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Claire Bidwell Smith -- an only child -- was just fourteen years old when both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. "I've already come to the conclusion that I will probably be parentless by the time I am thirty," Claire writes in her powerful debut. As her mother begins to succumb during Claire's first year of college, Claire hurtles towar Claire Bidwell Smith -- an only child -- was just fourteen years old when both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. "I've already come to the conclusion that I will probably be parentless by the time I am thirty," Claire writes in her powerful debut. As her mother begins to succumb during Claire's first year of college, Claire hurtles towards loss. She throws herself into the arms of anything she thinks might hold her up: boys, alcohol, traveling, and the anonymity of cities like New York and Los Angeles. Her every choice carries the weight of a young woman's world, and it feels like a solitary place. Words -- books, diaries, letters, family stories -- become Claire's true companions, and provide a glimpse of the future, however foreign. In New York, she studies writing and learns the ways of the world, falling in and out of love with a troubled young man, all the while grappling not only with her own lonelieness and regret but that of her aging father. She joins him in Los Angeles as a novice journalist, and records one last thrilling entry in their nuclear family history in the fields of Eastern Europe in search of his World War II past. When it is time to say good-bye, once more the fragility of life astonishes. Defying a conventional framework, this memoir is told in nonlinear fashion, using the five stages of grief as a window into Claire's experience, at once heartbreaking and uplifting. "Why would anyone want to walk into pain?" Claire asks. "But when I did, I found that it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would." Each step brings her closer to finding the meaning of the rules of inheritance, and how they will shape her future -- as a woman, as a wife, as a mother. As in the very best personal writing, Claire's superbly resonant words render the personal universal.


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Claire Bidwell Smith -- an only child -- was just fourteen years old when both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. "I've already come to the conclusion that I will probably be parentless by the time I am thirty," Claire writes in her powerful debut. As her mother begins to succumb during Claire's first year of college, Claire hurtles towar Claire Bidwell Smith -- an only child -- was just fourteen years old when both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. "I've already come to the conclusion that I will probably be parentless by the time I am thirty," Claire writes in her powerful debut. As her mother begins to succumb during Claire's first year of college, Claire hurtles towards loss. She throws herself into the arms of anything she thinks might hold her up: boys, alcohol, traveling, and the anonymity of cities like New York and Los Angeles. Her every choice carries the weight of a young woman's world, and it feels like a solitary place. Words -- books, diaries, letters, family stories -- become Claire's true companions, and provide a glimpse of the future, however foreign. In New York, she studies writing and learns the ways of the world, falling in and out of love with a troubled young man, all the while grappling not only with her own lonelieness and regret but that of her aging father. She joins him in Los Angeles as a novice journalist, and records one last thrilling entry in their nuclear family history in the fields of Eastern Europe in search of his World War II past. When it is time to say good-bye, once more the fragility of life astonishes. Defying a conventional framework, this memoir is told in nonlinear fashion, using the five stages of grief as a window into Claire's experience, at once heartbreaking and uplifting. "Why would anyone want to walk into pain?" Claire asks. "But when I did, I found that it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would." Each step brings her closer to finding the meaning of the rules of inheritance, and how they will shape her future -- as a woman, as a wife, as a mother. As in the very best personal writing, Claire's superbly resonant words render the personal universal.

