Book Review: Learning to Jump Again – A Memoir of Grief and Hope
by Brooke West
I started trying to write this review about an hour ago with my ‘Writing’ playlist up in iTunes. Music affects me in weird ways. So when Pink’s ‘Who Knew’ came up I knew I was sunk. “If someone said: three years from now, you’d be long gone, I’d stand up and punch them out…” While it isn’t really a song about death per se, it reminds me of my (Aunt) Nan. My Nan, who I really believed would win against that nasty beast called cancer. If someone had told me at the beginning “she’s not going to make it through this,” I might have just punched them out. She fought hard for almost five years before she died. We’re coming up on the one year anniversary in just a few weeks. In a blog (that was never published here) I very systematically and bravely described my own grief process right after she died. When I finished, I congratulated myself on being so practical about the whole thing. I shed no tears, just a flowery ‘see you on the flip side’ kind of post, the kind you finish reading and think ‘bless her heart, she’s a pillar’. In retrospect- I wasn’t being honest, with my readers or myself for that matter. Not even a little.
I hadn’t realized when I started reading, Learning to Jump Again: A Memoir of Grief and Hope, just how many of my own issues with Nan’s death I had swept under the rug, but boy did I learn! In the first chapter I realized I was reading a checklist of my own feelings and thoughts. It was particularly endearing to me how many references Mr. Weber made to so many of my favorite songs and books; it was like I had a comrade in arms that understood a situation that few others around me do.
What struck me the most about this book was how there was no pretention, no ‘look at me and how well I’m dealing with this’ in fact, it was quite the opposite. It is a brutally honest snapshot of one person’s journey down the road with a terminally ill family member, but most importantly it is a panorama of his return trip without that loved one.
There are so many hurting people into whose hands I would l like to press this book and will at the soonest opportunity. I wish someone would have handed it to me last July. While the journal part of the book is raw and emotionally charged, the afterword is full of advice and hope and is immeasurably valuable to someone dealing with the death of a loved one.
It was an added bonus for me to review this book; as the author, Mr. Weber, was kind enough to donate not only his time to a recent podcast here at TPE, but also donated several signed copies to give away for our anniversary celebration. It was my pleasure and honor to be allowed to read his book. I really should be thanking him for his honesty and his wise words. So thank you Mr. Weber, I hope you sell millions of copies, because this book deserves to be the shelf of everyone who has ever lost someone important to them.