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Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

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In Let’s Take the Long Walk Home, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gail Caldwell has written a powerful and moving memoir about her coming-of-age in mid-life, and her extraordinary friendship with the author of Drinking: A Love Story, Caroline Knapp—fellow writers, AA members, dog lovers, and observers of life.      In her younger years, Caldwell defined herself by rebellion a In Let’s Take the Long Walk Home, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gail Caldwell has written a powerful and moving memoir about her coming-of-age in mid-life, and her extraordinary friendship with the author of Drinking: A Love Story, Caroline Knapp—fellow writers, AA members, dog lovers, and observers of life.      In her younger years, Caldwell defined herself by rebellion and independence, a passion for books, and an aversion to intimacy and a distrust of others. Then while living in Cambridge in her early 40s, “an age when the view from the hill can be clear and poignant both,” Caldwell adopts a rambunctious puppy named Clementine. On one of their bucolic walks, she meets Caroline and her dog, Lucille, and both women’s lives change forever. Though they are more different than alike, these two fiercely private, independent women quickly relax into a friendship more profound than either of them expected, a friendship that will thrive on their shared secrets, including parallel struggles with alcoholism and loneliness. They grow increasingly inseparable until, in 2003, Caroline is diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Caldwell writes: “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.”       In her signature exquisite prose, Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion and grief in this wise and affecting account about losing her best friend. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is also a celebration of life and all the little moments worth cherishing—and affirms why Gail Caldwell is rightly praised as one of our bravest and most honest literary voices.


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In Let’s Take the Long Walk Home, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gail Caldwell has written a powerful and moving memoir about her coming-of-age in mid-life, and her extraordinary friendship with the author of Drinking: A Love Story, Caroline Knapp—fellow writers, AA members, dog lovers, and observers of life.      In her younger years, Caldwell defined herself by rebellion a In Let’s Take the Long Walk Home, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gail Caldwell has written a powerful and moving memoir about her coming-of-age in mid-life, and her extraordinary friendship with the author of Drinking: A Love Story, Caroline Knapp—fellow writers, AA members, dog lovers, and observers of life.      In her younger years, Caldwell defined herself by rebellion and independence, a passion for books, and an aversion to intimacy and a distrust of others. Then while living in Cambridge in her early 40s, “an age when the view from the hill can be clear and poignant both,” Caldwell adopts a rambunctious puppy named Clementine. On one of their bucolic walks, she meets Caroline and her dog, Lucille, and both women’s lives change forever. Though they are more different than alike, these two fiercely private, independent women quickly relax into a friendship more profound than either of them expected, a friendship that will thrive on their shared secrets, including parallel struggles with alcoholism and loneliness. They grow increasingly inseparable until, in 2003, Caroline is diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Caldwell writes: “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.”       In her signature exquisite prose, Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion and grief in this wise and affecting account about losing her best friend. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is also a celebration of life and all the little moments worth cherishing—and affirms why Gail Caldwell is rightly praised as one of our bravest and most honest literary voices.

30 review for Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    4.5 Stars “When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time — the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes — when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever — there comes another day, and another specifically m 4.5 Stars “When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time — the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes — when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever — there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” John Irving – “A Prayer for Owen Meany” ”Finding Caroline was like placing a personal ad for an imaginary friend, then having her show up at your door funnier and better than you had conceived.” This memoir honors the exceptional friendship with her friend, a fellow writer, Caroline Knapp, how and where they met, their bond over their love of dogs, being writers, and recovering / recovered alcoholics. If, perhaps, there is one bond mentioned more frequently than others in this loving memoir, it is of their love of their dogs. Their dogs were their comfort zone, their way of having companionship that they could handle, it didn’t require much more from them than love, sharing their love of the outdoors with these wonderful creatures, and some food and water. Caroline Knapp had already written a memoir about her battle with alcoholism, “Drinking: A Love Story,” which Gail Caldwell knew when they met, and let Caroline know in a fairly casual way that she no longer drank, either. It wasn’t instant friendship, but it was a bonding moment, a moment letting them know there was something they knew about the other that could be a comfort – they could be themselves, scars and all. ”It took me years to grasp that this grit and discomfort in any relationship are an indicator of closeness, not its opposite.” Both women loved deeply, not just each other as friends, but Caroline had a special man in her life and there was an ease between the three of them, bonded by their dogs, their writing, and their love of the outdoors…. Gail began to let her guard down more, worrying less about her fears that she’d already confided to her therapist. ”When I wept and told him I was afraid I was too intense, too much, he interrupted my tears and said, ’If someone came down from above and told me I could keep only one thing about you, it would be your too-muchness.’” This is really a lovely memoir, although the beginning was a bit too slow for me, but this is ultimately a shortened journey in friendship, when Caroline is diagnosed with a particularly fast moving lung cancer, and ultimately succumbs to it’s destructive force. “What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.” The grief, the living in a constant state of grief until that moment when you let your guard down and find that you’re smiling, even if it’s just an almost smile, and it feels almost like a betrayal. Grief must subside, before we can let it fly, but all those baby steps in between. ”It's taken years for me to understand that dying doesn't end the story; it transforms it. Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue. Most of us wander in and out of one another's lives until not death, but distance, does us part-time and space and the heart's weariness are the blander executioners of human connection.” A very personal memoir, full of emotion, grief, love, sadness, and whatever passes for acceptance until struggling against the truth, that life is not really the way we believed it would be. ”I had realized, as life is always willing to instruct, that the world as we see it is only the published version.” Recommended

