Carla Jean Whitley

Shahnaz Habib and her husband planned a Parisian getaway, a special vacation before the birth of their first child. After suggesting the vacation and booking airfare, Habib’s husband promised to handle the paperwork for her visa. In addition to her Indian passport, the application required numerous documents, including her itinerary, proof of accommodations, three months of bank statements and a letter from her employer.

“This is what my husband needed for his application: nothing,” Habib writes. “He did not need a visa at all. He could simply walk into France, straight off the airplane.”

In Airplane Mode: An Irreverent History of Travel, Habib threads her personal experience with a thought-provoking examination of the business of wanderlust. Her research comes from myriad sources and is synthesized with her own experience as an Indian woman who has traveled the world and immigrated to New York City. As she found when applying for a visa, travel isn’t a democratic experience.

After consulting with an immigration lawyer and submitting a “nesting doll of paperwork,” Habib was rejected because her hair covered her ears in the photo they submitted. Habib weaves throughout this anecdote a detailed history of the passport and how it has empowered some—namely, white people—to move about the world freely, while constraining many others. While this and other histories may read as rather academic, Habib shows us that to understand her experience is to understand the experience of people like her throughout modern history. “Our stories end up sounding like strings of bad luck rather than the result of a calculated move to stop peasants from coming to Paris,” Habib writes of the failed trip.

The word “travel” derives from “travails,” she explains. And in medieval times, that was an accurate description. But today, travel is a privilege and an industry. Tourism can help power an economy and support local people working in the industry, but it’s often at the expense of their own culture. Habib turns her attention to her home state, Kerala, which sits along the Malabar Coast of India, to powerfully depict the differences between a travel destination—lush, charming, romantic—and an adjacent, non-tourist town—all business, no charm. In doing so, she finds plenty to praise in the workaday environment.

Habib’s personal anecdotes help make this sometimes-dense history more accessible and readable because her stories illustrate why all of this matters. Frequent travelers won’t find comfort or justification for their own travel bucket lists in Airplane Mode. Instead, Habib’s analytical tour of travel’s history invites readers to engage more thoughtfully with their journeys and to consider who is and is not able to take part in these adventures.

In Airplane Mode, Shahnaz Habib intelligently examines the business of travel, encouraging us to engage more thoughtfully with our journeys.

One recent morning, before I left home to plant white oak trees in a nearby park, I turned to Margaret Renkl’s The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year. As often happens, a passage from the New York Times columnist grounded me and pulled my vision forward: “Planting a tree is a gesture of faith in the future,” writes Renkl. She continues later in the essay, “I think of what we are losing from this world and of what we will leave behind when we ourselves are lost. The trees. The stories. The people who love us and who know we love them, who will carry our love into the world after we are gone.”

These personal reflections on the natural world, often as observed from her suburban half-acre in Nashville, abound in The Comfort of Crows and throughout Renkl’s writing. Essays in her sparkling 2019 debut Late Migrations offered glimpses into loss and living as they toggled between Renkl’s past and present across the Southern U.S. Her 2021 book, Graceland, at Last, collected dozens of essays from her Times column. A handful of the essays in The Comfort of Crows appeared in the Times, too, but this book takes a different approach. 

“Planting a tree is a gesture of faith in the future.”

Renkl crafted an essay for each week of the year and paired them with 52 original collages by her brother, artist Billy Renkl. For the 11th week in winter, she uses a tree’s knothole as a metaphor, linking the decay of the natural world to the changing patterns of her life. She admires the greenery sprouting from the hole and notes the space where animals may have sheltered. It is a place where “radiant things are bursting forth in the darkest places, in the smallest nooks and deepest cracks of the hidden world.”

Renkl processes change and tragedy: the deaths of her ancestors, aging, becoming an empty nester, the COVID-19 pandemic, encroaching development in her neighborhood and, inevitably, climate change. Longer essays are interspersed with “praise songs,” short poetic observations on the natural world. The book can be read straight through or stretched across the calendar as a weekly literary devotional. Billy Renkl’s stunning collages provide an invitation to meditate, to pray, to breathe.

Infused with empathy, The Comfort of Crows reminds us to treasure the living beings who surround us with each breath we take. Renkl’s insights root us within our world. “I’ll gather acorns to plant here and there at our house—in enough different places, I hope, for a few to escape the blue jays,” she writes. “With any luck, some autumn in a year I may not live to see, there will be many acorns.”

