Growing Up Under the Shadow of Grief: Claire Bidwell Smith

Dear Reader,

“Grief is a very isolating experience. There is the sense that the whole world is continuing on around you while you are left in this quiet, sad place. Understanding that there are others who feel similarly can be enormously helpful,” says Claire Bidwell Smith in an exclusive Q&A posted to

Claire Bidwell Smith’s parents were both diagnosed with cancer the year she turned 14.  Her mother died first, during Claire’s freshman year in college, her father when she was 25. Structuring her remarkable debut The Rules of Inheritance around Kubler-Ross’s 5 Stages of Grief, Smith holds back nothing as she cuts across time to detail her rocky youth defined by the loss of her parents. 

Smith’s narrative not only captures the staccato thoughts and difficult decisions that had to be made, but also the understanding and compassion that she finds when she emerges on the other side of mourning.

“Smith’s prose possesses a blistering power, rendering this youthful memoir an affecting journey into loss,” wrote Publishers Weekly in its review, and we couldn’t agree more.

Cheers, Miwa

Miwa Messer

Miwa Messer is the Director of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program, which was established in 1990 to highlight works of exceptional literary quality that might otherwise be overlooked in a crowded book marketplace.  Titles chosen for the program are handpicked by a select group of our booksellers four times a year.  Click here for  submission guidelines.