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Perhaps my new favorite first line of all time: "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too." This quote introduces Gail Caldwell's lyrical, wise, and compassionate tribute to her best friend, Caroline Knapp, who died at 42 due to lung cancer. The two shared many things: the craft of writing, a love for dogs, and a history with alcoholism. Upon meeting they forged an intense emotional bond after just a few conversations. Caldwell Perhaps my new favorite first line of all time: "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too." This quote introduces Gail Caldwell's lyrical, wise, and compassionate tribute to her best friend, Caroline Knapp, who died at 42 due to lung cancer. The two shared many things: the craft of writing, a love for dogs, and a history with alcoholism. Upon meeting they forged an intense emotional bond after just a few conversations. Caldwell describes their friendship with honesty and depth, revealing how their mutual competitiveness complemented boosted them both, as well as how they responded to the others' sorrows. In the second half of the book Caldwell lays bare her grief after Knapp's passing, which brought me to tears two or three times. This passage displays the power of her writing, in which she describes the time when Knapp stayed in the hospital right before passing away: "All of this seems as though it were yesterday, or forever ago, in that crevasse between space and time that stays fixed in the imagination. I remember it all because I remember it all. In crisis with someone you love, the dialogue is as burnished as a scar on a tree. It shocks me now what I remember, though I suppose it shouldn't, because I have Caroline's voice fixed in my heart. That voice: the inflection, the range, the perfectly timed humor. This I would not lose." I also appreciated Let's Take the Long Way Home so much because of its focus on friendship. Caldwell and Knapp both emphasize their feminist values and their penchant for independence through their writing. Yet, Caldwell portrays their reliance on one another and their support of each other with conviction and eloquence. So often our society only pays attention to romantic love interests - just turn on the radio to any pop station - or family bonds. But Caldwell's memorial to Knapp shows the amazing potential of friendships to reach profound, heartrending heights. Overall, a stellar work of nonfiction. While Caldwell does spend a decent amount of the book discussing her dog, Clementine, for the most part she ties it back to Knapp. If you know me at all you know how much I love and honor Caroline Knapp - I consider her book Appetites my bible - so Let's Take the Long Way Home may have even more of an impact if you read one of Knapp's works first. All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in memoirs, grief, or precise, poignant writing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    If you loved Ann Patchett’s Truth and Beauty, pick this up immediately. It’s a similar story of best friends: one who dies and one who survives. Caldwell’s best friend was Caroline Knapp (author of Drinking: A Love Story, among other nonfiction works), whom she met via puppy ownership in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They were both single and childless, full-time authors with a history of alcoholism. A “gregarious hermit,” Caldwell writes that she “wanted the warmth of spontaneous connection and the If you loved Ann Patchett’s Truth and Beauty, pick this up immediately. It’s a similar story of best friends: one who dies and one who survives. Caldwell’s best friend was Caroline Knapp (author of Drinking: A Love Story, among other nonfiction works), whom she met via puppy ownership in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They were both single and childless, full-time authors with a history of alcoholism. A “gregarious hermit,” Caldwell writes that she “wanted the warmth of spontaneous connection and the freedom to be left alone,” and Caroline offered a perfect mixture of respect for her solitude and gentle nudging to get out and face the world: Caroline knocked on the front door of my inner space, waited, then knocked again. She was persistent, she seemed smart and warmhearted … She seemed like someone for whom I wouldn’t mind breaking my monkish ways. They took long walks with their dogs and went swimming and rowing together, keeping up an ongoing conversation “about whether we were living our lives correctly … that ranged from the serious (writing, solitude, loneliness) to the mundane (wasted time, the idiocies of urban life, trash TV).” In 2002 Caroline, a devoted smoker, was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer, an inoperable type that had already metastasized. Despite all their proactive optimism, she was dead a matter of weeks later. In this moving and accessible short memoir, Caldwell drifts through her past, their friendship, Caroline’s illness, and the years of grief that followed her loss of Caroline and then her beloved Samoyed, Clementine. She also shares what she has learned about bereavement: Maybe this is the point: to embrace the core sadness of life without toppling headlong into it, or assuming it will define your days. The real trick is to let life, with all its ordinary missteps and regrets, be consistently more mysterious and alluring that its end. I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures. Highly recommended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Roxann

