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A powerful exploration of grief and resilience following the death of the author's son that combines memoir, reportage, and lessons in how to heal Everyone deals with grief in their own way. Helen Macdonald found solace in training a wild gos­hawk. Cheryl Strayed found strength in hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. For Carol Smith, a Pulitzer Prize­ nominated journalist strug A powerful exploration of grief and resilience following the death of the author's son that combines memoir, reportage, and lessons in how to heal Everyone deals with grief in their own way. Helen Macdonald found solace in training a wild gos­hawk. Cheryl Strayed found strength in hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. For Carol Smith, a Pulitzer Prize­ nominated journalist struggling with the sudden death of her seven-year-old son, Christopher, the way to cross the river of sorrow was through work. In Crossing the River, Smith recounts how she faced down her crippling loss through reporting a series of profiles of people coping with their own intense chal­lenges, whether a life-altering accident, injury, or diag­nosis. These were stories of survival and transformation, of people facing devastating situations that changed them in unexpected ways. Smith deftly mixes the stories of these individuals and their families with her own account of how they helped her heal. General John Shalikashvili, once the most powerful member of the American military, taught Carol how to face fear with discipline and endurance. Seth, a young boy with a rare and incurable illness, shed light on the totality of her son's experiences, and in turn helps readers see that the value of a life is not measured in days. Crossing the River is a beautiful and profoundly moving book, an unforgettable journey through grief toward hope, and a valuable, illuminating read for anyone coping with loss.  


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A powerful exploration of grief and resilience following the death of the author's son that combines memoir, reportage, and lessons in how to heal Everyone deals with grief in their own way. Helen Macdonald found solace in training a wild gos­hawk. Cheryl Strayed found strength in hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. For Carol Smith, a Pulitzer Prize­ nominated journalist strug A powerful exploration of grief and resilience following the death of the author's son that combines memoir, reportage, and lessons in how to heal Everyone deals with grief in their own way. Helen Macdonald found solace in training a wild gos­hawk. Cheryl Strayed found strength in hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. For Carol Smith, a Pulitzer Prize­ nominated journalist struggling with the sudden death of her seven-year-old son, Christopher, the way to cross the river of sorrow was through work. In Crossing the River, Smith recounts how she faced down her crippling loss through reporting a series of profiles of people coping with their own intense chal­lenges, whether a life-altering accident, injury, or diag­nosis. These were stories of survival and transformation, of people facing devastating situations that changed them in unexpected ways. Smith deftly mixes the stories of these individuals and their families with her own account of how they helped her heal. General John Shalikashvili, once the most powerful member of the American military, taught Carol how to face fear with discipline and endurance. Seth, a young boy with a rare and incurable illness, shed light on the totality of her son's experiences, and in turn helps readers see that the value of a life is not measured in days. Crossing the River is a beautiful and profoundly moving book, an unforgettable journey through grief toward hope, and a valuable, illuminating read for anyone coping with loss.  