30 review for The Rules of Inheritance

  1. 4 out of 5

    Antigone

    I'll get brave in a bookstore. Brave in a way I won't online. Brave among strangers I consider companions; purpose-filled, pondering, unknown friends who wander, as I do, in that semi-conscious fugue state of an open literary quest. Brave among those who've momentarily traded looking where they're going for thinking their way through. Brave among actual shelves, reaching for an actual volume, scanning an actual flyleaf. Brave carting around ten pounds of literature in a battered plastic basket; I'll get brave in a bookstore. Brave in a way I won't online. Brave among strangers I consider companions; purpose-filled, pondering, unknown friends who wander, as I do, in that semi-conscious fugue state of an open literary quest. Brave among those who've momentarily traded looking where they're going for thinking their way through. Brave among actual shelves, reaching for an actual volume, scanning an actual flyleaf. Brave carting around ten pounds of literature in a battered plastic basket; the strain of a weight that makes me feel wealthy to the bone. Excited. Encouraged. Future-borne. And, eventually, ambitious. I'll get brave in a bookstore, which is the only explanation for my coming home with this. Claire Bidwell Smith lost both her parents to cancer prior to turning thirty. This is the memoir of an excruciating grief. Brutal. Damaging. Acted out. Relayed in soft staccato bursts of prose; bare pages salted with the briefest of paragraphs casually conveying a nearly incomprehensible pain. She jumps from age to age, stage to stage and back again, in a manner that seems arbitrary but serves to display the gruesome reach of loss over time. Small steps forward, full retreat; the struggle for logic; the ache for wholeness; the temptation to remain in a psychic space where the lost parent might find her, recover her, reassure her it was all some cosmic mistake. This is a short work. It'll take you a minute and a half to complete. Still, it will feel like an eternity. I'm not going to say I liked it. I can't. No one could. But as someone who has experienced a deep and darkly punitive grief, and who has felt alone against that, I will say it's an honest rendering. And in the sense of the most unwanted yet hungered-for companionship, it offers the solace it can.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jmom88

    I wanted to put the book down after the first chapter. Not that it was badly written or hard to read. I wanted to put it down because the pain is palpable even early on in the book. It’s like a huge wave is coming and you can’t see it but you can feel it rumbling and hear it roaring. It’s coming… and there’s no avoiding it. Read my complete review on Found Not Lost I wanted to put the book down after the first chapter. Not that it was badly written or hard to read. I wanted to put it down because the pain is palpable even early on in the book. It’s like a huge wave is coming and you can’t see it but you can feel it rumbling and hear it roaring. It’s coming… and there’s no avoiding it. Read my complete review on Found Not Lost

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amy Armstrong

    **This review is based on a digital galley provided by the publisher via NetGalley.** The only time I regret spending on this book is the time I spent avoiding it. I added it to my NetGalley requests one evening when I was on one of my crazy searches for what could be "the next big thing" and I had to make sure that if it was out there that I could review it. The Rules of Inheritance sounded promising. Claire Bidwell Smith takes us on a cyclic journey through her grieving and healing process. Her **This review is based on a digital galley provided by the publisher via NetGalley.** The only time I regret spending on this book is the time I spent avoiding it. I added it to my NetGalley requests one evening when I was on one of my crazy searches for what could be "the next big thing" and I had to make sure that if it was out there that I could review it. The Rules of Inheritance sounded promising. Claire Bidwell Smith takes us on a cyclic journey through her grieving and healing process. Her parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other while she was still in high school. Within her first year of college, her mother died, and she had no idea how to cope with the void in her life where her mother used to be. The Rules of Inheritance contains so many passages that I want to share, but this passage resonated the strongest with me, "I write her a letter on the one-year anniversary of her dead. Dear Mom, I don't know how to be without you. Please come back." Since Joan Didion's memoirs about the death or her husband, The Year of Magical Thinking followed by the tragic death of her daughter, Blue Nights, it's hard not to compare any memoir with death and dying at its core to hers. However, what kept me reading Smith into the night and through this afternoon was the way her honest and compassionate voice highlights the grief all of us experience not just when we lose someone, but when we change. The hardest person to find when you think you've lost everything is yourself, and going from childhood to adulthood, all of us need to face that challenge. We have to learn how to sit alone with our thoughts; how to stop doing the things that hurt us; how to forgive. We also have to come to terms with our own mortality. As Nietzsche put it, " [W]hen you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." It's hard to watch someone die and scary to even find out someone has passed away not just because we grieve the loss, but because it's a reminder that our own time is limited. I hope that Claire Bidwell Smith continues her work as an author and grief counselor. Everyone should read this book. It's one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mmtimes4