    If I could give this an additional fractional star I would. Maybe 3.5 or 3.75. It has one of the best first lines I've ever read: "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too." I was hooked, and that's what I wanted to read about: the memoir of friendship, and unbearable loss. That's all in there and is so good. But I was distracted by the long, long story of the author's struggle with, and recovery from alcoholism which had happe If I could give this an additional fractional star I would. Maybe 3.5 or 3.75. It has one of the best first lines I've ever read: "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too." I was hooked, and that's what I wanted to read about: the memoir of friendship, and unbearable loss. That's all in there and is so good. But I was distracted by the long, long story of the author's struggle with, and recovery from alcoholism which had happened years and years before the friendship and seemed such a detour from the theme of the book. Is it just a coincidence that Caroline Knapp (best friend - deceased - of the book) was a recovered alcoholic and had written a well-received memoir of her struggle? I get it that this is something they had in common, that perhaps it brought them closer, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the lengthy diversion was some kind of writing competition with her dead friend. "Let's see who can write the best AA memoir?" I just wanted to hurry through that part to get to the REAL story. All that aside, the book is, in the end, a touching and lucid narrative of an amazing friendship and then of insufferable grief and loss. I thought it was beautifully written; not particularly raw - not difficult to read in that way - but never overly romanticized or euphemistic either. And it's the story of Gail Caldwell, the author, going on with her life with a hole rent through it. The last part deserves 4 stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I read Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp a few months ago. I remember just inhaling it. Her writing was incredible. Smart, funny, real. When I finished it, I put the book down and went immediately to Amazon to read more of her stuff. Which is when I discovered she had died of lung cancer in her early 40s in 2002. The voice of her memoir was so clear, and her personality shone through and I felt sad to have lost such a voice. Christmas time I learned that Gail Caldwell (her very best friend) ha I read Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp a few months ago. I remember just inhaling it. Her writing was incredible. Smart, funny, real. When I finished it, I put the book down and went immediately to Amazon to read more of her stuff. Which is when I discovered she had died of lung cancer in her early 40s in 2002. The voice of her memoir was so clear, and her personality shone through and I felt sad to have lost such a voice. Christmas time I learned that Gail Caldwell (her very best friend) had written a memoir about her friendship with Caroline. I read it cover to cover in about 3.5 hours flat. It was that good. Gail is a wonderful writer and places her fingers so well on the soul of her friendship with Caroline, her own journey during the years they were friends, their relationships with their dogs and ultimately, Caroline's death. There were a couple of places I just cried for them both, thought of my own best friends, and cried some more. Gail is also a recovering alcoholic, and she touches on this. Somewhere I read once that every woman should know the soul of a wonderful dog and another woman. Gail writes with incredible beauty of both. I highly recommend both books for all. Just wonderful, wonderful stuff.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    The subtitle is misleading: this isn't so much a memoir of friendship as of the loss of that friendship. It's specifically about grief: that weird absence of the person you loved which is almost like a presence itself, a negative exposure: not their eyes, not their hair, not their voice.... When the book focuses on bereavement it's stunning. The friendship itself is not that well-portrayed, compared to, say, another writer's-memoir-of-a-dead-woman-writer-friend, Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty. The subtitle is misleading: this isn't so much a memoir of friendship as of the loss of that friendship. It's specifically about grief: that weird absence of the person you loved which is almost like a presence itself, a negative exposure: not their eyes, not their hair, not their voice.... When the book focuses on bereavement it's stunning. The friendship itself is not that well-portrayed, compared to, say, another writer's-memoir-of-a-dead-woman-writer-friend, Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty. Despite declarations of how identical they are (which is odd, since Knapp already had an identical twin) you never really get a good sense of why these women were so bonded. This is possibly due to their strongest shared activities being nonintellectual: rowing, swimming, hiking, walking, dog training. Physical activity can be a real outlet for extremely analytical, intelligent people, but it can also be hard to describe in print. The two women also don't appear to have discussed their writing at all (even when Knapp portrayed their friendship in articles and books). Caldwell's treatment of her own recovery from alcoholism is especially perfunctory (again odd since that was yet another link between her and Knapp). The difficulty in feeling their closeness convincing is compounded because the book is not at all told in chronological order; you know Caroline is dead on the first page (indeed, you know it before you pick up the book, if you do, it was such an integral part of the marketing). Every memory is tinged with loss. What is present is absence; every memory of Caroline is now sad because memories are all that is left of her. Profound mourning, the reaction to the loss of someone who is loved, contains the same painful frame of mind, the same loss of interest in the outside world—in so far as it does not recall him—the same loss of capacity to adopt any new object of love (which would mean replacing him) and the same turning away from any activity that is not connected with thoughts of him.* In a sense, the book only comes to life when Caroline begins to die. Caldwell's flat, descriptive (as opposed to experiential) prose style suddenly catches fire and is terribly evocative to anyone who has lived through the waking nightmare of consultations with too many doctors, bedside vigils counting breaths, phone calls that turn into five alarm bells. Spoilers for the ending: (view spoiler)[Because of a spoiler in another GoodReads review, I knew Caldwell's dog Clementine had to be euthanized at the end of the book, but I thought this happened after the pit bull attack, and was glad I was wrong. The inclusion of Clementine's death feels somehow manipulative, despite its apparent suitability as the book's natural ending. It gets even worse when Caldwell passes a cemetery on her way to pick up a new puppy. (hide spoiler)] The required ending epiphany feels as manufactured as a closing moment in a bad New Yorker story. Despite this and other numerous flaws*** (this is also one of those shortish nonfiction memoirs that feels padded out from long-magazine-article length - the book would have been far better at either half or double its present length) this memoir may be seen as important because it shows a monumentally important cultural shift. Knapp and Caldwell were in the vanguard of the first generation of women who lived alone, and worked alone, and liked it, and weren't utter social pariahs. True, successful ambitious unmarried women are still often accused of either being "incomplete" women without maternal instincts, or who substitute ersatz companions like dogs or cats (or other women) for husband and children.** It's even worse if the unmarried ambitious woman likes dogs (or - far more stereotypically - cats. One can't evade the idea that just as these two women took up tough sports requiring physical endurance, and hard drinking, and newspaper reporting, and other culturally "macho" activities, they partly - consciously or not - chose dogs over cats). Their solitude, and their separate bonding with an individual dog to form a "pack of two" (which on occasion became a "pack of four" or more with both women and their dogs, and sometimes included other friends or Knapp's on-off boyfriend), was what they held in common. Women have always had close relationships with other women which may be stronger than marital or familial bonds, and women writers have frequently found companionship in dogs (strangely Caldwell only mentions Emily Dickinson and Carlo - she's rather nonliterary for a book reviewer - but there's Emily Bronte and Keeper, Anne Sexton and her dogs, Virginia Woolf, and so on). But this is one of the few books where those female relationships, and that animal companionship, are presented as precious on their own, not substituting for something else -- which, indeed, cannot be substituted for themselves. No human will offer the kind of immediate emotional sympathy an animal can; no husband, father or child will participate in and yet guard the emotional solitude Knapp and Caldwell shared. Knapp's loss is more than merely personal; it is the amputation of a unique, irreplaceable relationship. *Freud at the beginning of Mourning and Melancholia **Even successful women with families are not safe: in a recent Marie-Claire interview, Sallie Krawcheck was asked not just "What should a woman working on Wall Street wear?" but "Your career has been marked by early-morning starts and constant travel. Do you have regrets about how you raised your two children, now 18 and 15?" http://www.marieclaire.com/career-mon... ***That cover is nauseating. (Yes, I know this is not the author's fault. It just bugs me.) It looks like a dreadfully stereotypical "chick lit" book. Why not a picture of Knapp and Caldwell? Or Knapp and Caldwell with their dogs? Or the photograph she writes about in the text, taken by Mark Morelli, of their dogs waiting for the two women to come back from a walk? That sounds perfect. The paperback's cover is sort of better, but looks like something by Norman Maclean.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Well, gosh, this was kind of disappointing, and I'm not sure why. Gail Caldwell's memoir of her long, tender friendship with Carolyn seems to have all the right ingredients - the friendship is warm, mature, and kind, their shared time is often poignant, it has a very sad, too-soon ending. I'm really struggling to figure out what I didn't like about it, except that it just seemed sort of boring. Perhaps it is the very maturity of the relationship, and the fact that Caldwell is clearly determined Well, gosh, this was kind of disappointing, and I'm not sure why. Gail Caldwell's memoir of her long, tender friendship with Carolyn seems to have all the right ingredients - the friendship is warm, mature, and kind, their shared time is often poignant, it has a very sad, too-soon ending. I'm really struggling to figure out what I didn't like about it, except that it just seemed sort of boring. Perhaps it is the very maturity of the relationship, and the fact that Caldwell is clearly determined to protect her friend's privacy - the reasonable and ethical response of any good friend. The trouble is, good memoirs are not made of only good memories. They need a bit of dysfunction, a little crankiness, to resonate. It's the old "Happy families are all alike" problem. Also? I never felt I got to know Carolyn. For all the vaunted intimacy of the friendship, very little intimacy is actually shared with the reader; hearing about Carolyn's prowess in training dogs and rowing a boat isn't the same as learning what hurt her feelings, who she loved (or hated), and what her recurring nightmares were. I understand protecting a friend's privacy; I'm in favor of that, actually. But if you want to write a powerful memoir, well...maybe you have to choose between honesty and privacy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David

