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Monday, March 14, 2011

Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt, 2010, * * * * *

On December 8, 2007, Amy Rosenblatt Solomon collapsed on a treadmill prior to going to work and died from an asymptomatic heart condition.  Roger Rosenblatt and his wife Ginny drove from their Long Island home to be with Any's husband and their three grandchildren: six-year-old Jessica, four-year-old Sammy, and one-year-old James, aka "Bubbies."   The memoir take place during the year that follows Amy's death, as Roger and Ginny, called "Boppo" and "Mimi" by their grandchildren, quickly reaccustom themselves to the choreography of the everyday and the extraordinary including bedtime stories, talking toys, playdates, homework, family vacations, holidays and nonstop questions.  As he marvels at the strength of his son-in-law, a surgeon, and the tenacity and skill of his wife, a former kindergarten teacher, Boppo attends each day to "the one household duty I have mastered" - preparing the morning toast perfectly to each child's liking. If there is one shortcoming to "Making Toast," it is that the writing often feels dispassionate.  The descriptions of tough times don't match up with the calm, unemotional explanations. However, the memoir commands your attention by other means, including the format -- there are no chapters -- only journal style entries each of which makes your heart ache. "Making Toast" is a bleakly beautiful scatter plot of grief which is a balm to read.

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