Margaret Renkl’s The Comfort of Crows is a shimmering weekly devotional that praises living beings great and small.

Christie Tate confronted her eating disorder head-on. She worked through her tendency to date men with alcoholism and even found a healthy relationship with a man she would eventually marry. This meant she’d tackled her issues, right? 

Tate recounted this recovery process in the New York Times bestseller Group, but it turns out the work of healing doesn’t end at “I do.” Her fear of intimacy had improved in some areas of her life, but Tate soon realized that her friendships needed attention, too.

In B.F.F.: A Memoir of Friendship Lost and Found, Tate writes about her journey toward friendship using the language of recovery and 12-step programs. Such meetings brought numerous influential women into Tate’s life, including Meredith, who pledged to work through her own friendship issues alongside Tate.

Tate had previously allowed friendships to fade whenever she moved from one life phase to the next. When Meredith came along, however, she pushed Tate to reflect on why she felt separate from others, which allowed Tate to begin recognizing patterns from her childhood. For example, Tate’s mom and sister had shared a bathroom when she was growing up, and they sat beside each other at the family dining table. Meanwhile, Tate had shared a bathroom with her father and brother, who also separated her from her mom and sister at meals. 

Tate explores these memories and her adult friendships with the same vulnerability that made Group such a captivating read. She’s unafraid to share the unvarnished truth about her insecurities, such as when a friend with whom Tate felt competitive considered joining one of her therapy groups, and Tate reacted by gouging a bloody line into her own arm.

But Meredith modeled lasting friendship for Tate, even when it was uncomfortable. One memorable day after Meredith had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, Tate told Meredith she planned to write about their friendship. Meredith gave her blessing: “Tell them how we changed by holding each other’s hand as we looked honestly at ourselves. Tell how one life can alter another.”

B.F.F. is an openhearted examination of the power of friendship from people who love us exactly as we are.

In B.F.F., Christie Tate explores her adult friendships with the same vulnerability that made her first memoir, Group, such a captivating read.

Bozoma Saint John’s list of accomplishments is long. She has built a career as a marketing executive, most recently at Netflix, and filled her resume with hall of fame memberships and other accolades. You could be excused for wondering if her memoir is an executive’s story of professional success; this reviewer asked the same question. But no, The Urgent Life isn’t an executive’s guide to anything. It’s Saint John’s personal story of grief and survival.

In 1982, Saint John’s mother fled Ghana with her daughters. Their father was taken into political detention, and Saint John didn’t know when she would see him or their home country again. Her father rejoined the family in the United States months later, but from that point on, the young Saint John was familiar with loss. She later became acquainted with death after her grandmother’s passing, and more intimately so following the death of her college boyfriend.

When Saint John’s husband, Peter, received a terminal cancer diagnosis in 2013, her perspective on loss quickly changed. The couple had been separated and in the process of divorcing, but in light of this development, they called it off. With limited time left together, they knew they wanted to live in the here and now. “We had to make haste, whether that meant moving back in together after being separated for years, booking a trip to our favorite getaway, or eating lasagna before it had time to cool,” she writes.

As Saint John vividly recounts the couple’s waning time together, she also reflects on the path that led them to each other. Their first meeting was acrimonious, but Peter quickly won over Saint John by reading her favorite book, Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, and taking her to dinner to discuss the novel. His insights impressed Saint John.

The couple fell fast after that, but the differences in their life experiences and upbringings—hers Ghanaian American, his Italian American—became difficult to sort through. Although Peter hadn’t previously been in a relationship with a Black woman, his 6-foot-5-inch, redheaded self fit into Black spaces with ease. He was content to watch Saint John and her friends dance at a club, nodding in time with music he didn’t otherwise listen to as he waited along the wall. She appreciated his comfort in her world while acknowledging that it was because of his whiteness that he was at ease. “There was no place that would deny him entry,” she writes.

The Urgent Life is an unflinching examination of Saint John’s experiences as a Black woman, the difficulties that almost ended her marriage and the love she and her husband clung to in his final days. Facing a life without Peter, Saint John made a decision to live urgently, recognizing that time spent with the people she loves isn’t guaranteed.