30 review for Crossing the River

  1. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    I would read in the New York Times that in the Khmer language, the term for giving birth — chlong tonle — means “to cross the river”. The phrase startled me. I put the paper down, then picked it up and reread it. Exactly, I thought. This gave me a way to describe my life back then. Losing Christopher was like having to make the dangerous journey back across the river. Every day felt like drowning. There were times I wanted to yield to it, to go into the stillness below the rush of the current an I would read in the New York Times that in the Khmer language, the term for giving birth — chlong tonle — means “to cross the river”. The phrase startled me. I put the paper down, then picked it up and reread it. Exactly, I thought. This gave me a way to describe my life back then. Losing Christopher was like having to make the dangerous journey back across the river. Every day felt like drowning. There were times I wanted to yield to it, to go into the stillness below the rush of the current and watch the light fade from beneath the surface. Reporting stories like Seth’s became my lifeline. It kept me above the waves, kept me from giving in. These people I reported on were the ones who showed me the way back across the river. Crossing the River is a memoir of grief by Carol Smith (*not the same Carol Smith that Goodreads has identified as the author of this book*), who was blind-sided by the sudden death of her son when he was seven years old. Although born with health challenges (and declared by doctors at the time to be suffering conditions “incompatible with life”), Christopher defied the early odds and was growing into a sweet and capable little boy when his life was cut short. The grief that descended onto Smith was overwhelming and lasted for decades, but as an award-winning newspaper journalist who specialises in medical stories, she would eventually write about many people who were facing incredible health challenges that would show Smith a pathway for dealing with her own pain. This was a hard book to read (perhaps a harder book to rate), but I truly appreciate the honesty, humanity, and vulnerability that Smith displays here. Her voice is clear and engaging, and through the stories of the seven individuals about whom she writes, Smith eventually relates her own entire history — before and after her time with Christopher — and besides being a moving look into a difficult life, I can see how this might be a useful resource for others suffering debilitating loss. (Note: I read an ARC through NetGalley and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) There is something called complicated grief, or in clinical terms, persistent complex bereavement disorder. It’s when you cannot accept a death. When you cannot resume your own living after a “normal” period of sorrow. I don’t know whether a clinician would apply this term to me. I do know this. After Christopher’s death, I lived in fear. I was afraid of forgetting who Christopher was, of letting go of him. Afraid I had failed him in his life and death, that I hadn’t been there to say goodbye. I lived warily, avoiding entanglements of all kinds, especially relationships, especially children. I dissociated from my own life, living in an orbit that let me slide frictionless through my days, interacting only with my small circle of close friends, who were exceedingly patient with me. Carol Smith’s story of losing her son is profoundly moving and the stories she shares of seven of the people she profiled over the years (a burn victim, a double amputee, a boy with a terminal illness) each provided her with a lesson that she could apply to her own life (on resilience, gratitude, recognising that Christopher had made the most of the days he had been given). Smith obviously connected deeply with these people — she writes about continuing to visit with some of them long after their stories had been published in her newspaper — and her compassionate writing style brings all of these people to breathing life. If I had the smallest of complaints it would be the slightest sense that these people and their suffering were somehow intentionally put into Smith’s path in order to teach her these lessons. In the chapter on General John Shalikashvili (a United States Army general who served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 1992 to 1993 and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997) and the stroke that forced him to relearn basic functions, Smith writes: Strokes are one of the great levelers in life. A stroke strips you of control. It forces you to start over, relearn basic skills from how to chew and swallow to how to read, speak, and walk, depending on which area of the brain is damaged. Grief, in some sense, had done the same to me. Everything required deliberate effort. Eating, sleeping, getting up in the morning. Nothing was by rote. I moved in slow motion, executing the daily mechanics of life against the weight of water. Grief had knocked me off balance. Forced me to rewire, reexamine my relationships, reconsider my future. It had removed the illusion of control. But the nurse’s words to Shali were strangely hopeful to me. Only when the body understands, he’d said. Not if. Obviously, this is Smith’s memoir and it’s appropriate for her to relate everything she experiences back to herself but if these were my experiences, I wouldn’t want them treated as universal object lessons instead of something more deeply and uniquely personal (if that makes sense?) At any rate, Crossing the River is moving and thought-provoking, and ultimately, inspirational. I am grateful to Carol Smith for sharing Christopher with us.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Reid