    Claire Bidwell Smith -- an only child -- was just fourteen years old when both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. "I've already come to the conclusion that I will probably be parentless by the time I am thirty," Claire writes in her powerful debut. As her mother begins to succumb during Claire's first year of college, Claire hurtles towards loss. She throws herself into the arms of anything she thinks might hold her up: boys, alcohol, traveling, and the anonymi Claire Bidwell Smith -- an only child -- was just fourteen years old when both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. "I've already come to the conclusion that I will probably be parentless by the time I am thirty," Claire writes in her powerful debut. As her mother begins to succumb during Claire's first year of college, Claire hurtles towards loss. She throws herself into the arms of anything she thinks might hold her up: boys, alcohol, traveling, and the anonymity of cities like New York and Los Angeles. Her every choice carries the weight of a young woman's world, and it feels like a solitary place. Words -- books, diaries, letters, family stories -- become Claire's true companions, and provide a glimpse of the future, however foreign. In New York, she studies writing and learns the ways of the world, falling in and out of love with a troubled young man, all the while grappling not only with her own lonelieness and regret but that of her aging father. She joins him in Los Angeles as a novice journalist, and records one last thrilling entry in their nuclear family history in the fields of Eastern Europe in search of his World War II past. When it is time to say good-bye, once more the fragility of life astonishes. Defying a conventional framework, this memoir is told in nonlinear fashion, using the five stages of grief as a window into Claire's experience, at once heartbreaking and uplifting. "Why would anyone want to walk into pain?" Claire asks. "But when I did, I found that it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would." Each step brings her closer to finding the meaning of the rules of inheritance, and how they will shape her future -- as a woman, as a wife, as a mother. As in the very best personal writing, Claire's superbly resonant words render the personal universal. As I neared the end of this book last night I found myself sobbing as I read her account of spending the last few minutes when her dad as cancer overcame his body. It took me back to that horrible day I experienced as my dad took his last breaths surrendering to cancer. She writes with such truth. It is hard to read as she struggles to find her way and deal with the death of her parents, but she doesn't sugar coat it, but makes it very real. Some might consider this book a bit depressing but good memoirs are fast becoming my favorite genre as I like things to be "real".

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    The last two chapters saved the book for me. While I appreciated her laying bare the complexity and powerful nature of grief, I found her writing style formulaic and simplistic. She often repeats herself and retells the same incident in different chapters, making me wonder if it didn't start as a series of essays rather than a fully formed book. Having read many memoirs, Joan Didion's "Blue Nights" most recently, this one seems amateurish and infantile in comparison. The last two chapters saved the book for me. While I appreciated her laying bare the complexity and powerful nature of grief, I found her writing style formulaic and simplistic. She often repeats herself and retells the same incident in different chapters, making me wonder if it didn't start as a series of essays rather than a fully formed book. Having read many memoirs, Joan Didion's "Blue Nights" most recently, this one seems amateurish and infantile in comparison.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    A really good memoir of Bidwell-Smiths process of loosing and grieving her parents. Of how we are sometimes not able to process what is happening to us, of struggling, and of how we can heal, once the time comes when we are able to face the realities of our life. It is such a relief, when she can be present for her fathers death, after that was not the case with her mothers death. It was beautiful for me to share her memories of a parents dying body. Feeling the body, seeing it, feeling this inte A really good memoir of Bidwell-Smiths process of loosing and grieving her parents. Of how we are sometimes not able to process what is happening to us, of struggling, and of how we can heal, once the time comes when we are able to face the realities of our life. It is such a relief, when she can be present for her fathers death, after that was not the case with her mothers death. It was beautiful for me to share her memories of a parents dying body. Feeling the body, seeing it, feeling this intense presence with the person, being so much there. (I’m maybe talking more about myself.) It is clear that she took her time in writing the book and that she has experience in working with grief professionally. There is nothing hurried or anxious, and no resentment or judgement towards her overwhelmed younger self. The chapters hop back and forth in time and are gathered into five parts under the headings of the five stages of grief — Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. It worked very well for me to have the quotes by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the beginning of each part. For denial it said: “There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.” That gave my reading experience some structure and this nice option of a more focused themed perspective. In addition the quotes really opened up spaces for investigating my own experiences in relation to the book. This might not be an interesting book literarily but it is sincere, thoughtful sharing of experience. And it is valuable to me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Clarke Gunter

