Harnessing Grief: A Mother’s Quest for Meaning and Miracles

Beacon. Jan. 2021. 200p. ISBN 9780807040256. $24.95. MEMOIR
Kefalas shares a powerful, intimate reflection of grief and hope as she recounts her experiences with her youngest child, Calliope, diagnosed with metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a degenerative, incurable genetic disease. The author’s writing is candid and immersive. Her self-awareness guides the pace of the story and is consistently impactful, whether she is describing a hospital visit, getting dressed for work, reacting to kindness amidst grief, or recounting the economic and social costs of chronic illness. Much of the book takes place within the year following Calliope’s diagnosis, an effective choice for conveying the significance of these details. The story is also punctuated by loving descriptions of daily life with Calliope. Readers bear witness as Kefalas and her family move toward what she refers to as the “superpower of grief” and learn about her current work as an advocate for MLD with her Calliope Joy Foundation. Readers interested in personal portraits of grief and illness may also enjoy Emily Rapp Black’s The Still Point of the Turning World.
VERDICT A stunning, candid memoir. Those seeking a relatable story as they process grief and fans of personal memoir will appreciate this book equally for its honest, insightful storytelling.
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