Gerson, Stephane. Disaster Falls: a Family Story. New York: Crown, 2017.
Reason read: a selection for the Early Review Program of LibraryThing.
Grief is hard to explain to another individual. As a listener, unless you have experienced the kind of trauma that changes your whole life it is hard to wrap your brain around it. How does one comprehend an emotion like grief? You may recognize pieces of trauma like how small recognitions in a foreign town you swear you have never visited before give you a sense of deja vu.
Gerson’s story might be redundant in its telling, but that is a part of the grieving process; to tell the story as many times as possible to anyone who will listen. You go over details, searching for truths; for explanations and when you have exhausted your examination you do it again and again, hoping for a different outcome. It’s a never ending cycle of trying to find the Why in tragedy. Especially when the real tragedy of the situation is they (the Gerson family) had real misgivings about the falls before even running the rapids. They had doubt and doubt is the great provoker of the “what if?” game.
I connected with Gerson on one small detail: how chronology becomes “before the accident/after the accident”. For me, everything relating to time became either “before dad died” or “after dad died”. If someone gave me a date I would quickly calculate which side of death my father was on. I say this as a matter of fact, but it is a product of my grief.
Confessional: my aunt lost her son five years ago. In the days, weeks, months and even several years following his death I seriously wondered if she would die of a broken heart and my family would be burying her as well. Her grief was profound and in some ways, complete. It took over her entire existence. I can only imagine Gerson suffered the same hollowing out as my aunt. As my grandmother once said after losing my father, “no parent is supposed to bury a child.”
As an aside: people have been reviewing Disaster Falls since late September so I feel a I am a little late to the party. Not as late as the people who will win an advanced copy in the next month or so, but late just the same.
Author fact: Gerson lost his father in the exact opposite manner of losing his son. Whereas as his son was taken suddenly, Gerson’s father planned his death to the minute.
Book trivia: no photos