    My rating says I "liked" this book, but I didn't like it very much. Perhaps I have read too many memoirs and have just tired of whining women. Lots of whining in this book about her boyfriend, her work, the fact that both of her parents became ill and died (which happened many years before she wrote this book), and everything else in between. However, the thing that annoyed me the most about this book is the fact that it has more one sentence paragraphs than I have ever seen in a book. Page afte My rating says I "liked" this book, but I didn't like it very much. Perhaps I have read too many memoirs and have just tired of whining women. Lots of whining in this book about her boyfriend, her work, the fact that both of her parents became ill and died (which happened many years before she wrote this book), and everything else in between. However, the thing that annoyed me the most about this book is the fact that it has more one sentence paragraphs than I have ever seen in a book. Page after page of one sentence paragraphs throughout the entire book which I found not only annoying, but also odd, as if she couldn't string together several sentences to make a more complete paragraph. Read this book if you want to, but there are far better memoirs out there.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nona

    What a beautifully told memoir of Claire’s love for her parents and the untethered feelings she had following the death of her mother. Her honesty in sharing her behavior and reaction to loss and grief was both raw and touching, as she also began to realize that her closeness to her father would not have occurred without the death of her mother. Her superb writing draws you in to her story and leads you to think about the fragility of life and how the touch and presence of another human can make What a beautifully told memoir of Claire’s love for her parents and the untethered feelings she had following the death of her mother. Her honesty in sharing her behavior and reaction to loss and grief was both raw and touching, as she also began to realize that her closeness to her father would not have occurred without the death of her mother. Her superb writing draws you in to her story and leads you to think about the fragility of life and how the touch and presence of another human can make a difference. I think her words and story will stay with me. Well-crafted and powerful!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Raquel

    As the two star rating indicates, it was ok. Subject matter is heavy and my heart went out to her but eventually it felt overdone.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Travel Writing

    pg. 10 I am silent, marveling at the power we have to unlock a person. _______ I marvel at this story, of such loss and pain, leaving me buoyed with hope and kindness. Claire tells her story of losing both parents before she was 25 in an unflinching voice. She draws me to her unstable and pained young girl self; making every bad decision one can, while surviving unspeakable loss. One chapter in, I was frantically trying to do anything but keep reading, but I could not stop. I just wanted to comfort pg. 10 I am silent, marveling at the power we have to unlock a person. _______ I marvel at this story, of such loss and pain, leaving me buoyed with hope and kindness. Claire tells her story of losing both parents before she was 25 in an unflinching voice. She draws me to her unstable and pained young girl self; making every bad decision one can, while surviving unspeakable loss. One chapter in, I was frantically trying to do anything but keep reading, but I could not stop. I just wanted to comfort Claire. To tell her it would be ok. To somehow stop the train wreck that was happening. Memoirist often struggle (and fail) at telling a their story, not as a 30 year old remembering her 17 year old self, but being a 17 year old making the best decisions possible, even though in retrospect they were the worst. To unapologetically remain true to who you were at younger ages and all the foibles and mistakes of that age is the mark of a powerful writer. Claire is a powerful writer. I wept often, and laughed in understanding. p.94 Grief is like another country, I realize. It is a place. p.106 Grief is like a jealous friend, reminding me that no one else will ever love me as much as it does. p.119 her death leaves me both depleted and emboldened.That's what tragedy does to you...the sadness and the wild freedom.of it all impart a strange durability. p.130 I want to do things to him that I won't know how to do until I am doing them. p.232 I lean my forehead against the cool glass and I know something about life- about how even in the moments when you don't think you are moving forward, you really are.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I found my way to this writer via the Rumpus Letters in the Mail, and then came upon her book by accident in a bookstore. Claire Bidwell Smith's letter talked about courage--in life and writing--and how she sourced that courage from her father's life as an unsung war hero. What stuck with me after reading this book--which is really about how the writer deals with the death of both her parents relatively close together--the storyline about her father, their relationship, and the things he gets (a I found my way to this writer via the Rumpus Letters in the Mail, and then came upon her book by accident in a bookstore. Claire Bidwell Smith's letter talked about courage--in life and writing--and how she sourced that courage from her father's life as an unsung war hero. What stuck with me after reading this book--which is really about how the writer deals with the death of both her parents relatively close together--the storyline about her father, their relationship, and the things he gets (and she helps him get) resolved before his death are what stick with me after putting the book down. I read this book immediately after reading Cheryl Strayed's Wild. Wild is grand. But The Rules of Inheritance--albeit a very different sort of memoir--was more memorable for me. Rawer. Less controlled. Closer to the bone. The author is much harder on herself then on the people she writes about, which is how it should be when it comes to memoir.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Keener