The Urgent Life is Bozoma Saint John’s personal story of the difficulties that almost ended her marriage and the love she and her husband clung to in his final days.

The lights started shortly after Matthew Vollmer’s mother died. It was the fall of 2019, and Vollmer’s father now lived alone, sleeping in the same bed where his wife of decades had released her final breath. He had spent 10 years caring for her as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases slowly took their toll. Now Vollmer, his sister, their respective families and their father were learning to live without their mother’s buoyant laughter. 

So it was understandable when friends and acquaintances offered a quick explanation for the appearance of mysterious lights near the elder Mr. Vollmer’s rural North Carolina property. They must be Mrs. Vollmer, of course, signaling to her husband from beyond the grave.

This easy answer didn’t sit well with Vollmer, who had long wrestled with matters of faith after leaving the Seventh-day Adventist Church in college. The other members of his family were still Adventists, and this well-meaning explanation didn’t align with their beliefs either. Adventists believe that once you die, you’re dead until Christ returns and resurrects the dead. Vollmer’s father even suggested to a few people that the lights might not have been from his late wife but from a demonic source instead.

Vollmer explores these possibilities with open-minded curiosity in All of Us Together in the End. An English professor at Virginia Tech who has previously authored short story and essay collections, Vollmer brings a fiction writer’s knack for narrative to this account of his life, vividly recounting family gatherings during the COVID-19 lockdown and other tender moments. Likewise, Vollmer’s analytic prowess shines in his research into possible causes for the lights. He turned to an author of a ghost lights book and a shaman, among other sources, attempting to make sense of not only this phenomenon but also the hole Vollmer’s mother left in the family.

Throughout this journey, Vollmer invites readers into his world via detailed renderings of the places he’s called home. He recalls his childhood house with exquisite detail and recounts searching for the lights outside his father’s window so powerfully that readers can place themselves in the scene. And as he searches, Vollmer evokes a painfully universal experience: the process of moving forward with a life that doesn’t make sense after a loved one’s death.

Matthew Vollmer brings a fiction writer’s knack for narrative to his first memoir, an account of the mysterious lights that appeared near his father’s home after his mother’s death.

It’s 1940, and Millie and Reginald Thompson face a difficult decision: How can they best protect their 11-year-old daughter from the trauma of World War II? Reginald’s own youth was marred by the worries of World War I, and he’ll do anything to protect his daughter’s childhood. He convinces Millie to send Beatrix to live with a family in the United States, far from the bombs that threaten the Thompsons’ London neighborhood. They’ll see her again after the war.

Beatrix arrives in Boston as a reserved preteen, but the Gregory family soon draws her out. She fits like a stair step between the family’s eldest son, William, and the younger, Gerald. During the five years she spends in New England, Bea gains confidence as she competes with the boys and finds support from parents Nancy and Ethan, who ensure that Bea has a safe place to call home. Bea is thriving in her new world, even if she doesn’t quite understand her own parents’ decision to send her away. But then, as the war winds down, Millie abruptly calls Bea back to England, and upon Bea’s return, both families struggle to understand their relationships to one another, formed in the crucible of war. 

Told from alternating perspectives of each family member over the course of nearly four decades, Beyond That, the Sea explores the ways that formative experiences remain with us throughout our lives. Several years after the war, Bea describes to William how it felt to return to her home country: “It was familiar, too, it was in my bones. As though this place is part of who I am. As though I was always meant to be here. As though I belong.” As Bea learns, the people we love remain with us, even after we lose touch. The Gregory family becomes a part of her, just as she carried her parents in her heart after leaving England. 

Debut novelist Laura Spence-Ash’s masterful character development enlivens the Thompson and Gregory families and all of the love and tension between them.

Debut novelist Laura Spence-Ash’s masterful character development enlivens the story of the Thompson and Gregory families and all of the love and tension between them.

“When I love a song, there is almost always a moment that sounds like how I imagine truth to sound,” writes poet Amy Key in Arrangements in Blue: Notes on Loving and Living Alone. “It’s the moment in the song that touches the bruise you didn’t know you had, the aching, denied part of you. You are found out by it.”

