Cottage Country Reflections (Jennifer A. Jilks) – This was an intriguing book. Tomorrow Comes gave me some difficulty at first. It is a young adult (YA) novel. The horror and the angst of losing a child kept haunting me as a parent and an adult reader. Since the author, Donna Mebane, based the novel on the sudden loss of her own daughter Emma, I kept being of two minds. Firstly, she is giving intimate insight into the psyche of her grieving family. I felt, at first, like a voyeur. I read about half, then picked it up a few days later. The point of view of the grief experienced by family members, friends, and the community, shapes each chapter. Her insight into the grief experienced by each felt, at first, as if I was watching the media as they search the crowds for ‘the crier’, the close-ups as they zoom in to capture tears. That made a difference, as I anticipated this review. I changed my perspective from that of a parent, to that of a teen, searching for comfort. Facing death can lead a young person into maturity or abject despair.
I read it to the end, on a cold, rainy, yucky pseudowinter day. It warmed me, as I tried to change my mindset: what could I learn from this book? While any book, any journaling around grief, death and dying, helps the writer, this book could be comforting to young people. We know how much kids are affected by the death of someone their own age. Kids, at risk for depression, can engage in self-harm. This book helps those searching for answers.
Whenever a student in my classroom lost a grandparent, I would grab a picture book, often loaning it to the family. There are many that deal with death and dying. I would use these to promote discussion and open up the classroom community to sharing their needs, fears, hopes and beliefs. It doesn’t matter what we believe. It does help to share the grief. The activities need not be limited to elementary students.
The novel, written with the support of the author’s adult child, illuminated the grieving process for modern day teenagers who create Community through Facebook, technology, and other social media. I have found that when my late mother wants to communicate with us –she sends smells (pine needles or cleaning products) to my husband. This is ironic, since mom had lost her sense of smell from a childhood disease, and hubby (my 2nd husband), knew her for such a short time.
It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, how can we prove one another wrong? This book would give the parent of a grieving child hope, and a point from which conversations could take place. It is important to open up our minds. It is important to move through grief, mourning and bereavement, towards a place where life goes on. The hardest task of a grieving parent with more than one child, is remembering to honour the child who still lives.
Please see Ms. Jilks’ original posting of this Tomorrow Comes review on her blog at Cottage Country Reflections.