    Nothing is more devastating than the loss of a child, I suspect. I suppose this is open to debate and pondering a hierarchy of pain is a fruitless exercise in any case. But we are hardwired to protect and love our children, to the point that even the sacrifice of our own lives to save theirs is something most parents assume they would be willing to do. I know that, though my "little boy" is 38 years old, I would be leveled if he was no longer in my life. Carol Smith went through a hell of loss an Nothing is more devastating than the loss of a child, I suspect. I suppose this is open to debate and pondering a hierarchy of pain is a fruitless exercise in any case. But we are hardwired to protect and love our children, to the point that even the sacrifice of our own lives to save theirs is something most parents assume they would be willing to do. I know that, though my "little boy" is 38 years old, I would be leveled if he was no longer in my life. Carol Smith went through a hell of loss and pain even before her son's sudden death. Christopher was born with a developmental malfunction in his kidneys which led to further complications and eventually to a kidney transplant. And just when he appeared to be reaching for a somewhat normal life following this procedure, an unrelated malformation took his life at the age of seven. Smith is a journalist and, soon after her son's death, moved back to Seattle to work on a newspaper there. In the course of her reporting, she found many people who inspired her to look on her grief and suffering in different ways, to find inspiration and hope in some of the most unlikely places. She slowly emerged from her isolation and pain to welcome people back into her life. It is exceedingly difficult to read about something as precious and delicate as a mother's grief and provide an objective review of the book that contains it. Such feeling seems as if it should be sacred and sacrosanct, but the reality is that, no matter how much respect I have for the person and the feelings conveyed, not every such memoir is created equal. Sadly, Crossing The River is packed with cliches, self-pity, and sophistry and, despite the fascinating stories it contains, is not a well-written book. The metaphors and analogies are quite often stretched out of all proportion and don't rise to the level of inspiration or hope Smith is clearly intending to convey. And despite how she seems to be centering the stories of others, every word is intended to convey how very courageous she is, which both belabors the comparison and puts her in the spotlight, the reflected light of other people's courage lighting her up. Yes, it makes me feel guilty to write a negative review of this courageous and heartfelt memoir. But it would be a disservice (and condescending) to give it a pass because of the its content. I am glad that Carol Smith is finding a road out of the valley of the shadow of death and admire her for sharing her journey with us. I could only wish that the effort had yielded a better book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    This book was an exceptionally challenging book to read. Smith details her journey to coping with the passing of her child by throwing herself into work and telling the stories of others. She then turns those experiences into her book and each event/person helps her grow and cope with her loss. This book was exceptionally gut-wrenching and I found it difficult to get through. Whilst I appreciate writing as a process to cope with trauma, this book felt at times like a therapy journal or request f This book was an exceptionally challenging book to read. Smith details her journey to coping with the passing of her child by throwing herself into work and telling the stories of others. She then turns those experiences into her book and each event/person helps her grow and cope with her loss. This book was exceptionally gut-wrenching and I found it difficult to get through. Whilst I appreciate writing as a process to cope with trauma, this book felt at times like a therapy journal or request from a therapist. I have read and enjoyed many memoirs of grief and loss and other challenging reads, but I could not finish this. Perhaps it was the fact that I was reading this during lockdown in 2020, but I found myself distressed reading it and did not want to pick it up to finish it. The book was filled with a sense of foreboding and doom and the loss was too much. I could not connect with the idea of an eventual emotional pay off in order to get through this. I'm sorry for Smith's loss, but I would turn to Joan Didion or Max Porters if you wish to explore grief combined with beautiful thoughtful prose/poetry. I have experienced loss this year and I reread Didion and felt peace. This book just made me feel anxiety, sadness and stress.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Four and a half stars. Smith's debut is a powerful and unflinching look at loss, grieving, and finding life afterwards. It is not for the emotionally faint of heart; not only did Smith lose a young child but her subjects include a double amputee, burn victims, fellow bereaved parents, a stroke survivor, and more. Smith's own story is revealed slowly over the course of the book, and while I have read books by bereaved parents be I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Four and a half stars. Smith's debut is a powerful and unflinching look at loss, grieving, and finding life afterwards. It is not for the emotionally faint of heart; not only did Smith lose a young child but her subjects include a double amputee, burn victims, fellow bereaved parents, a stroke survivor, and more. Smith's own story is revealed slowly over the course of the book, and while I have read books by bereaved parents before, Smith's view is unique as her loss unfolds over decades - there was something particularly gutting about reading accounts of memorializing adult birthdays and events - such a crystal clear reminder of how losses like this live within us forever. Still, there is strength, there are moments of hope and optimism, and much inspiration to be found within this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Overmoyer