Every track of Joni Mitchell’s Blue uncovers a bruise for Key. The 1971 album has been dear to her for three decades, since she borrowed the cassette tape from her older sister when she was 14. From the moment Mitchell sang, “I am on a lonely road and I am travelling, travelling, travelling, travelling, looking for something, what can it be?” Key experienced a sense of longing. At first it was a longing to consume every note of the album. But as she’s moved through the decades of her life, Key has come to associate Blue with her desire for romantic love. She yearns for a partner, but she also yearns for a sense of self that isn’t defined by her singleness.

In Arrangements in Blue, Key uses Mitchell’s seminal work as a magnifying glass for her emotions and experiences as a single woman. These 10 essays parallel the tracks of Blue, but intimacy with the album isn’t required to understand and appreciate Key’s insights. She recounts solo meals and solo travels, and reflects on how people have looked at her during those moments. She confesses all the ways she’s held out her heart and body to men who were happy to receive but unwilling to open themselves in return. By embracing a vulnerability that matches Mitchell’s, Key reveals the full spectrum of human feeling with words honed as carefully as poetry.

Key offers analysis of Mitchell’s work throughout, but Arrangements in Blue isn’t exactly about Blue. It’s a window into the way one woman has moved through a world that’s quick to define women by their relationships. It’s also an ode to the ways music can give voice to our emotions, sometimes shape-shifting over years to remain as relevant as the first time we hit play.

In Arrangements in Blue, Amy Key uses Joni Mitchell’s seminal work as a magnifying glass for her emotions and experiences as a single woman.

Tony Zhang has always been willing to do what is necessary in his pursuit of a better life. He left his fishing village in China, seeking education and opportunities in the big city of Dalian, and found love along the way. In the early 1990s, he and his wife, Kim, lived comfortably, supported by his successful engineering career and her medical practice. But they dreamed of more—a TV, a refrigerator, a house, possibilities—so they left China and their careers for New York City.

As Tony and Kim’s daughter, Tammy, grows up, she struggles to understand her father, whose expectations feel impossibly high. Tony calculates how quickly Tammy can graduate college and then law school. He wants her to have access to the level of wealth displayed in the Rosewood, the upscale co-op on the Upper West Side where Tony works as a door attendant. But Tammy doesn’t know why her father has invested so much in a future she isn’t sure she wants.

Oliver is a 26-year-old white attorney who lives in the Rosewood. Eager to be seen as a good guy, the kind of person who knows his door attendant’s name, Oliver strikes up a friendship with Tony. After a dramatic incident in which a man tries to steal a Rosewood tenant’s purse, Tony becomes a hero, and Oliver devotes even more attention to him, quickly intertwining himself with the Zhang family. Tammy becomes Oliver’s protégé, first taking piano lessons from him and eventually following in his professional footsteps. 

In chapters that shift between Tony, Tammy and Oliver, charting their past and present motivations over the course of several decades, Paper Names explores how we’re shaped at the points where we intersect with others. While Tammy’s sections account for slightly less than a third of the book, her chapters are the only ones told from a first-person perspective, subtly communicating that the young woman’s life is the novel’s center. And although Tammy spends decades learning from both her father and Oliver, she retains blind spots about their lives—spaces where their stories move outside her view.

Debut novelist Susie Luo executes the jumps between her characters’ perspectives well, allowing the shifts to feel as natural as revisiting one’s own memories. This is a well-woven tale about the legacies that are passed down through generations, even when family members upend their lives in search of distance from one another.

Susie Luo’s debut novel is a well-woven tale about the legacies that are passed down through generations, even when family members upend their lives in search of distance from one another.

Did you know octopuses can shift their skin to create papillae, bumps or folds? Or that they don’t see color but can see polarized light? Did you know they can be cannibals but also seem to live in relationship with other creatures?

In Many Things Under a Rock: The Mysteries of Octopuses, David Scheel shares these facts and many more. Scheel is a professor of marine biology at Alaska Pacific University, but Many Things Under a Rock is accessible regardless of the reader’s amount of scientific knowledge. Scheel’s straightforward prose places readers beside him as he gets to know the elusive, intriguing octopus. He describes the molluscs, their habits, their characteristics and their habitats in detail gathered from 25 years of research and observation.

