The Rules of Inheritance - Book Review

I'm not well acquainted with grief.  Not the kind that tears your soul and makes you wonder how life continues to go on.  I've been lucky, I guess.  As I started The Rules of Inheritance, by Claire Bidwell Smith, I worried that it would depress me or that I wouldn't connect with the author.  I don't have much in common with Claire.  Her life experience is so different than mine, that I had to remind myself that this was a memoir, not a novel.

In the book, Claire shares the powerful and heart-wrenching story of the loss of her parents.  I wasn't sure how I felt about the way she skipped from one time of her life to another, but I soon got lost in the story and read the book in two days.

Claire paints a vivid picture and her storytelling is profound.  One of the most haunting parts for me was when she described grief being her constant companion-

"Grief holds my hand as I walk down the sidewalk, and grief doesn't mind when I cry because it's raining and I cannot find a taxi.  Grief wraps itself around me in the morning when I wake from a dream of my mother and grief hold me back when I lean too far over the edge of the roof at night, a drink in my hand.
Grief is possessive and doesn't let me go anywhere without it."

It would be a hard thing, being an eighteen year-old woman without a mother.  That's a time in our lives when independence is calling and there are so many choices to make.  We may feel our parents are stifling, but it's to them we run when we need stability and strength.   It's understandable, then, that Claire gets lost .  She consoles herself with alcohol and often seems bent on destruction.  Death became a house guest who doesn't want to leave as she also loses a close friend and then her dad.

Though the story is a sad one, Claire beautifully describes the stages of grief and how she experienced each of them.  In a word, poignant.

You can read more about the book at BlogHer.
And, you can check out Claire's blog here.

(This is a paid review for BlogHer book club.  The opinions expressed are my own.)


  1. Just put this on my ever-expanding to-read list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

  2. I hadn't heard of this book, but then again I don't have a lot of time lately for reading of books. I think this might be a difficult read for me. I always wished I had a mother and father that I could draw on for strength. And mine are living.


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