    "Crossing the River: Seven Stories That Saved My Life" is a sort of memoir in the form of a collection of essays. If you are looking for something hopeful and uplifting, this is not the memoir for you. If you are looking for something heavy and oppressive, this is the memoir for you. And is that because, in a way, it's almost like a survival guide. Carol Smith lays out the tools she discovered amidst all the pain and grief, the tools that helped her get from one day to the next. Because, and I ag "Crossing the River: Seven Stories That Saved My Life" is a sort of memoir in the form of a collection of essays. If you are looking for something hopeful and uplifting, this is not the memoir for you. If you are looking for something heavy and oppressive, this is the memoir for you. And is that because, in a way, it's almost like a survival guide. Carol Smith lays out the tools she discovered amidst all the pain and grief, the tools that helped her get from one day to the next. Because, and I agree with this thinking, sometimes it is all you can do. Ms. Smith immersed herself, as a newspaper journalist, in struggle and tragedy after the personal struggle and tragedy she had endured, and would never really not be enduring, that came with the severe illness and eventual death of her small son. Some people can't do that, some people can't read that. Some people need to put their grief There and move to Other Things. In a way, it seems like Ms. Smith needed her grief to be always right Here while she lost herself in stories cut through with undercurrents of grief and struggle, because in seeing others survive, shew as able to remind herself that she could do it too. None of the seven stories are easy to read, easy to digest and appreciate. But there is a raw beauty in the pain in them, and that's what makes tomorrow possible... the painful beauty that living can be. Publication Date: May 4, 2021 (Thanks to NetGalley and Abrams Press for the chance to read an early copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    readers creators