And the book is well researched, with dozens of pages of meticulous notes as evidence. But Scheel doesn’t overload his text with annotations, and he never turns to jargon or complex explanations to ensure that he’s perceived as an expert. Instead, Scheel invites readers along on a journey of discovery. He shares the lessons he’s learned about octopuses by recounting research trips and personal anecdotes, writing like a teacher who is eager to invite readers into octopuses’ magical world. It’s as though he’s in the water with us, lifting a stone or pushing aside seaweed to show off the many things that can exist under a rock (which is a translation of the Eyak word for octopus).

Scheel’s curiosity about octopuses parallels his curiosity about Alaska Native history, and his respect for Indigenous experiences is obvious. Particularly in the early years of his studies, Scheel turned to Native people for insight into the cephalopods they’ve hunted for centuries. He weaves their knowledge and stories into this book, showing appreciation for shared wisdom and making Many Things Under a Rock a treasure trove of expertise, generously shared.

David Scheel’s straightforward prose places readers in the water beside him as he lifts a stone or pushes aside seaweed to show off the elusive, intriguing world of the octopus.

Ellie Huang has lived in focused pursuit of traditional markers of success. She earned good grades in college and then enrolled in Stanford Law and excelled there, too. While in law school, she met Ian, a golden boy whose good looks were widely appreciated. Ian wasn’t the best student—Ellie quickly learned to downplay her successes to avoid outshining him—but his considerable charms carried him through law school. After graduation, Ellie snagged a prestigious clerkship in Washington, D.C., but as soon as it ended, she returned to Ian’s side. They married, and she continued to meet expectations, playing the model minority while working long hours as an attorney. 

As You Can’t Stay Here Forever opens, Ian’s death in a car crash, only months after their wedding, shakes Ellie loose. She learns that Ian had been cheating on her with one of her colleagues. Ellie confronts the other woman, berating her with an outpouring of anger—behavior that’s certainly justified but also out of sync with Ellie’s carefully orchestrated life. Returning to normalcy seems impossible; Ellie can’t focus on the law anymore, so she cashes in Ian’s life insurance and flees the country with her best friend, Mable Chou, in tow. But against the lush backdrop of the French Riviera, Ellie’s inner turmoil is even uglier. 

Debut novelist and San Francisco attorney Katherine Lin examines expectations and disappointment in You Can’t Stay Here Forever. In Ellie, she has created a character defined by insecurities, angst and a palpably tense interior landscape. As much as some readers may dislike Ellie, it’s clear that her own self-loathing is just as strong. Ellie thinks uncharitably about Mable because she refuses to live by the rules that have guided Ellie’s life, and she is equally scornful of her mother, who was never at ease with Ian. An American couple at the resort, Robbie and Fauna, also draw Ellie’s ire. Fauna, an older, wealthier and thrice-divorced white woman, holds power over her Asian American boyfriend that parallels the power that Ian, also white, held over Ellie. 

Lin laces observations about racial, gender and other power dynamics throughout, but the plot still moves swiftly enough to make the novel a vacation read. Just as with its protagonist, there’s much more to see if you’re willing to read between the lines.

After her husband’s death, Ellie cashes in Ian’s life insurance and flees the country with her best friend, Mable Chou, in tow. But against the lush backdrop of the French Riviera, Ellie’s inner turmoil is even uglier.

Creative nonfiction writer Elizabeth Rush had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when she was invited to join a 57-person voyage to the Thwaites Glacier. That piece of Antarctica had never been seen by humans, yet scientists expected that data from its fast-shifting ice would inform our understanding of a changing climate. Aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer, Rush could once again deploy her reporting and narrative prowess to deepen her and readers’ familiarity with the world they call home, as she did when exploring how rising sea levels would affect the United States’ coast in her previous Pulitzer finalist book, Rising.

But to do so, Rush would have to delay her attempts to conceive a child.

These competing desires propel The Quickening: Creating and Community at the Ends of the Earth, a distinctive addition to the Antarctic canon. Before setting out on the Palmer, Rush turned her attention to existing literature about Antarctica—which she finds is largely “fluff or end-of-the-world stuff.” Women rarely appear in these accounts, nor do the crews who navigate the treacherous seas and make research possible through their expertise.

Rush is at ease shifting between various objects of fascination, and she immerses herself in her shipmates’ work at every opportunity. Although she’s on board as a writer, not a scientist, Rush helps teams gather and process samples of mud and ice containing clues to Thwaites’ past and the Earth’s future.

