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From Barnes & NobleOur Review
"Divorce," writes Stephanie Staal, "has taken on the social proportions of a Great Depression." She's right: Divorce has become the defining shift of our generation. We live within its limits. For us, divorce is not an isolated trauma, but a terminal recognition of love's boundaries.
Staal's journalistic memoir, The Love They Lost, considers the experience of this "divorce generation" through a collection of stories and reflections. She offers few statistical analyses of divorce's mean toll; instead, Staal illuminates the breadth of our experience by comparing a wide variety of responses to divorced family life. "Those of us who have lived through divorce can't possibly squeeze the light and shadow of our lives into a model," explains Staal. "We long for stories, not theory. We crave a forum to share our experiences, not open them up for judgment." The Love They Lost provides that forum for all of us who have grown up in divorce. In it, Staal connects the observations of more than 100 adult children of divorce, knitting their stories into a wide net of experience.
Within this collection of stories, Staal also includes her own, personal account of divorce. In clean, unaffected prose, she pieces together the memories that record her shift into the divorced world: birthday cakes and station wagons along with barely perceptible chills in the family mood. She remembers watching her parents stake out personal territories within their shared house. She recounts the disaster of her mother's affair and her own attempts to patch her parents' torn marriage.
Together with the memories of other divorced children, Staal's story provides one example of the variety of responses we have to divorce. We may become unfailingly independent. We may become emotional adventurers, or seekers of comfort. Like Staal, each divorced child has her own ways of overcoming fear.
By placing her own story next to so many others, Staal also discovers how we move beyond the limits of divorce. As each interview subject explains his own path, readers are able to appreciate the variety of perspectives that divorced children develop. "By exploring our fears and where they come from," Staal explains, "we take the first step toward viewing love on our own terms, and not the terms set by our parents." Reading The Love They Lost offers an exploration of the boundaries imposed on the divorce generation -- and a means of moving past them.