    Memoirs let you be a part of someone else’s story; and when someone is sharing the most tragic phase of their life and you become a part in their grief, you also evolve through that phase and fall into a new bright one with them. The resilience of author, bring a similar kind of power in the reader too. Being a journalist by profession; Carol Smith’s memoir is a journey through her grief & estrangement, following her son’s death; presenting reports of people who are going through same phase as he Memoirs let you be a part of someone else’s story; and when someone is sharing the most tragic phase of their life and you become a part in their grief, you also evolve through that phase and fall into a new bright one with them. The resilience of author, bring a similar kind of power in the reader too. Being a journalist by profession; Carol Smith’s memoir is a journey through her grief & estrangement, following her son’s death; presenting reports of people who are going through same phase as hers at the same time. More than half the book, will let you feel the depth of pain, loss of a loved one, feeling like the end of world, loneliness, broken, defeated and surrendering to all these catastrophic situations. But the climax will lead you to an opposite path, where the vague images of betterment will start getting clear; and your heart will attain the strength of hoping again. Practical examples like this book; are best motivation. No matter how dark it gets, no matter if it seems like an end; there will be no end until there will be the end. Life is hard and it can get harder sometimes; but there’s always a beam of light peeking through one corner, we just have to search for that and we will never be lost again.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    This book is at the same time personal and universal. Carol Smith smoothly intertwines narration of the tragedy of her own life – the death of her young son – with stories about tragedies in other people’s lives. Being a medical reporter puts her in a unique position to find people who are facing challenging circumstances and become immersed in their lives over a period of weeks or months. I found the book readable – it kept me interested from chapter to chapter. Her own story and those of her i This book is at the same time personal and universal. Carol Smith smoothly intertwines narration of the tragedy of her own life – the death of her young son – with stories about tragedies in other people’s lives. Being a medical reporter puts her in a unique position to find people who are facing challenging circumstances and become immersed in their lives over a period of weeks or months. I found the book readable – it kept me interested from chapter to chapter. Her own story and those of her interviewees are tightly woven together. It was heartening to watch as she grappled with her own grief, drawing solace and courage as she spent time with others who wrestled with different, but equally devastating, situations. For me, the main takeaway was that suffering painful circumstances is part of being human and that a path toward healing is formed by being present with other’s pain, as well as with ones own. Smith grew more open, with herself and others, acknowledging the joys and pain her son had brought into her life. As she did so, she was able to move forward in her own life. And I hope that reading her story will help others to do the same.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Beautiful but sad! Crossing the River is the memoir of Carol Smith and the death of Christopher, her seven year old son. She describes her grief as overwhelming and lasting for decades. Smith is also a journalist who specializes in medical stories so she had many opportunities to meet and interview people who were facing their own incredible health challenges and we are introduced to seven of them. Seven persons who provided her with seven lessons she could apply to her own grieving, healing and Beautiful but sad! Crossing the River is the memoir of Carol Smith and the death of Christopher, her seven year old son. She describes her grief as overwhelming and lasting for decades. Smith is also a journalist who specializes in medical stories so she had many opportunities to meet and interview people who were facing their own incredible health challenges and we are introduced to seven of them. Seven persons who provided her with seven lessons she could apply to her own grieving, healing and future. Smith borrowed her title from the 1993 novel by Caryl Phillips. "Crossing the river" is a metaphor for death and deliverance. It is an invitation for children to cross a river, to a new home, after they have passed on. In Phillips novel, it is about the great obstacles Africans overcame during their lives after being forcefully displaced from the life they knew and planned for. In Smith's version of Crossing the River, we follow Christopher's illness and death. We see the disconnect from the life she has planned for and her own path to deliverance. Smith introduces us to the people she interviews, people with whom she develops real connections. They include a double amputee, a burn victim, a child with progeria (aging too rapidly and dying, usually, in their teens) and other catastrophic conditions. We feel their loneliness and see where they find hope and optimism. We learn the lessons that Smith did as she spent time with each individual. Maybe it is because we are just closing out Pandemic of 2020, but I could not find that same sense of hope or optimism. Smith writes with a beautiful honesty and vulnerability. Her connection with the seven persons in these stories is real and compassionate. But, honestly the raw pain felt because of her excellent writing was too much for me. I had a hard time finishing it. Maybe if I had read it at any other time, I would have found it optimistic and uplifting but right now I found it more depressing that encouraging. I want to thank BookBrowse for the ARC opportunity to read Crossing the River.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joan Bechtold

    Carol Smith's memoir, Crossing the River, is a beautiful and heart-wrenching depiction of grief as a lived experience and her search for how to move forward after the death of her son at the age of seven. The phrase "crossing the river" is a translation of the Khmer phrase for giving birth, but to the author the phrase also comes to mean both drowning in grief after losing her son and ultimately being able to let him go by literally scattering his ashes above the river they loved to watch togeth Carol Smith's memoir, Crossing the River, is a beautiful and heart-wrenching depiction of grief as a lived experience and her search for how to move forward after the death of her son at the age of seven. The phrase "crossing the river" is a translation of the Khmer phrase for giving birth, but to the author the phrase also comes to mean both drowning in grief after losing her son and ultimately being able to let him go by literally scattering his ashes above the river they loved to watch together. As a journalist, the author heals herself through the power of the stories she writes about real people going through transformative experience of loss which bear upon some aspect of her own grief journey. Although this book will be especially helpful to parents grieving the death of a child, it is by no means so limited in scope. The author's experiences speak to anyone who is grieving and struggling to move forward in the face of overwhelming loss, particularly those suffering from complicated grief. The particular stories the author tells are uneven in terms of interest, and the book is incredibly difficult to read because it is so painful. It is certainly not a book to speed through, but rather to sit with and absorb over time. However, I am honored that the author shared her story and the story of her son Christopher, as well as the stories of the others who helped her cross the river again. Thanks to NetGalley and Abrams Press for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pramod

