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Claire Bidwell Smith, a fourteen-year-old only child, learns that both her parents have cancer. The fear of becoming a family of one compels her to make a series of fraught choices, set against the glittering backdrop of New York and Los Angeles—and the pall of regret.
When the inevitable happens and Claire is alone in the world, she is inconsolable at the revelation that suddenly she is no one’s special person. It is only later, when Claire falls in love, marries and becomes a mother, that she emerges from the fog of grief.
Using the five stages of grief as a window onto her personal experience, Claire Bidwell Smith has written a powerful memoir that is at once exquisite and profound.
‘The Rules of Inheritance serves as a reminder that we are not only capable of descending to the depths of human experience, but that we can rise back up again. It’s a great book.’
‘The clarity of her self-reflection is exquisite and excruciating. There is a passionate sadness to her grief but the feeling of absolute aloneness is the hardest to bear. …She understands the power of the pause: sometimes what is left unsaid can be more powerful than what is spoken. Her prose is direct, considered, elegant. She flouts the rules of punctuation but in doing so removes a final barrier between word and reader.’
‘[Bidwell Smith’s] journey to where she feels able to move past the suffering and towards a future of hope is one of the most honest and wrenching memoirs I have read. Not only did she make me cry – repeatedly – but her writing style, engaging and immediate, flows seamlessly from emotionally raw to the warmth of literary hot milk.’
‘This is honest, sincere writing, steadfastly attempting to get at the truth of conflicted feelings and chart a clear passage through them.’
‘Where The Rules of Inheritance really succeeds is in portraying how messy and complicated the grieving process really is, how even though you may be able to identify the five stages of grief there is no way of tracking where each stage begins or how long it will last. There are no “rules”, not really. Bidwell Smith shows how it is entirely possible to experience all five stages at once, overlapping constantly and repeating in cycles…It is a study of loss and heartache from someone who has sunk down into the darkest depths of despair of loneliness and managed to come out the other side, tempered by suffering and stronger for it. Ultimately, this is a very uplifting and inspirational read.‘ Read the full review here.
‘Offers an uplifting note of hope and transformation.’
‘Funny, honest and wise, with the raw truth at its heart.’
‘Claire Bidwell Smith turns the loss of her mother and father into a universal experience.’
‘It is the authenticity of the author’s personal journey that will have you hooked….Claire is still very much an adolescent steering a rocky path through broken romances and big-city life. She makes mistakes all the time and with each one we feel her pain acutely, willing her to make it through.’
‘Death is one of life’s certainties, so it’s a book we should all read.’ (4 starred review)