    Having run across the dust cover description a few months ago I was looking forward to reading this book. Just the title implied a warm and deep sense of friendship. Unfortunately for me I felt the author was trying too hard to impress the reader with her intellect rather than just allow simple emotions and straightforward language convey the connection between these friends. There's a brief introduction about how they became acquainted and almost suddenly they're soul mates. Six years after form Having run across the dust cover description a few months ago I was looking forward to reading this book. Just the title implied a warm and deep sense of friendship. Unfortunately for me I felt the author was trying too hard to impress the reader with her intellect rather than just allow simple emotions and straightforward language convey the connection between these friends. There's a brief introduction about how they became acquainted and almost suddenly they're soul mates. Six years after forming a friendship, the best friend she will ever have, as the author describes her deceased friend, passes away. Yet other than a coincidental connection of addictions to alcohol and cigarettes; a love of dogs; careers as writers and athletic competitiveness I never came to understand their deep connection. There are lots of metaphors and background about the author to suggest she's an elitist struggling with a fragile ego but not nearly enough to tell me why their friendship was so magical. The book does a much better job conveying the connection between the author and her beloved Samoyed, Clementine. I truly wish the author could have accomplished the same when describing her bond with her dear friend Caroline Knapp.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    In this "memoir of friendship", Gail Caldwell gives us a loving view into her life with her dog Clementine which provided her entree into a life-changing friendship with Caroline Knapp, a fellow author and dog-lover. Through a mutual acquaintance, she was introduced to this woman who would become a soulmate. They challenge each other in multiple ways to become their personal best. Their friendship developed over years until Caroline's diagnosis with terminal lung cancer . It's difficult to adequa In this "memoir of friendship", Gail Caldwell gives us a loving view into her life with her dog Clementine which provided her entree into a life-changing friendship with Caroline Knapp, a fellow author and dog-lover. Through a mutual acquaintance, she was introduced to this woman who would become a soulmate. They challenge each other in multiple ways to become their personal best. Their friendship developed over years until Caroline's diagnosis with terminal lung cancer . It's difficult to adequately describe my reaction to reading this book. As I read I found pieces of myself and stages of my life, not so much in specific details as in the general flow of life and stages of growth. Initially I was thinking of rating this as 4 but when I realized how much I want to read it again and the effect it has had on me this week as I contemplate important friendships in my life, I've decided it needs to be rated 5.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    This was a truly amazing and moving memoir of two girlfriends... and their beloved dogs. This story started with the best first sentence I think I have ever read...'It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that too." This was a beautiful tribute of a friend (Gail Caldwell) to her two best friends in the world.. her human friend, Caroline Knapp and her best animal friend.... her dog, Clementine. I was so moved by this story that once I s This was a truly amazing and moving memoir of two girlfriends... and their beloved dogs. This story started with the best first sentence I think I have ever read...'It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that too." This was a beautiful tribute of a friend (Gail Caldwell) to her two best friends in the world.. her human friend, Caroline Knapp and her best animal friend.... her dog, Clementine. I was so moved by this story that once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down. It made me long for a best girlfriend like Caroline. And even though I have many cats in my life right now, this book sure made me miss having a dog.

  11. 5 out of 5

    etherealfire

    library e-book. "Death is a divorce nobody asked for; to live through it is to find a way to disengage from what you thought you couldn't stand to lose." ~~~ Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home "Caroline's death had left me with a great and terrible gift: how to live in a world where loss, some of it unbearable, is as common as dust or moonlight." ~~~ Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home

  12. 5 out of 5

    booklady

    After ordering two copies of this, one for me and one for my friend Jane in Arizona, I had second thoughts and worried that the death of one of the friends to cancer might be off-putting as Jane just got over a cancer scare herself (and also lost her mom and sister to cancer years ago). I can be SO dense! But she said that while she does not like to read books which are all about cancer, she thinks a book about friendship would be great and she can handle the rest. I meant it to be a joint read After ordering two copies of this, one for me and one for my friend Jane in Arizona, I had second thoughts and worried that the death of one of the friends to cancer might be off-putting as Jane just got over a cancer scare herself (and also lost her mom and sister to cancer years ago). I can be SO dense! But she said that while she does not like to read books which are all about cancer, she thinks a book about friendship would be great and she can handle the rest. I meant it to be a joint read for us, but I have already finished mine. It is a sweet and sad beautiful story and made me think about my dear friend Janie a lot! I hope she likes it! She is a writer and has a dog and is my best friend. August 25, 2020 update: Jane finished her copy of the book and really enjoyed it too! 👩‍🦱 Janie 👩‍🦰 Me