    CROSSING THE RIVER: SEVEN STORIES THAT SAVED MY LIFE A MEMOIR BY CAROL SMITH PUBLISHED BY ABRAHAM PRESS #netgalley, # abrahamspress, # carolsmith I rate it as a 5 star read. Carol Smith has written a memoir about the loss of her son and the grief and trauma associated with it and how she recovers from it. It is about mothers love and the joy of living. She lost her son, Christopher at age 7. He was born with a congenital developmental defect that blocked his urinary tract, damaging his kidneys. With ad CROSSING THE RIVER: SEVEN STORIES THAT SAVED MY LIFE A MEMOIR BY CAROL SMITH PUBLISHED BY ABRAHAM PRESS #netgalley, # abrahamspress, # carolsmith I rate it as a 5 star read. Carol Smith has written a memoir about the loss of her son and the grief and trauma associated with it and how she recovers from it. It is about mothers love and the joy of living. She lost her son, Christopher at age 7. He was born with a congenital developmental defect that blocked his urinary tract, damaging his kidneys. With advanced medical intervention and a kidney transplant he survives the disability. She gives up her solid newspaper job and moves to LA, where she could get remedial therapy and support for Christopher. With a mothers love for her child, they create a life that is beautiful and memorable and hoped that it will never end. Being a mother for the first time, she is totally swamped with love and happiness. And manages to enjoys life with him. Just as any parent would do. Finally, Christopher succumbs to his illness. This devastates Carol. She could not accept his death, more so because she was not present at his side when he died. It is devastating to lose a son so young, though medically compromised. Grief overtook her, medically termed Persistent Complex Bereavement Syndrome. She goes into self imposed exile. She goes into a withdrawal mode. Every moment she just thinks of her life with Christopher. After some time , Carol realizes that life must go on. As she notes “To overcome grief, one has to accept the loss of the person and adjust to life without that person.” She moves back to Seattle near her family and back to her newspaper job. There she gets the opportunity to report on medical matters. In this book, Carol chronicles 7 cases that she reported on that changed her outlook to life. Reporting on these stories and the people, she got emotionally involved. These stories become s her lifeline. And as she notes “they showed me the way back across the river”. They showed how to find balance, how to move forward and make peace with what we don’t control. These 7 persons with medical problems made her realize that “the art of life is in the mending broken dreams, broken promises, broken bodies”. “You have to choose to have hope” These are all inspirational stories. Carol has written a beautiful page turner of a memoir. I would recommend this book to all, especially those grieving over a loss of a dear one.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susanne

    Thank you to the author, Abrams Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is a memoir of a mother's journey through grief, a very personal and powerful record of the death of her young son and what that meant for her as a mother. This death must have been especially wrenching given that his prognosis at birth was very bad, and by the age of approx. 6 years his health had finally stabilized to the extent that cautious optimism was possible. The author is a journalist, a Thank you to the author, Abrams Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is a memoir of a mother's journey through grief, a very personal and powerful record of the death of her young son and what that meant for her as a mother. This death must have been especially wrenching given that his prognosis at birth was very bad, and by the age of approx. 6 years his health had finally stabilized to the extent that cautious optimism was possible. The author is a journalist, and the book unravels as a series of extended essays and glimpses into the lives of people who are struggling with health issues. Plunging into work is the way the author chooses to work through her grief - although for much of the book, it seems that her choice is to keep it close and foster it, rather than work through it. The encounters with her interview subjects fuel a paradigm shift and bit by bit the author is able to let go. Yes, the book centers and concentrates on the author, and yes, it's filled with self-pity and self-examination at times. No, the writing is not always great, but grief is raw and selfish. Personally, I found it a moving read, well worth the plunge into the heavy subject matter.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    Crossing the river tells the story of Carol Smith's grief for the loss of her 9-year-old son and the lessons she learnt from others. It's well written and interesting, but it felt strange to go from a journalistic style of storytelling to her deep thoughts and feelings and how she linked those stories to her own grief. I felt that in some parts I couldn't see the connection between what she was reporting on and her own story, and that those links felt forced at times. But then I realised that we Crossing the river tells the story of Carol Smith's grief for the loss of her 9-year-old son and the lessons she learnt from others. It's well written and interesting, but it felt strange to go from a journalistic style of storytelling to her deep thoughts and feelings and how she linked those stories to her own grief. I felt that in some parts I couldn't see the connection between what she was reporting on and her own story, and that those links felt forced at times. But then I realised that we all do this: someone else is talking and we have thoughts about some experience we've had and how similar it is to what they're saying (even if to others there's no resemblance/link at all). After that, my mind relaxed and I enjoyed reading the stories. As with any memory, I feel weird rating this book, because it feels like I am criticising her path through grief, and there's no "correct" way of grieving. Despite the indescribable pain that she has endured, the final message is of hope. Many thanks for NetGalley and Abrams Press for a free ARC in exchange of an honest opinion.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Ellison

