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The Rules of Inheritance: A book review

I know, you’re thinking, what the heck is she doing a book review for? Well I figured I’d mix it up a bit; when I was offered an opportunity to review this book for BlogHer, a wonderful community of Women Bloggers, I said what the heck.

The Rules of Inheritance ($16, Amazon), by Claire Bid-well Smith is the life story of Claire, the youngest daughter of an elderly father’s second family, and her mother’s first child after 3 marriages.  Claire, who is only 16 when her mother gets sick, and her father also is diagnosed with cancer, deals with life and loss throughout her critical formative years.  Losing her mother at 18, Claire’s life spins out of control through her college years.  Finally back on track and seemingly stable, her elderly father also gets sick and she must care for him without the help of her estranged half siblings.

Narrating her own story of loss, love, and rebirth, Bidwell takes of the ride of her youth, as she struggles with overwhelming depressing at the loss of her mother, and the diagnosis of her father.  During this struggle, she meets her first love, an unstable man whom she is drawn to, as much for his notoriety as a suspect in his sisters murder, as to his fractured self.

Finding comfort in a bottle of wine at night, Claire loses herself in her own life; caring for her boyfriend and her father, she floats through life without feelign until after her father dies when she is 25.  This was her breaking point.  Finally, she gets a job she loves, helping other damaged youth, meets a friend who gently encourages her to join AA, stops drinking and meets her future husband.  The story of her meeting Greg, Bidwell’s now husband, was as entangled as any relationship in her life.  At first, an email friendship, Claire finds herself unable to face the fact that she has fallen in love with this person, whom at the time lived in Chicago.  There is safety in anonymity, and she fears taht she wil not live up to his expectations.  Finalyl, on her way home from her Grandmother’s funeral on the east coast, she unexpectedly visits him, and the rest is history.  She is smitten.

At least, she has found peace with her own life, and with the life she shares with her future husband.  She lets her mothers memory go.  She lets her father go.  She let’s her old self go, and becomes, as she states, Someone’s Person.  That most important person on the emergency contact card.  Or, if you’re a Grey’s Anatomy fan as I am, you are Merideth to Christina (or Derek if it’s a good week).

The book jumps back and forth from time period to time period, told in a fractured, jumbled way, the way Bidwell must have felt as she dealt with so much loss and grief in her young life.  Thrust from the lap of luxury in Atlanta to struggling as a teenager when her parents lose everything to medical bills, Claire’s world is upside down.  She has lost her anchors.  Always close to her mother, Claire was at a loss when her father was her sole parent.  Bonding through his illness, Claire realizes that her father was someone she missed out on knowing in her early life; 53 when she was born, Claire felt awkward and different around him.  Now, when he is sick, she bonds with him over their surprising commonalities.  But what do you do when you lose your anchors?  Are you parents your anchors?  How do handle the unexpected?  How do you deal with yourself?  At it’s core, this book is about finding yourself.  Without parents, without a strong partner, how do you find yourself, and how do you survive?

I had a difficult time reading this book.  The material is fascinating but the writing is chopping, and the transitions thin.  But you can find out for yourself!  I will be giving away my copy.  Please comment below if you are interested in reading this book.

If you would like to participate in the discussion of this book, or learn more about it, please visit the BlogHer Book Club

This book was provided by the publisher for consideration.  A small gratuity was provided by BlogHer for posting this review but all opinions are my own.

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