The first six pages of this wrenchingly honest memoir of Hood's daughter's death and its aftermath read like a tightly controlled scream. All the platitudes, the dozens of words of comfort that people offer-"time heals," "she is in a better place"-are interspersed with Hood's silent, furious responses to these "lies," with special scorn for those who say, "Are you writing this down?" The death of her five-year-old Grace in 2002 was completely unexpected: an ordinary strep throat somehow ravaged the organs of her small body. Hood (The Knitting Circle) takes readers through the slow, jagged steps of dealing with grief. Unable to write, she first took refuge in endless knitting, then got a tattoo on Grace's sixth birthday. Hiding from the Beatles' songs her daughter had loved, she found them so ubiquitous that she could finally listen only to talk radio. Grace's little shoes stood sentinel at the top of the stairs and three years passed before Hood could bear to clean her room. But there is redemption at the end of this short, anguished book. Hood and her husband have a new daughter, Annabelle, adopted from China, and at last, Hood can celebrate Mother's Day, albeit with a "strange mixture of grief and joy." (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Novelist Hood's brief, heartbreaking memoir chronicles the death of her five-year-old daughter and its soul-searing aftermath. In 2002, Grace contracted a virulent form of strep throat. A broken arm in her ballet class, a fever that seemed to come out of nowhere, a call to the pediatrician and, writes Hood, "a day and a half after I carried her into the ER, Grace died." The book opens with the author's description of the interminable hours in the hospital, watching as Grace cycled from near-comatose to "better" to dead. Though she's mined this material before in her fiction (The Knitting Circle, 2007, etc.), Hood's terror and agony are once again fresh. Watching her daughter go into cardiac arrest, she writes, "I screamed, ‘Gracie! Gracie! Gracie!' so loud and so often that my throat remained dry for days afterwards." The rest of the book delineates the process of grieving undergone by Hood, her husband and their eight-year-old son Sam. Unable to write for a time, Hood took up knitting and thought back on her life before marriage and motherhood. She had been a young woman who effortlessly left places and people behind; then she fell in love with Manhattan, and "the one place I thought for certain I would never leave was New York City." Her husband persuaded her to move to Rhode Island, but for years she felt it didn't fit. The story of how she "slowly, slowly" began to find her place in this new world is as compelling as the ghastly account of Grace's tragic end. Eventually, time started to do its healing work: Hood was again able to put words on paper, and in 2005 the family adopted a baby girl from China-born on the date Grace died. A loving tribute by turns harrowing and beautiful.
“Comfort is novelist Ann Hood’s utterly harrowing, completely spellbinding memoir of losing her five-year-old daughter, Grace, to a rare form of strep in 2002. . . . [A] spare, gorgeously serpentine narrative. . . . Unforgettable.”
Los Angeles Times
“Comfort enriches our lives. . . . I will most likely never eat pasta with butter and Parmesan or cucumbers cut in perfect rounds . . . without thinking of Ann Hood and her daughter. And I have never met either one.”
“In graceful prose, Comfort bears witness to the heartbreaking particularity of her—of any—loss.”
New York Times Book Review
“Hood is larger than life, living, loving, and grieving on an operatic scale.”