    I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review of this book. Carol lost her son Christopher when he was only seven years old. Feeling like a shell of the mother she once was, she tried to bury her grief and return to the newsroom where she’d once worked. But the stories that called to her were the ones that mirrored some aspect of her loss—a boy with Progeria, burn and stroke victims, a general who suffered a stroke, a hospice nurse struggling with cancer, a double amputee, and a World War On I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review of this book. Carol lost her son Christopher when he was only seven years old. Feeling like a shell of the mother she once was, she tried to bury her grief and return to the newsroom where she’d once worked. But the stories that called to her were the ones that mirrored some aspect of her loss—a boy with Progeria, burn and stroke victims, a general who suffered a stroke, a hospice nurse struggling with cancer, a double amputee, and a World War One veteran didn’t share her war stories until she turned one hundred. Each interview Carol does teaches us something else about how to live through adversity with a sense of fortitude and grace. I read a lot of grief memoirs. Many are weighty tomes about tragedy and heartbreak. But Carol’s story is filled with so much life it was impossible to put down. Her writing is exquisite. The stories are vivid, engaging, and so well paced. I fell in love with Carol and her characters and found myself cheering them all on. If you want to understand parental grief and resilience, read this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Juli Bafunno

    Heartbreaking, but oh so valuable. This talented journalist writes with fondness and great appreciation for those who allowed their stories to intertwine with her own in this remarkably heartfelt account of loss, but also of finding "...balance, how to move forward, how to make peace with what we don't control" and "...that sadness does not mean the end of joy." Valuable lessons for those who have experienced grief certainly, but I wonder if the richness of these personal accounts are even more o Heartbreaking, but oh so valuable. This talented journalist writes with fondness and great appreciation for those who allowed their stories to intertwine with her own in this remarkably heartfelt account of loss, but also of finding "...balance, how to move forward, how to make peace with what we don't control" and "...that sadness does not mean the end of joy." Valuable lessons for those who have experienced grief certainly, but I wonder if the richness of these personal accounts are even more of a gift for readers who have yet to face such supreme life challenges? The author describes her seven years of parenting as "...a borrowed gift, but truly it is the reader who receives the greater gift of shared knowledge, a beautifully written book and encouragement to face whatever life may bring forth. Thank you Carol Smith for your brutal honesty and for honoring those who helped you find the strength to share with readers the often deceptive path toward acceptance and joy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Janine

    Wow! What a poignant, painful journey into hope and acceptance. This is an intense but worthwhile read. Beautifully written, the author’s journey to “cross the river” is so moving. No doubt her pain is visceral over the loss of her son as you feel it when you read. But with each story she shares of others who are experiencing a loss of some kind, the author draws closer to insight in understanding how to move on but not lose her son. I found myself gaining insights into my life as I read her str Wow! What a poignant, painful journey into hope and acceptance. This is an intense but worthwhile read. Beautifully written, the author’s journey to “cross the river” is so moving. No doubt her pain is visceral over the loss of her son as you feel it when you read. But with each story she shares of others who are experiencing a loss of some kind, the author draws closer to insight in understanding how to move on but not lose her son. I found myself gaining insights into my life as I read her struggles of acceptance, so this book goes beyond being a simple memoir. I will be keeping this book in my library for future reading.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Howard