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Kennedy

    "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too." With this lyrical sentence, Gail Caldwell opens her story of her friendship with the writer Caroline Knapp. Both its gentleness and its foreboding draw the reader in to this finely told tale of love and grief. Not many people treasure a friendship as deeply as did these two writers who for most of their lives were introverted, and content to be so. "As much as I complained about my soli "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too." With this lyrical sentence, Gail Caldwell opens her story of her friendship with the writer Caroline Knapp. Both its gentleness and its foreboding draw the reader in to this finely told tale of love and grief. Not many people treasure a friendship as deeply as did these two writers who for most of their lives were introverted, and content to be so. "As much as I complained about my solitude, I also required it," Ms. Caldwell writes. Yet in the end, the two women's lives become so entwined in friendship that Ms. Caldwell can say, "My life had made so much sense alongside hers." The women share their many passions, especially those of writing and of their dogs. Their friendship blossoms in parks and along trails as they walk their pets. They also encourage each other in their separate passions of swimming and rowing. Each woman becomes open to learning and excelling at the other's sport, and another strong bond is formed. Ms. Caldwell also explores their shared history as recovered alcoholics. As a woman who must absorb the loss of her friend in death, Ms. Caldwell writes thoughtfully about how "the heart breaks open." Every friend would wish to be remembered as lovingly as Ms. Caldwell has memorialized her friend Caroline Knapp.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bri

    Excuse my language but HOLY HELL THIS BOOK LEFT ME HOLLOWED THE FUCK OUT. “They take everything” is right, Gail Caldwell. YOU scooped out all my fragile insides and left my heart right there on the ground. Anyway RTC for this perfect memoir.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    A memoir about friendship, the death of a friend, dogs, tough life moments, alcoholism, living. Some of my favorite quotes: It's taken years for me to understand that dying doesn't end the story; it transforms it. Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue. Most of us wander in and out of one another's lives until not death, but distance, does us part-time and space and the heart's weariness are the blander executioners of human connection. The only education in grief that any of us A memoir about friendship, the death of a friend, dogs, tough life moments, alcoholism, living. Some of my favorite quotes: It's taken years for me to understand that dying doesn't end the story; it transforms it. Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue. Most of us wander in and out of one another's lives until not death, but distance, does us part-time and space and the heart's weariness are the blander executioners of human connection. The only education in grief that any of us ever gets is a crash course. I thought grief was a simple, wrenching realm of sadness and longing that gradually receded. What that definition left out was the body blow that loss inflicts, as well as the temporary madness, and a range of less straightforward emotions shocking in their intensity. Everything about death is a cliché until you're in it. ...death left me with a great and terrible gift: how to live in a world where loss, some of it unbearable, is as common as dust or moonlight. The dead protect us. I feel this now with an almost fierce relief. Courage under fire....And whether one attributes this attachment to memory or to God, it is a consolation unlike any I have known. Thou art with me. Maybe this is the point: to embrace the core sadness of life without toppling headlong into it, or assuming it will define your days. The real trick is to let life, with all its ordinary missteps and regrets, be consistently more mysterious and alluring than its end. The heart breaks open. I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.

  16. 4 out of 5

    K

    Using my new Nook is so much fun, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to carry me through this book. I barely made it through 50 pages. The writing showed a lot of promise, and I was hoping that this memoir of a friendship would have the poignancy and insight of Truth & Beauty: A Friendship. It started off good, as Caldwell wrote about the loss of her friend. The book quickly became boring, though, as it evolved into a lengthy and detailed discussion of dog-raising (not a topic that grabs me) foll Using my new Nook is so much fun, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to carry me through this book. I barely made it through 50 pages. The writing showed a lot of promise, and I was hoping that this memoir of a friendship would have the poignancy and insight of Truth & Beauty: A Friendship. It started off good, as Caldwell wrote about the loss of her friend. The book quickly became boring, though, as it evolved into a lengthy and detailed discussion of dog-raising (not a topic that grabs me) followed by a drawn-out description of the author's alcoholism as a young adult. The high average goodreads rating and the book's listing by Amazon as a Best Book of 2010 suggest that I'm in the minority here, but despite my being spared the need to hold a thick book or the dreadful annoyance of turning pages (who knew?), I simply wasn't motivated to read any farther.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Nice to read alongside Caroline Knapp's memoir, Drinking: A Love Story. Both these books are due a revival in my estimation. Their depiction of alcoholism was to my understanding by the time I picked them up, but would have seemed counterintuitive before I'd read more recent memoirs like Sara Hepola's Blackout, or even Whitney Cummings' I'm Fine and Other Lies. Does every generation really need its own books like this, or are the newer books obscuring these ones? Neither is true nor false. Without Nice to read alongside Caroline Knapp's memoir, Drinking: A Love Story. Both these books are due a revival in my estimation. Their depiction of alcoholism was to my understanding by the time I picked them up, but would have seemed counterintuitive before I'd read more recent memoirs like Sara Hepola's Blackout, or even Whitney Cummings' I'm Fine and Other Lies. Does every generation really need its own books like this, or are the newer books obscuring these ones? Neither is true nor false. Without the success of Knapp's memoir, I don't know that this would have been an interesting book on its own. I don't know what my point is here, either. I wish they'd liked cats instead of dogs, though. Skipped the dog bits—had no sympathy ;)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    A tender and heart-wrenching memoir about female friendship, dogs, love, loss, and truth. We should all be so lucky to find a friendship like Gail and Caroline shared in our own lives.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan Ideus

