“to a young child”
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By & by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep & know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
–Gerard Manley Hopkins
Grief is such an individual, totally consuming, and heart-wrenching experience — especially when the death is by a young person or is totally unexpected. This book explores the grief process very well. Margaret and Nico are teenage sisters. While Nico generally seeks out her parent’s approval, Margaret is a little on the wild side. However, that is not what gets her killed. Margaret has a heart problem and ends up drowning in the lake near their home.
The story is told from Nico’s point of view, and about her struggle to get through each day, each month, each year. She worries about her own health and about how her parents are coping with her sister’s death. She’s concerned for her sister’s boyfriend and how he’s dealing with it. She even endures those around her who try to make her into parts of Margaret instead of herself.
Finally, the story ends with an adult Nico writing about how she and her family have recovered from their grief over the years. Although — as anyone knows who has been through it — you never really get over the death of someone close to you.
2008, 288 pp.