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How to Survive the Worst That Can Happen: A Parent's Step by Step Guide to Healing After the Loss of a Child
By: Sandy Peckinpah
Publication Date: February 2014
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 24, 2014
Admittedly, Sandy was “caught up in the magic of fairy tales” and walked not only the literal Red Carpet with her husband, David, but also that of motherhood. As a mother she was a star among four beautiful, shining ones in her life, Garrett, Trevor, Julianne, and one-year-old, Jackson. Although there were whimsical and fleeting hopes that David would one day write a script that would launch the family into a real fairy tale existence, the day-to-day reminders like bills brought Sandy Peckinpah down to earth. A growing family couldn’t be fed on dreams and things like philosophical musings were best left to others.
Any dreams that Sandy may have had for a star-studded existence would soon be shattered. "Lots of fluids and ibuprofen to keep his fever down," the doctor ordered. "He should be better in a few days." Yes, as mothers we’ve all heard that before. Add a cool compress and a dollop of loving care and call the doctor in the morning. Instead, Garrett’s heart stopped suddenly during the night. A virulent case of undiagnosed bacterial meningitis shattered the family into a million pieces and a young soul had flown into the universe, never to return again. Sandy’s fairy tale existence had turned into a nightmare, one in which her child would be “16 years, three months, and ten days ... forever.” Life would never, ever, be the same and the entire family was thrown into a deep abyss from which there seemed to be no return."
“You wake up in the morning,” Sandy later claimed, “and for a brief moment, you believe your loss was a terrible dream, and then it hits you.” There was no going back and the shift into the reality of Garrett’s death was staring her in the face. There were her other children to love and cherish, and the needs of young Jackson couldn’t be put on the back burner while she grieved. Yes, Sandy would go through Elizabeth Kübler Ross’s five stages of grieving, but would need to add one to the list ... resilience. The “haze of emotions” was overwhelming, yet there was a wealth of support around her, although she may not have recognized it at the time. There was her best friend, Melissa Gilbert, Paula, her “angel in the night,” and others who stepped forward to surround the Peckinpah family with a cocoon of love.
Sandy’s greatest gift to Garrett would begin one word at a time. She began to write, to move forward, and would eventually teach others how to do so as well. “No, you never forget,” she later explained. “You never get over it. You just learn how to live with it.” In this subtly soothing book, she explains how she taught herself to do just that and helps others via “Stepping Stones.” Sandy explains everything from planning the service to those first steps of recovery to the ultimate end ... healing. For those who are suddenly faced with a journey toward recovery they don’t wish to contemplate after the loss of a child, this book will be an immense comfort. How to Survive the Worst That Can Happen is not only a tribute to her own child, but one for every parent who has lost theirs. This book is a powerful, thought provoking, and singularly stunning guide to recovery.
Quill says: If you, or someone you know has lost a child, there’s no better gift you can give than a way to survive and flourish. In Sandy Peckinpah’s book, you will learn how you can heal and eventually bring joy back into your life.
By: Fadi Hattendorf
Publication Date: November 2013
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: April 21, 2014
Having children is an amazing thing and many women want to experience this with all of their heart. Unfortunately, sometimes nature does not allow this experience for some women and if their desire for a child is strong enough they will look for other means of having children. That is just what this book shows as three unconventional families find out that they have more in common than they ever thought when the past is revealed to all of them. Choices that one generation made ultimately affected the next generation in how they viewed who they were and where they came from. For some, the news that they were created from completely unknown DNA was extremely hard to take and it changed forever the way they saw their own lives and everyone else they came in contact with. It was hard to shake the fact that now every person they saw could possibly be related to them in some way and they would never know it.
For Mana, knowing that her mother decided to use a sperm donor to have a child caused her intense confusion as she felt empty, incomplete, and a little lost. Even though her mother married after giving birth to her and she had a life full of support and love, there was no shaking the thought that she might have half siblings passing her by in the street. Eventually Mana is able to put these thoughts behind her and finds love in a man named Kalak who she has two sons with. Everything is going wonderful until Kalak learns from his mother that his birth was also the result of anonymous sperm donation. Mana and Kalak’s perfect world suddenly comes crashing down as each realizes that there is a slight possibility that they could be related! Will this information tear apart what they have built even though none of it was their choice?
The direction that Fadi Hattendorf presented this book in was something I did not expect but ended up finding very interesting. Some background information was given about the parents' choices to find other reproductive options but the main focus was on how these decisions affected the lives of their children. Using this view made the writing intriguing for me and it brought up the possible negative consequences of using alternative reproductive options that I had never thought about before. I do not have children of my own so I thought that it might be difficult for me to relate to this story. However, because the perspective of the children was highlighted, I found it quite easy to relate to and enjoyed seeing these different views. Hattendorf does a great job of connecting each of the families in the story and this keeps the reader hooked waiting for the next set of clues that will reveal how each person is connected. I was pleasantly surprised to find that An Evolving Society was not all filled with facts and figures but took a closer look at the emotional reactions of every person that is affected.
Quill says: This is a uniquely written story that keeps the reader thinking all the way through to the end.
Nothing Like A Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater
By: Eddie Shapiro
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: February 2014
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: April 19, 2014
From Carol Channing to Chita Rivera, Sutton Foster to Patti Lupone, there are so many of the “GREATS” of musical theater in this book, fantastic stars who bear their souls, that you won't want to miss a page. If you want an insider’s view of life on stage, buy this book!
Nothing Like A Dame includes interviews with 21 luminaries of Broadway, all chosen by the author who had a strict criterion he wanted to follow. “...all had to have devoted the majority of their careers to the theater: no one who started in theater but moved on ... no stars from other media who visit Broadway...” (pg. xi). The selection of stars is fantastic and as soon as I received this book, I dived right in, heading straight for number one on my personal favorite list, Angela Lansbury.
Rather than write a book that reads like a biography with a few juicy quotes sprinkled in for good measure, the author chose to use a straightforward interview format. There is a brief, one-page synopsis of each star’s career prior to the interview, but then it’s “game on!” and the fun starts. The author, Eddie Shapiro, is a die-hard Broadway fan, who has seen over 1200 Broadway performances and happily admits, “I saw everything, and I loved it all. Even the stuff I hated, I loved.” (pg. xi) His passion and understanding of the theater shows in his knowledgeable, probing questions and as each interview progresses, more intimate confessions and fascinating facts are brought to the surface.
Each interview has the air of two friends sitting down on a couch for a casual chat, a moment to reflect on a career, and all the ups and downs that entails. While Shapiro undoubtedly had a series of questions he wanted to ask each artist, the talks sometimes go wonderfully off tangent, as he follows his artists’ stories to unexpected places. For example, Angela Lansbury tells us about Sweeney Todd and how Stephen Sondheim played “The Worst Pies in London” and “...I thought it was so damned funny. It just killed me ... He kept slapping the piano for the dough. He kept getting the lyrics all mixed up. I was immediately terribly interested…” (pg. 86) while Kristin Chenoweth admits how shy she is, “...shy around celebrities. When I met Madonna my manager said, “She really wants to meet you,” but I barely said a thing. I’m a weirdo.” (pg. 284) There are so many great lines in this book, that I could go on quoting them forever ... but I won't. You'll just have to read the book yourself to get lost in the lives of these amazing women.
You’ll laugh, cry and come away with a lot of respect for the hard yet incredible lives these Ladies of Broadway have lived. This book is a definite keeper and I for one, am going to put it on my special bookshelf where all my favorite books live.
Quill says: If you’re a fan of musical theater, you have got to get a copy of Nothing Like A Dame!