    Gail Caldwell celebrates her extraordinary friendship with fellow writer Caroline Knapp in LET"S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME. It is a touching, honest, and often humorous look at their relationship–how they met, why they bonded, and what kept them together. Her memories are clear and deep, and she shares them all, not shying away from the unpleasant nor overwhelming with the too saccharine. Both women were recovering alcoholics; both were writers; both loved their dogs beyond normal reason. It was this latt Gail Caldwell celebrates her extraordinary friendship with fellow writer Caroline Knapp in LET"S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME. It is a touching, honest, and often humorous look at their relationship–how they met, why they bonded, and what kept them together. Her memories are clear and deep, and she shares them all, not shying away from the unpleasant nor overwhelming with the too saccharine. Both women were recovering alcoholics; both were writers; both loved their dogs beyond normal reason. It was this latter commonality that brought them together in the first place. They talked about their dogs as other women might their children. They were always together, dogs and masters, whether in training, walking, or vacationing. Both women were competitive. Caldwell excelled in swimming and Knapp in rowing. Each taught the other her sport while still maintaining an edge. Their personalities complemented one another, as is the case of many lasting friendships. Caldwell was the risk-taker, the bold one, while Knapp was the more conservative good girl. They simply loved sharing life and Knapp would often say at the end of a day, “Let’s take the long way home…” While neither hid her addiction from the other, it was not a regular topic of conversation; it was a silent partner in their relationship always lending an immediate depth that might have otherwise taken years to develop. Of it Caldwell says, “Deeper than most of the most obvious parallels between us was the drinking history we had in common–that empty room in the heart that is the essence of addiction.” It did not rule their relationship, but rather lent it a special sensitivity, a knowing of the other. Caldwell later remarks “…the real need was soldered by the sadder, harder moments–discord or helplessness or fear–that we dared to expose to each other. It took me years to grasp that this grit and discomfort in any relationship are the indicator of closeness, not its opposite.” As they shared every aspect of their lives, expecting to go on into old age as best friends, there came an event which blind-sided them both. Knapp was diagnosed with a virulent fast-moving lung cancer. “Before one enters this spectrum of sorrow, which changes even the color of trees, there is a blind and daringly wrong assumption that probably allows us to blunder through the days. There is a way one thinks that the show will never end–or that loss, when it comes, will be toward the end of the road, not in its middle.” From that time forward, life as they knew it spiraled away from them. Here was the one experience they couldn’t truly share, but they could and would go through it together. As quickly as this phase of their life began, it was over–Knapp’s death coming more quickly than anyone could have anticipated. Now there was just left to Caldwell to go on with life with a hole rent through it. Nothing would or could ever be the same. Life would now be processed through a different lens. “What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.” This is as honest a narrative of friendship, loyalty, loss, and grief as I have ever read. Caldwell’s words are powerful and genuine, and will gladden your heart with the good times, and wrench your soul with their stark pain. Caldwell is that kind of writer, and readers will be the richer for reading this book. AuthorInfo: Author info: Gail Caldwell is the 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner for Criticism. She is the former chief book critic for the Boston Globe where she worked for over twenty years. She has also published a memoir of growing up in the Amarillo, Texas area–A Strong West Wind. She holds two degrees in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I received a copy of this book for review from the author, publisher, or publicist.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Let’s Take the Long Way Home belongs in the annals of books with memorable opening sentences. It begins: It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too. Gail Caldwell is a Pulitzer prizing winning writer and this is her story about her extraordinary friendship with writer Caroline Knapp. Her story struck a very personal note with me. I had a similar friendship and a similar loss. Gail Caldwell said: “I knew I would never have an Let’s Take the Long Way Home belongs in the annals of books with memorable opening sentences. It begins: It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too. Gail Caldwell is a Pulitzer prizing winning writer and this is her story about her extraordinary friendship with writer Caroline Knapp. Her story struck a very personal note with me. I had a similar friendship and a similar loss. Gail Caldwell said: “I knew I would never have another friend like Caroline; I suspected no one would ever know me so well again. Her death was what I had now instead of her.” I cried at that, because I know exactly what she meant. Finding Caroline was like placing a personal ad for an imaginary friend, then having her show up at your door funnier and better than you had conceived. Several years into their friendship, Caroline, at age 42, is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. She is diagnosed in April, married her long time boyfriend in May, and died in June. And Gail is left untethered. I found myself a little jealous that Caroline and Gail had time to say good-bye as my friend literally dropped dead from a ruptured brain aneurysm. But then Gail said: “Suffering is what changes the endgame, changes death’s mantle from black to white. It is a badly lit corridor outside of time, a place of crushing weariness, the only thing large enough to bully you into holding the door for death.” I feel selfish for having wanted that – more time, at risk of her suffering. Another part of Gail and Caroline’s story that I related to was their love for their dogs. The book title comes from their many walks together with their dogs. Several years after Caroline’s death, Gail talks about her dog Clementine aging and knowing she will lose her, too. When Clementine is 12-years old, Gail says to her, “Let’s see if you can make it to thirteen. Can we do that?” Damn, if I didn’t have a similar conversation with my dog when she was eighteen, and I could see the writing on the wall. And this is the kicker, after Clementine dies, when she finally gets another dog, she names her Tula. That was my dog’s name. I cried some more. That is a fresher loss; my Tula died in March of this year. It’s hard for me to know if others will love this book as much as I did because it was so close to home for me. She said so eloquently so many things that I have thought but struggled to find the words to say. It’s taken years for me to understand that dying doesn’t end the story; it transforms it. Edits, rewrites, the blur and the epiphany of one-way dialogue. Until Caroline died I had belonged to that other world, the place of innocence and linear expectations, where I thought grief was a simple, wrenching realm of sadness and longing that gradually receded. What that definition left out was the body blow that loss inflicts, as well as the temporary madness, and a range of less straightforward emotions shocking in their intensity. Hope in the beginning feels like such a violation of the loss, and yet without it we couldn’t survive. Like a starfish, the heart endures its amputation.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    My God, I loved this book. I loved it as a woman with deep female friendships, I loved it as an introvert with a passion for solitude, I loved it as an adult transplant to Cambridge and Boston, I loved it as one who has suffered the illness of a close friend.....I just loved it. Heart-wrenching, but so clear-eyed and wonderful. Throughout, I thought again and again of this Rilke quote (which, to be honest, I could not remember was Rilke, but just heard vaguely echoing through my head): "Love con My God, I loved this book. I loved it as a woman with deep female friendships, I loved it as an introvert with a passion for solitude, I loved it as an adult transplant to Cambridge and Boston, I loved it as one who has suffered the illness of a close friend.....I just loved it. Heart-wrenching, but so clear-eyed and wonderful. Throughout, I thought again and again of this Rilke quote (which, to be honest, I could not remember was Rilke, but just heard vaguely echoing through my head): "Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other." With "Let's Take The Long Way" Caldwell lays bare the intimacy of her incredible relationship with her best friend and soulmate, vividly portraying the ways in which they broached, and pushed through, and protected each others solitude. This memoir is an incredible act of love, of bravery, and gratitude, and humility, and it is truly a gift to us all.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Antonia