    An extraordinary memoir about love and life I read this beautiful, powerful memoir in half a day; unable to stop, devouring Claire's gorgeous words and sentences--crying grateful tears as I read her final chapters. I won't recap what it's about. What I want to say here is that every sentence, every word sings, whispers, shouts with truth and honesty and the potency of love--the love of a child for her parents lost; the love of a child struggling to find her way alone, the love of a child who crie An extraordinary memoir about love and life I read this beautiful, powerful memoir in half a day; unable to stop, devouring Claire's gorgeous words and sentences--crying grateful tears as I read her final chapters. I won't recap what it's about. What I want to say here is that every sentence, every word sings, whispers, shouts with truth and honesty and the potency of love--the love of a child for her parents lost; the love of a child struggling to find her way alone, the love of a child who cried out to the universe and came to write this beautiful book so others could receive Claire's hard-earned gifts of understanding. Every one of us experiences grief and loss; it's part of who we are and Claire's presence, her compassion and warmth, her anger and forgiveness offers warmth and healing and grace in this pages. This book is a gift. Simply extraordinary.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    “My mother is dead. She is not dead yet. She is in her hospital bed in DC, but I want to know how it will feel to say it. My mother is dead. I say it several times. My mother is dead. My mother is dead. The words become living things. They scuffle at the corners of the room, and I wrap my arms tight around me, trying to keep still so they will not notice me.”

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ron Stempkowski

    I pre-ordered this book months ago. When I woke up this morning I had received an email that it had been downloaded to my kindle. I began devouring it early this morning as I'd been eagerly anticipating it's arrival since the author told me about it last year--when she was my and my late-husband's grief counselor in hospice. Claire Bidwell Smith is as bright and eloquent in print as she is person. In this memoir Bidwell Smith takes us through her journey of grief as both of her parents are diagno I pre-ordered this book months ago. When I woke up this morning I had received an email that it had been downloaded to my kindle. I began devouring it early this morning as I'd been eagerly anticipating it's arrival since the author told me about it last year--when she was my and my late-husband's grief counselor in hospice. Claire Bidwell Smith is as bright and eloquent in print as she is person. In this memoir Bidwell Smith takes us through her journey of grief as both of her parents are diagnosed with--and sequentially taken by cancer--when she was a teen and young adult--and a serpentine journey it is! Brutally honest, sparing no details of ill-conceived decisions made out of denial and unwillingness to accept what she has either lost--or was losing at the time--was heart wrenching. But the clarity and perspective from which this story is told hints from the beginning at an inevitable understanding somewhere down the line. It really tinges the whole story in a framework which keeps you turning the page, desperate to find out what this young woman does next as she copes with such devastating loss, and hoping she'll find the answers she is searching for. I could't put this book down.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Worhle-rodriquez

