Edi and Ash have been best friends for over forty years. Since childhood they have seen each other through life’s milestones: stealing vodka from their parents, the Madonna phase, REM concerts, unexpected wakes, marriages, infertility, children. As Ash notes, ‘Edi’s memory is like the back-up hard drive for mine.’
So when Edi is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ash’s world reshapes around the rhythms of Edi’s care, from chipped ice and watermelon cubes to music therapy; from snack smuggling to impromptu excursions into the frozen winter night. Because life is about squeezing the joy out of every moment, about building a powerhouse of memories, about learning when to hold on, and when to let go.
Thank you firstly to Alison Barrow for sending me an early reader’s copy of this book, I love receiving book mail and words can’t describe how lucky I feel about this.
In just over 200 pages we meet the incredible Ash and Edi as Edi moves into a hospice for end of life care, close to where Ash lives. A bitter sweet book throughout, this book is about death after all but while I did shed a tear or two this book is in no way morose, but warm, funny, uplifting and magical. A tale of two families, not wholly functional but oh so warm and special – there is a lot of love in this book, not just between Edi and Ash but this whole motely group of characters.
I adored Ash, heartbroken at the prospect of losing Edi but committed to supporting and caring for her through her final days, mother of 2 daughter and separated but close to her husband, Ash is juggling a lot. She is complicated while seemingly also straightforward – she is honest and this was particularly evidenced in her incredible relationship with her daughter Belle. Ash is our narrator and the story is told in her voice and words, we share her grief, but also her braveness and her memories.
This was a swift read, marketed for fans of Nora Ephron and I agree, there was something of Nora in Ash and I love that strong, slightly acerbic female voice. It is a story about death, the end of a life but I was left feeling struck that this was a story about how to ‘do death well’. Yes it was sad, desperately so at times but rich in humour, love and compassion, this book left me feeling impressed and uplifted, while quietly wiping my eyes!
Folks, you will need to wait until next year for this one, I’m very lucky indeed to have an early copy but this one is worth the wait so add it to your list now, it’s an ode to female friendship, a book to cherish and a book to keep. Thank you for reading and Alison thank you again for this early copy.
About the Author
Catherine Newman is the author of the memoirs Catastrophic Happiness and Waiting for Birdy. She edits the non-profit kids’ cooking magazine ChopChop, writes the etiquette column for Real Simple magazine, and is a regular contributor to the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Parents magazine, and many other publications. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family.
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Great review. Thanks so much.