young–Her mother at 18 and her father in her early 20s. They both had cancer, both developed it when she was just a teen and both survived for years before succumbing to it. The experiences of having ailing parents changed her. And her mother’s death sent her life flying in a totally different direction.
Smith loses herself for a long time, finding comfort in a bad relationship and smoking and drinking too much. The girl she was is lost and the woman she will become is slowly shaped through her survival and experiences.
Our life narratives are different, but yet I found elements of my experiences in her story. The smoky jazz bar in New York’s East Village is one I went to as a young college girl again and again. The restaurant she worked at in Union Square is a favorite of mine. The whole New York she describes is one I know — one that still whispers to me to come home.
And her grief. That unspeakable grief with its stages and predictability. I wish I didn’t know it, but I do. Too well.
Smith writes with a tone of familiarity, as if we are her trusted confidants to whom she’s revealing her true self. The story is structured around the five stages of grief and jumps from her teen years to her college years to adulthood and back again in no order. That could be outputting, but it’s not. In this memoir, the jumping around is an unraveling that allows her story to come together and let you know that it’s okay. She will be okay.
Of course, I could do without the occasional repetition that happens as a result, such as recounting her father’s history in a nutshell on more than one occasion. That pushes pause on the story for me — something I don’t need when I am so into it. But I looked past it. You should too.
The Rules of Inheritance is worth reading. It’s an encompassing book that curls up with you and urges you to keep reading through the end, even as the hours tick into the wee morning.
To read more about The Rules of Inheritance, check out the BlogHer Book Club page.
Disclosure: I was provided this book via the BlogHer Book Club and am being compensated for my review. All opinions are my own.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.