    The morning this book was released I found myself reading the whole thing, unable to put it down. This book is quite simply one young woman's journey through the heartbreaking loss of both of her parents at an age when she was still unsure of who she was and who she would become. Claire's powerful and poetic words weave a story that draws the reader in. Several times I was overcome with emotion and had to pause as my eyes blurred with tears. In the end what struck me the most about this book was The morning this book was released I found myself reading the whole thing, unable to put it down. This book is quite simply one young woman's journey through the heartbreaking loss of both of her parents at an age when she was still unsure of who she was and who she would become. Claire's powerful and poetic words weave a story that draws the reader in. Several times I was overcome with emotion and had to pause as my eyes blurred with tears. In the end what struck me the most about this book was the powerful simplicity of pure human connection coupled with the beauty and fragility of human life. This book is a truly amazing piece of art that I think will touch many lives and inspire others to find their own path through grief to a place of healing.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Not sure what made me pick up this several-years-old memoir, but I'm so glad that I did. What a gorgeously written memoir on grief and loss. I would imagine that anyone's who's suffered a loss who would relate to so much. Although perhaps this might be too hard to read if the loss is fresh; it's very raw and affecting and though I've experienced nothing like the author has, I was sobbing in several passages. The scene where she goes to a remote island for a solo diving expedition was so heartbre Not sure what made me pick up this several-years-old memoir, but I'm so glad that I did. What a gorgeously written memoir on grief and loss. I would imagine that anyone's who's suffered a loss who would relate to so much. Although perhaps this might be too hard to read if the loss is fresh; it's very raw and affecting and though I've experienced nothing like the author has, I was sobbing in several passages. The scene where she goes to a remote island for a solo diving expedition was so heartbreaking and profound. Such a beautiful memoir.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    Just finished and I loved this book. Both of Clair Bidwell's books have helped me so much through my own grief from losing my mom recently. This book was so raw and personal and very well written. Just finished and I loved this book. Both of Clair Bidwell's books have helped me so much through my own grief from losing my mom recently. This book was so raw and personal and very well written.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    "𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆'𝒔 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒅𝒊𝒃𝒍𝒚 𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒍𝒚 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒈𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈. 𝑰𝒕'𝒔 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒍𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒏 𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒚 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒏𝒐 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒂𝒌𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒎𝒆 𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒖𝒂𝒈𝒆 𝒂𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖." Claire Bidwell Smith's parents both died of cancer by the time she had reached the age of twenty five. The loss left her feeling broken, unsure of herself and searching for anything that could feel the hole she now felt inside her chest. "The rules of inheritance" is a touching memoir. The pain of the author is palpable on many occasions. In many ways it originally rem "𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆'𝒔 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒅𝒊𝒃𝒍𝒚 𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒍𝒚 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒈𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈. 𝑰𝒕'𝒔 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒍𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒏 𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒚 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒏𝒐 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒂𝒌𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒎𝒆 𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒖𝒂𝒈𝒆 𝒂𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖." Claire Bidwell Smith's parents both died of cancer by the time she had reached the age of twenty five. The loss left her feeling broken, unsure of herself and searching for anything that could feel the hole she now felt inside her chest. "The rules of inheritance" is a touching memoir. The pain of the author is palpable on many occasions. In many ways it originally reminded me of "prozac nation", one of my favourite books written by the wonderful, now deceased, Elizabeth Wurtzel. This memoir however, was poorly edited. She tells her story in a very disjointed manner. She jumps from her early teens to her thirties, back to her twenties, and bring us back to her teens, sometimes describing an event that seems to have little to no connection with the main topic of the book. It made me wonder if she hadn't initially planned to publish small essays in a magazine and just jottled those bits and pieces together trying to recreate a coherent narrative of her life story. Because of that, the book felt repetitive and drawn out when it is in fact under 300 pages long. In spite of all the faults this memoir may have, it remains a very decent debut and if you have lost a parent in your youth, it won't be hard for you to connect with Claire's feelings and find yourself in her words as I have.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lane

    "Why would anyone want to walk into pain? . . . But when I did, I found that it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would." This book left me speechless. And in tears a lot of the time. It's a really heavy subject matter, the heaviest--but somehow reading about things like this, about people who have gone through similar (though not the same) pain, helps to put your own soul back together after trauma. Especially when you don't have a choice but to walk through pain. "Why would anyone want to walk into pain? . . . But when I did, I found that it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would." This book left me speechless. And in tears a lot of the time. It's a really heavy subject matter, the heaviest--but somehow reading about things like this, about people who have gone through similar (though not the same) pain, helps to put your own soul back together after trauma. Especially when you don't have a choice but to walk through pain.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    You have absolutely, no idea, what it's like to lose both your parents, less than 6 years apart, at relatively young age...unless, you have lost both of your parents, less than 6 years apart, at a relatively young age. This book comforted and validated me. Reading it was like a homecoming. Full review to come. Right now, I just want to sit with it all. To bask in the realization, that we are never alone in our suffering. You have absolutely, no idea, what it's like to lose both your parents, less than 6 years apart, at relatively young age...unless, you have lost both of your parents, less than 6 years apart, at a relatively young age. This book comforted and validated me. Reading it was like a homecoming. Full review to come. Right now, I just want to sit with it all. To bask in the realization, that we are never alone in our suffering.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Theodora Blanchfield