    A good read, heart-breaking at times but also inspiring in equal measures. After the death of her 7 year old son Christopher, Carol uses her work as a journalist to meet up with some people, who have also encountered life changing situations, to help in her own healing process. This is a very powerful, well put together story and makes for a satisfying, if uncomfortable at times, read.. Often, people become cocooned in their own little world - and books like this can maybe help to extricate them A good read, heart-breaking at times but also inspiring in equal measures. After the death of her 7 year old son Christopher, Carol uses her work as a journalist to meet up with some people, who have also encountered life changing situations, to help in her own healing process. This is a very powerful, well put together story and makes for a satisfying, if uncomfortable at times, read.. Often, people become cocooned in their own little world - and books like this can maybe help to extricate them and perhaps enable them to see a bigger picture - recommended. Many thanks to Abrams for my ARC copy through Netgalley for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barred Owl Books

    This book was heart-wrenching. detailing the struggles of difficulties of trying to manage grief and loss. This book is not light-hearted tales of coping, but instead details the author's own sad loss of her young child and includes other survivor stories such as a double amputee, burn victims, fellow bereaved parents, a stroke survivor, and more. However, there is power in storytelling and overcoming and this book enables readers to build on compassion, understanding and empathy with others and This book was heart-wrenching. detailing the struggles of difficulties of trying to manage grief and loss. This book is not light-hearted tales of coping, but instead details the author's own sad loss of her young child and includes other survivor stories such as a double amputee, burn victims, fellow bereaved parents, a stroke survivor, and more. However, there is power in storytelling and overcoming and this book enables readers to build on compassion, understanding and empathy with others and just helps understand that we all need to give just a little more forgiveness and awareness for what others might be going through.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Burton

    Crossing the River is a intimate, personal and touching story of the authors life with her young son Christopher and how she deals with her grief after his sudden death at the age of 7. As a journalist she profiled ordinary people as they dealt with their own challenges, Crossing the River focuses on the stories of seven individuals that helped her heal. These stories are cleverly entwined with the story of her and Christopher. This is a very moving story that shows there is no right or wrong way Crossing the River is a intimate, personal and touching story of the authors life with her young son Christopher and how she deals with her grief after his sudden death at the age of 7. As a journalist she profiled ordinary people as they dealt with their own challenges, Crossing the River focuses on the stories of seven individuals that helped her heal. These stories are cleverly entwined with the story of her and Christopher. This is a very moving story that shows there is no right or wrong way to deal with grief. I was given a copy of Crossing the River by NetGalley and the publishers in return for an unbiased review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donna Nanna

    This is a book I never would have chosen,but it had a terrific impact on me and it is one I will always remember and quote. We all face loss of a loved one differently and yet there are so many similarities..I am so glad Carol wrote this book and I didn’t put it back on the shelf...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    Absolutely beautiful memoir!   As Carol Smith navigates the grief of her young son's death, she reflects on the stories of people throughout her life.  These stories help her to see a way to balance holding onto her grief while navigating towards happiness again.   I appreciate how much consideration she puts into the individuals in each story and the lessons she learns from each of them.  This book is certainly heavy and can be difficult to read, but the journey into these lives is a beautiful on Absolutely beautiful memoir!   As Carol Smith navigates the grief of her young son's death, she reflects on the stories of people throughout her life.  These stories help her to see a way to balance holding onto her grief while navigating towards happiness again.   I appreciate how much consideration she puts into the individuals in each story and the lessons she learns from each of them.  This book is certainly heavy and can be difficult to read, but the journey into these lives is a beautiful one.  

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mutwakil Ibrahim

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Gibeley

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rich

  25. 4 out of 5

    Deby

  26. 4 out of 5

    Madison

  27. 5 out of 5

    Madison Graber

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  29. 5 out of 5

    Makenna | KenniReads

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ross Reynolds

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