Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 81.

I would like to thank NetGalley and University of Minnesota Press for the opportunity to read and honestly review this book.

We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger's Daughter by Rachael Hanel

Summary (via Goodreads):
Rachael Hanel's name was inscribed on a gravestone when she was eleven years old.  Yet this wasn't at all unusual in her world: her father was a gravedigger in the small Minnesota town of Waseca, and death was her family's business.  Her parents were forty-two years old and in good health when they erected their gravestone - Rachael's name was simply a branch on the sprawling family tree etched on the back of the stone.  As she puts it: I grew up in cemeteries.
And you don't grow up in cemeteries - surrounded by headstones and stories, questions, curiosity - without becoming an adept and sensitive observer of death and loss as experienced by the people in this small town.  For Rachael Hanel, wandering among tombstones, reading the names, and wondering about the townsfolk and their lives, death was, in many ways, beautiful and mysterious.  Death and mourning: these she understood.  But when Rachael's father - Digger O'Dell - passes away suddenly when she is fifteen, she and her family are abruptly and harshly transformed from bystanders to participants.  And for the first time, Rachael realizes that death and grief are very different.

My Opinion:
I could relate to the author as she described her fascination with the stories behind the graves.  Like her, I also began reading true crime stories and obituaries at a very young age and I find cemeteries peaceful, respectful, and comforting.  From an early age my family instilled a deep appreciation of history and human experience and exploring cemeteries is something we did together and I continue to do; this makes me sound much more morbid than I actually am.
The author has a nice writing style.  This may not be a book that makes a big impact (as the author acknowledges, there is no big climatic ending), but personally, I enjoyed reading it.
I'm also happy the pictures were included in the digital copy I read; they complemented the text very well.
Quote of the Blog:
*Since I read an ARC of this book, I can't quote directly from it as I normally would.  Instead, I've found another quote that seems appropriate.
"The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living." ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

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