    Beautiful, moving memoir of a precious friendship. I loved everything about it. And I cried.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Desiree Koh

    Gail Caldwell wrote “Let’s Take the Long Way Home” to remember her friend Caroline Knapp, who died way too soon. It’s a memoir of their friendship – how they met, why their friendship was so profound, the devastation of being forcibly separated and without warning. Caldwell is a notable, skilful writer and I was excited to read her interpretation of something that is so close and near to my heart – friendship. Her prose is beautiful, and what takes it from poetry on a page to something integrally Gail Caldwell wrote “Let’s Take the Long Way Home” to remember her friend Caroline Knapp, who died way too soon. It’s a memoir of their friendship – how they met, why their friendship was so profound, the devastation of being forcibly separated and without warning. Caldwell is a notable, skilful writer and I was excited to read her interpretation of something that is so close and near to my heart – friendship. Her prose is beautiful, and what takes it from poetry on a page to something integrally existential that’s been inserted into your heart is recognizing everything Caldwell describes and recounts. Same stories, different characters. Same context, different content. For the first part of her narrative, I almost wanted to cry with each page, because I saw and recognized so much of the emotions and the reasons for treasuring your best friend. But then, Caldwell abruptly parted ways when she started to talk about her battle with alcoholism, which is when the book started to be all about her, and friendships aren’t just about one person. I appreciate what she went through – it was actually very well-written and heart-wrenching, and it helped me understand the sadness and weakness of the addiction more than I ever had – but it wasn’t what I had come for. There was a reason for including this in the book – both Caldwell and Knapp had been recovered alcoholics – but the problem was that this chapter went on way too long, and from then on, the book became all about her. And maybe that was why she wrote it, to help her come to terms with the loss, so it was really supposed to be about her, but like the unraveling of Gail Caldwell through alcoholism and the grief over Caroline Knapp’s death, so does the book spiral into an unwelcoming abyss of self-indulgence and mental meanderings. Caldwell starts to come across as that crazy, single, older dog lady – and she is. I suppose there wasn’t any other way to tell the story – it’s not like Caroline’s death was anticipated and she could have been able to tell about the friendship from another perspective. And there would have been no other or better way to recognize the friendship than by sharing her grief. But, I stopped making markings because the writing felt simpler and less pretty as the book went on and I stopped relating to Caldwell. Maybe it’s because my best friend isn’t dying, or has died. This is the book I hope neither of us ever has to write. I can’t explain rationally why I stopped liking the book. I’m not doing Caldwell’s craft any justice I’m sure. It doesn’t help that I dislike dogs, which are at the core of Caldwell and Knapp’s friendship – their love for their dogs brought them together. Perhaps I expected grief to be more heightened, maybe more dramatic to lend itself to more beautiful prose. But that is not the reality of devastation through loss and Caldwell might have done us all a favor by letting us know the truth.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelly McCloskey-Romero

    When I first picked this one out of my stack of library books and read a few pages, I wasn’t so sure. How could a book about a friendship between two single women with dogs resonate? I felt a little jealous, a little grumpy, a lot closed minded. So I left the book on my nightstand for two weeks, the place where I put my glasses at the end of the night, after getting sleepy while reading something else. And then I decided to try it again. I’m so glad I did. Caldwell is a brilliant writer, and her When I first picked this one out of my stack of library books and read a few pages, I wasn’t so sure. How could a book about a friendship between two single women with dogs resonate? I felt a little jealous, a little grumpy, a lot closed minded. So I left the book on my nightstand for two weeks, the place where I put my glasses at the end of the night, after getting sleepy while reading something else. And then I decided to try it again. I’m so glad I did. Caldwell is a brilliant writer, and her life, so different from my own, is fascinating. She narrates a love affair of a friendship, two people who connect and share and grow together, and then one of them dies. The story is not so much focused on beloved Caroline’s death, but rather on the life that Gail and Caroline shared, walking their dogs in expansive fields in all seasons, talking and talking and talking, and rowing their way across the river. Caldwell makes these ordinary everyday activities seem adventurous, and they were. These two single women, writers, dog lovers, create their lives on their own terms. I wouldn’t trade my family life, my extroverted nature, or my cat on my lap for their lives or their dogs, but I envy their intimacy and their self determination. A beautiful book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie G.

    This is a beautiful memoir of friendship and about how we are changed by the experience. I loved Caroline Knapp's writing and was really heartbroken when she died of lung cancer. It was my respect for Ms. Knapp that drew me to this book about Knapp and Caldwell's friendship. Caldwell writes with the same grace and elegance, and complete lack of sentimentality Caroline Knapp displayed when writing about the most intimate things. I want to add that this is what it says it is, a memoir of friendshi This is a beautiful memoir of friendship and about how we are changed by the experience. I loved Caroline Knapp's writing and was really heartbroken when she died of lung cancer. It was my respect for Ms. Knapp that drew me to this book about Knapp and Caldwell's friendship. Caldwell writes with the same grace and elegance, and complete lack of sentimentality Caroline Knapp displayed when writing about the most intimate things. I want to add that this is what it says it is, a memoir of friendship. This is not a memoir of death. There is very little time spent describing Knapp's illness and death. This ain't Beaches. There is nothing intrinsically meaningful about people dying young. It happens. It is bad. This is about life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Carter