    I don't know how I haven't already reviewed the book that has been the most helpful to me in my grief process. Someone commented on my blog that I should read Claire's work, and I'm so grateful for that comment. This book talks about Claire's deep experience with grief, losing her mom to cancer at 18 and her dad by 25. I just lost my mom to cancer and am an only child like Claire, and so much of what she writes resonates with me. I recommend this book to anyone going through grief, and I've give I don't know how I haven't already reviewed the book that has been the most helpful to me in my grief process. Someone commented on my blog that I should read Claire's work, and I'm so grateful for that comment. This book talks about Claire's deep experience with grief, losing her mom to cancer at 18 and her dad by 25. I just lost my mom to cancer and am an only child like Claire, and so much of what she writes resonates with me. I recommend this book to anyone going through grief, and I've given it to friends after their own losses.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Fawn

    Oh this is book is so beautifully written, yet so painful with the author’s palpable grief. Having lost a parent at a young age, I shared some of her thoughts and could nod in recognition to some of her experiences.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Wow. I'm not sure which of my friends's review of this prompted me to add this to my want to read list years (yes, YEARS) ago, but I'm glad I did. This was a powerful read that I connected with on many, many levels. Loss and grief are such personal journeys. I'm glad I read Claire's. Wow. I'm not sure which of my friends's review of this prompted me to add this to my want to read list years (yes, YEARS) ago, but I'm glad I did. This was a powerful read that I connected with on many, many levels. Loss and grief are such personal journeys. I'm glad I read Claire's.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Luna

    wrecked and grateful

  25. 4 out of 5

    Felice Cohen

    So beautiful. So touching. And so creative. Loved how the chapters flashed to different times in her life.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    To say I identified personally with this book is an understatement. Having lost my parents when I was 14 and 24, it meant so much to me to read a book by someone with similar losses. Losing the anchor of having parents around before you are a fully formed adult yourself drastically changes who you are, or would have been otherwise - like her, "I often wonder who I would be had my parents not died". I owe a huge thank you to Smith for being so open and honest about her grieving - it's something I To say I identified personally with this book is an understatement. Having lost my parents when I was 14 and 24, it meant so much to me to read a book by someone with similar losses. Losing the anchor of having parents around before you are a fully formed adult yourself drastically changes who you are, or would have been otherwise - like her, "I often wonder who I would be had my parents not died". I owe a huge thank you to Smith for being so open and honest about her grieving - it's something I continually process myself and it was cathartic to read how someone else felt about it. As she writes - "There's something incredibly lonely about grieving. It's like living in a country where no one speaks the same language as you." "I couldn't help wondering if what I felt was normal. And each time I came across someone else's story, each time I found reassurance that I wasn't alone in my grief process, I relaxed a little more." I am so grateful I came across her story. This book is heart-breaking, of course, but so poignant and uplifting too. Another favorite quote for me was with regard to the hospice grief counseling Smith was doing at the time of writing the book: "The truth is I don't find it sad at all. When I talk to grieving people, it's like looking at a negative image - the deeper the grief, the more evidence of love I see." The depth of love Smith had for her parents is beautifully clear in her writing about them. I am excited for the movie to come out, and look forward to reading Smith's upcoming book as well.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy M

    4.5. A beautifully-told memoir about a woman's love for her parents. At age 14, both of Claire's parents were diagnosed with cancer. Yet she remains a pretty ordinary girl, doing & feeling pretty ordinary things. I was struck by her pain & brutal honesty that she felt she failed her mom & should have been a better daughter. Yet she does admit that had her mother not died first, she would have never developed the close relationship with her father that formed when it was just the two of them. I l 4.5. A beautifully-told memoir about a woman's love for her parents. At age 14, both of Claire's parents were diagnosed with cancer. Yet she remains a pretty ordinary girl, doing & feeling pretty ordinary things. I was struck by her pain & brutal honesty that she felt she failed her mom & should have been a better daughter. Yet she does admit that had her mother not died first, she would have never developed the close relationship with her father that formed when it was just the two of them. I loved how she learned from her regrets over her mom and was there for her dad when he needed her. My favorite part of the whole book was when they went to Europe together to retrace her dad's experiences there during WWII. From what she learned to how the villagers cared & remembered - it will remain with me a long time. I also love that Claire finally found her place in the world by becoming a grief counselor & hospice worker. Simply amazing that she could channel her grief in such a positive way that helps others when they need it the most. Most of us would not have the strength to face the depths of others' grief when we ourselves had just learned to live with ours. Having just read "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed, this has many parallels on how a daughter deals with grief after losing her mother too young. I highly recommend this book, and think it would make a great book club pick (especially paired with "Wild").

