The Night Lake: A Young Priest Maps the Topography of Grief

Counterpoint. Jan. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781640094062. $26. MEMOIR
Tichenor debuts with an exceptional book about the power of survival after a significant tragedy: the death of her five-week old son. Tichenor, an Episcopal priest, is honest to the point of being blunt, whether she is dealing with the coroner, the funeral director, or the mourners—and her rich descriptions of the funeral and burial are almost too much to bear. While she has no patience for clichés, simply loathing the platitudes of the saccharine cards people send her, she is appropriately forthcoming with her young daughter about what is happening throughout the entire process. Tichenor’s memoir moves around in time and she also writes about an earlier loss, her mother’s death by suicide, which provides more depth to her experiences of grief. Details are also given about other significant life markers, such as her decision to become sober and take up running, and her choice to have another child. The most moving sections of the book are toward the end where she writes about church services reflecting on her son’s death.
VERDICT A stunning introspective memoir recommended for general readers, especially those dealing with grief.
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