    Wow, first I must talk about a weird little coincidence. The previous book I’d read was by Anita Shreve, and it had been recommended to me by a friend (dead for many years now) and this book I pick up next to read: Let’s take the long way home: a memoir of friendship by Gail Caldwell Brings back so many memories of that friend I’d lost. Gail Caldwell is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, (though not for this book). She was awarded the prize for eight Sunday reviews and two other columns written in Wow, first I must talk about a weird little coincidence. The previous book I’d read was by Anita Shreve, and it had been recommended to me by a friend (dead for many years now) and this book I pick up next to read: Let’s take the long way home: a memoir of friendship by Gail Caldwell Brings back so many memories of that friend I’d lost. Gail Caldwell is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, (though not for this book). She was awarded the prize for eight Sunday reviews and two other columns written in 2000. She is also the former chief book critic for the Boston Globe where she was a staff writer and critic for more than twenty years. She is also the author a memoir of her native Texas. This book has some interesting parts to it and others that for me were not that interesting. I wasn’t interesting in rowing or so that deeply interested in reading about their dogs. I guess I was looking for more of the human story of these two women. And that’s what interested me most. This is the story of an extraordinary bond between two women and how they met through their dogs. The friend she reflects on is Carolyn Knapp author of drinking: a love story. Knapp was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. They both had a shared history of a struggle with alcohol which I found the most interesting part of this book. (also, coincidently, drinking was the topic of the previous Anita Shreve book I’d just read). Drinking also played a significant part in my life. I’ve been on all sides of alcoholism. She says so much about drinking that hits home for me: page 78 if our individual pasts with alcohol were familiar, the more intricate and lasting truth we shared was about the ability to change — the belief that life was hard and often its worst battles were fought in private, that it was possible to walk through fear and come out scorched but still breathing. Page 74 The self becoming: in my first year of sobriety, I heard a woman at an AA meeting describe the day in, day out pact with tedium and despair and that alcoholism had meant for her. “I would go out and live my life," she said, “and then come home at the end of the day and drink six beers to make it all go away. It was like covering a blackboard with writing every morning and then that night erasing everything you’ve learned.” This story stayed with me as a mantra and an explanation. What I couldn’t have known, in the drinking years, was that alcohol was my shortcut to the stars, and that there are no shortcuts, not without a price. The drink had salved, not solved the problems; it had blurred the lessons of a bad day or a celebration or any of the incremental turtle steps that constitute experience. I love on page 53 when a therapist asked: why did I drink? Her answer was because, the whole world turned golden. It took me hearing the words out loud to realize that the hue of the sublime had itself been that an indicator of trouble. All in all, this book is a keeper for me!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Day

    This is one of those cases where I feel like anything I say in this review will either cheapen my experience with the book or vastly understate how wonderful a book it was. Hopefully that disclaimer will at least give you some idea as to how much this book affected and moved me. Caldwell begins the book informing the reader that it’s about friendship and loss as seen through the lens of her close friendship with Caroline Knapp, who passed away from cancer about nine years ago. After a bit of back This is one of those cases where I feel like anything I say in this review will either cheapen my experience with the book or vastly understate how wonderful a book it was. Hopefully that disclaimer will at least give you some idea as to how much this book affected and moved me. Caldwell begins the book informing the reader that it’s about friendship and loss as seen through the lens of her close friendship with Caroline Knapp, who passed away from cancer about nine years ago. After a bit of background, Caldwell begins to move through the story of their friendship in a mostly chronological way. Intermingled with stories about them, Caldwell discusses how their friendship was predicated on their love for their dogs and the loyalty each felt to her specific canine companion. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but want to just reemphasize how beautiful Caldwell’s writing is and how desperately hard I was trying not to completely break down in a sobbing, ugly-cry by the end of the book. If you have ever felt any kind of loss, you will be stunned by the visceral reaction you are sure to have when Caldwell’s emotions touch your own heart. This isn’t a long book, but it’s just long enough. It’s a book I’m not likely to forget any time soon, and although I may have made it seem sad or haunting, it’s not necessary either one of those. There is an inherent hope and happiness to a book like this and it will make you all the more grateful for the similar experiences you may have had with real life friends or canine ones.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pixelina

    Another memoir of grief, this time the sorrow of losing a best friend, but also about the great joy in finding her in the first place. Gail meets Caroline, 8 years younger then her, but also a writer and also a recovering addict and just as crazy as she is about dogs. They almost grow into one, they each get involved with every aspect of each others lives and share swimming, rowing, walking and training dogs. I've read a lot of books on grief lately, perhaps because my parents are getting up ther Another memoir of grief, this time the sorrow of losing a best friend, but also about the great joy in finding her in the first place. Gail meets Caroline, 8 years younger then her, but also a writer and also a recovering addict and just as crazy as she is about dogs. They almost grow into one, they each get involved with every aspect of each others lives and share swimming, rowing, walking and training dogs. I've read a lot of books on grief lately, perhaps because my parents are getting up there in age and are not so healthy, it's like my brain needs to prepare even now for the worst. How to let time and your own body heal the wounds of a loss. Most poignant moment for me in the book was when Gail found a note she wrote for the script to this book and it spelled out loud and clear 'LET HER DIE' as in dare to go to that place, dare to shift from living wonderful Caroline to the hole Caroline left and not just in the book but in life too. Let her die. Let her be a loss, the imaginary friend, the guardian angel. Of course it also deals with the loss of a beloved pet, that can be just as hard to get over. Coming home to an empty house, going on walks alone seems almost not worth the time. How could any new puppy take the place of a companion you had for 13 years?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Annie Carrott Smith

    Omg - I had no idea how gut-wrenching this book would turn out to be. I knew the basic premise of 2 best friends - one has cancer and dies. But it was so much more than that. The insight into grief and life was so impactful and helps me to continue to process the loss of our son. Grief never ends but it is transformative.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    I wanted to love this book, and much of it was lovely. But I just didn't get pulled into the depth of their relationship. She told us how close they were, rather than show us, which just kept me at a distance.

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