But even the study of climate change seems impossible to isolate from forces that exacerbate it. During an excursion off the Palmer, Rush notes, “Almost every aspect of our mission is threaded through with petrochemicals,” from the soles of the group’s shoes to Rush’s voice recorder to the careers of many shipmates’ parents.

Aboard the Palmer, Rush grapples with her desire to give birth in a world with an increasingly fragile climate. Back home, she encounters an undergraduate student arguing against reproduction in this scenario. But in conversation with her shipmates, Rush cites a scientific article that she recently read: “Its underlying argument—that rapid transition away from fossil fuels, not fewer pregnancies, is what is needed—gives me some solace.”

Rush centers women’s voices in her exploration of motherhood and the Earth, gliding between her personal reflections, descriptions of life aboard the ship and stories of what comes after. Simultaneously lyrical and analytical, The Quickening depicts Rush’s search for meaning while rejecting easy answers.

Pulitzer finalist Elizabeth Rush combines memoir, reportage and science writing in a lyrical, women-centered addition to the Antarctic canon.

We All Want Impossible Things is ostensibly a novel about death—but it pulses with life.

Ash is a food writer who is separated from her husband, Honey. Their relationship is basically over, but they’ve been too lazy and cheap to file for divorce. Even so, Honey often visits, offering food and emotional support in equal measure. Their eldest daughter is away at MIT and mostly communicates via emoji-laden text messages. Their younger daughter often skips school to watch HGTV and has, on more than one occasion, caught Ash in the midst of a romantic encounter. 

Ash is surrounded by people; they wend their way through her world much like the cats that circle her feet. And Ash needs all of them, because her best friend, Edi, is dying. 

Edi and Ash have been in each other’s lives since nursery school. They love each other well, quickly forgiving sanctimonious moments but just as easily calling each other on their bull. For three years, Edi has had ovarian cancer, and now her doctors are predicting that she will die in a week or two. Every hospice in New York City has a waitlist, so Ash recommends an option near her home in western Massachusetts, and Edi’s husband reluctantly agrees.

But death doesn’t come quickly. Instead, We All Want Impossible Things is full of moments both mundane and painful, hilarious and heartbreaking, as Ash waits for life after Edi. The complications of love, parenting and saying goodbye all mingle together in rich detail as Ash, who is nonreligious, seeks some sort of divine kindness in the face of death.

Catherine Newman, who has previously authored two memoirs and several books for children, drew from her experience of caring for her dying best friend (which she wrote about in the essay “Mothering My Dying Friend,” published in the New York Times in 2015) to craft her first novel for adult readers, and she fills it with heart-rending, lovely moments.

We All Want Impossible Things is full of moments both mundane and painful, hilarious and heartbreaking.

A writer’s parents have both died, and their physical space will be gone soon. Back at the family home near Boston, an estate sale will clear out belongings amassed by her parents during the decades of their lives. A real estate agent will list the home. But their memory—especially that of her mother, most recently deceased—lives on with the writer.

She wanders the streets of London, a meandering journey that takes her from the London Eye to museums to the theater. She is surrounded by people but rarely in conversation with them. Instead, she recalls a trip made with her mother, whose dramatic, colorful personality continues to keep the writer company.

Though she never introduces herself by name, the narrator of Elizabeth McCracken’s The Hero of This Book welcomes the reader to join her in processing her mother’s death. McCracken slips between action, memory and internal monologue, seamlessly exploring her narrator’s world with no border between the internal and external. The writer intersperses observations about the writing craft with these recollections. The genre of the resulting tale is certainly up for debate: Is it autofiction? Memoir? A novel? McCracken even inserts cheeky asides about what makes a book fiction, further confusing the line between narrator and author.

“I used to not believe in plot because I wasn’t interested: All my plots were about time,” she writes—and this novel follows that rule. “That might have been because not much had happened to me, not so much as a broken bone. Then a few things did befall me, and I understood plot in a different way: I discovered that a single event could alter the course of a life.”

Readers who enjoy tales of quiet, internal reflection will find themselves right at home here. Regardless of label, The Hero of This Book is a thoughtful exploration of the lived experience of grief.

The narrator of Elizabeth McCracken's The Hero of This Book doesn't introduce herself by name, but she welcomes the reader to join her in processing her mother's death.

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