Sometimes, It's All About the Angst

Sometimes, you just need a book to rip your heart out. There’s something cathartic in a beautifully-written book that expresses our darkest parental nightmares, something that teaches us that people can survive the worst and heal and live again. For me, such books as At Risk, by Alice Hoffman, The Deep End of the Ocean, by Jacquelyn Mitchard, and Ordinary People, by Judith Guest, filled such a need. And now fellow Girlfriends Cyber Circuit member Judy Merrill Larsen has come along with a devastating but beautiful debut called All the Numbers, with promises to break our hearts anew.

A high school English teacher with five children of her own, Larsen brings an authenticity to parental loss. Target hailed the book as its “Breakout Debut” in September 2006. Booklist calls it “compelling” and adds: “Larsen depicts a mother’s year of grief and recovery with a sure and honest voice.” But it’s Hillary Williams of Bookloons who really says it all: “Keep a box of tissues nearby while reading All the Numbers, as dry eyes are impossible. Readers will feel for Ellen, cheer her on, and silently applaud the wise and compassionate decisions she finally makes. . . . . All the Numbers is a quick but gripping summer read, both incredibly sad and very satisfying.”

I know there are readers out there who prefer to stick to “happy pill” novels, and I agree that there’s a time and place for them. But for those who like to experience the full range of human emotion, from tragedy to triumph, I recommend that you pick up a copy of the well-written debut.


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