  28. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    Not recommended. Too long. Poor authorial decisions made about how the material should be organized. Understand, please, that I am not judging the author's grief...nor her entitlement to it. However, I'm not sure that many of the incidents related in the book, particularly the author's troubled relationships with boyfriends, could in fact be attributed to the author's early loss of her mother--which seems to be the implication. The use of the first-person present tense, the omission of quotation Not recommended. Too long. Poor authorial decisions made about how the material should be organized. Understand, please, that I am not judging the author's grief...nor her entitlement to it. However, I'm not sure that many of the incidents related in the book, particularly the author's troubled relationships with boyfriends, could in fact be attributed to the author's early loss of her mother--which seems to be the implication. The use of the first-person present tense, the omission of quotation marks and speaker tags, and the loading on of play by play description of (what seemed to me)insignificant statements and actions made for very tedious reading at times. A good editor should have assisted Smith with these excesses. A fair bit of the description goes to the author's endless lighting and smoking of cigarettes, which I found stunning in a book where both parents die of cancer. I understand that a fair bit of the material was reworked from the author's blog. I believe that the material should've stayed a blog. Perhaps, however, the memoir will prove helpful to some who are stuck in their grief, but I found little that was compelling or edifying in this text. Additionally, I'm puzzled by the title, which seems to have nothing to do with with the events related. Thank you to NetGalley for a digital ARC of this text.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was really hoping to like this book more. I have read many comments on her Instagram claiming this book to be witty, charming, and incredible. I did not detect any wit and was not charmed. As far as incredible, it wasn't so much for me. Claire Smith recounts the events surrounding her parents' deaths as a young woman. This memoir finishes when after ten years since her mother died she finally feels like a confident, independent person and let's her grief go. The entire book is read in the same I was really hoping to like this book more. I have read many comments on her Instagram claiming this book to be witty, charming, and incredible. I did not detect any wit and was not charmed. As far as incredible, it wasn't so much for me. Claire Smith recounts the events surrounding her parents' deaths as a young woman. This memoir finishes when after ten years since her mother died she finally feels like a confident, independent person and let's her grief go. The entire book is read in the same rhythm and cadence, a fairly simple tune, and I couldn't stand listening to it in my head (I read a printed copy). The sentence structure, vocabulary, and paragraph length are such that I could have written most of it if I simply knew the story, being able to anticipate the next cliche and allegory and the way it would be told. It was a choice she made to not indent paragraphs, include large spaces between paragraphs, and not put conversations in quotes, but wasn't exactly my favorite. It was alright to read, but not my favorite. I couldn't even try to critique the plot, because it's a person' life. I just will say as someone unfamiliar with great loss or grief of death, I felt a disconnect with the author. If one day I face loss, I hope this story will prove valuable to have read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christine Frank

    By happenstance, this is the third memoir in a month by professional writers who have something happen to them and move to or already live in New York, and abuse substances and may or may not come out the better for it. And this is the best one, with the most admirable "character", with the most, oh, redeemed/fixed/came out the other end a better person? As someone who also lost her mother at age 18, I completely get this tale. There are some wonderful passages about loss and the slow, slow accep By happenstance, this is the third memoir in a month by professional writers who have something happen to them and move to or already live in New York, and abuse substances and may or may not come out the better for it. And this is the best one, with the most admirable "character", with the most, oh, redeemed/fixed/came out the other end a better person? As someone who also lost her mother at age 18, I completely get this tale. There are some wonderful passages about loss and the slow, slow acceptance of it and how it changes your life. And how other people don't understand. I just wish that the author had stayed in college and, having lost or while losing, two parents to cancer, was not *the heaviest smoker I have ever seen in all of literature.* This -- yes, I know it's not a device but true life -- bothered me each time it came up. I am impressed with what Smith has done with her life in the meantime. I rarely buy multiple copies of books but this may be one I give to a few family members.

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