Friday, January 03, 2020

Memoir Review: Making Toast

I don't remember when I first heard about the memoir, Making Toast: A Family Story, published in 2010 by award-winning journalist Roger Rosenblatt, but I know I have been wanting to read it ever since. I finally had the chance when it showed up among new audio books this fall. This brief but moving memoir was just as wonderful as I'd heard, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.

The memoir covers the period after the author's adult daughter, Amy, died unexpectedly, leaving behind a husband and three young children. To help with their grandchildren, Roger and his wife, Ginny, moved from their home on Long Island to Bethesda, MD, moving in with their son-in-law, Harris, and the kids. He describes both the agonizing grief they each felt and also what their daily lives together were like. Roger and Ginny--known as Boppo and Mimi by the kids (and their friends)--are many years past the daily care of children themselves, but they step right into their new roles helping to care for six-year-old Jessica, four-year-old Sammy, and one-year-old James (affectionately known as Bubbies). Roger/Boppo describes the routines and events of their lives, including his morning ritual of making toast to each child's particular preferences. While, yes, the subject matter is quite sad, the memoir is actually very, very funny and often left me laughing out loud while listening to my iPod, as Roger tells the stories of their lives. It's as much about his grateful and amusing observations of his grandchildrens' childhoods as it is about their grief.

I absolutely loved this warm, witty memoir about life, death, and family. I'd never heard of this very prolific writer before (he's written 18 books, 6 plays, memoirs, plus for The New Yorker and other top publications), but I can see why he's been so highly acclaimed and awarded. He has a wonderful way of describing everyday things that makes you nod your head in agreement and laugh out loud, even in the midst of sadness. The memoir is especially good on audio, read by the author in his quiet, understated way. In fact, I now very much want to read the other memoir of his that's been sitting on my TBR list for ages, Kayak Morning: Reflections on Love, Grief, and Small Boats. In Making Toast, he is able to encapsulate the complexities of grief and how a family moves on with life after the impact of a shocking death. It is beautifully written, endearing, funny, and powerful. I can't wait to read more from Rosenblatt.

176 pages, Ecco


Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

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  1. This sounds lovely Sue, thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. I have this book on my shelf and have pulled it down to read soon. When I blog about it, I plan to mention (and link to) this review of yours that reminded me I have a copy. Thank you!

    1. Wonderful, Bonnie! Glad I inspired and thanks in advance for the link - if you think of it, stop by again to let me know when it's up.

    2. I absolutely intended to come back here (and I've given the whole world a link to this post) to tell you this is the book I wrote about for today's "Book Beginnings on Friday." I think you'll get a kick out of what I wrote:

  3. What a sad story and so great that the memoir about death and grief can also be heart warming and funny.

    1. Yes, I think that's the sign of a talented writer.