This book is the memoir of Rachel Hanel, daughter of a gravedigger in Minnesota. Rachel grew up spending her time with her father as he maintained the graveyards and dug the graves around their hometown. I was fascinated by the themes of grief and loss in the book and I love the way the story has been crafted.
All my life I have had a fascination with graveyards, but have been terrified of them at the same time. I have not once experienced a death close to me. Sure, I have had grandparents pass away – when they were in another country or after being lost for many years to senility, but I have not yet lost anyone or known anyone close to me who has passed. When I was 4 my uncle was killed in the civil war in Rhodesia. I have asked and asked those who knew him to tell me about him, but no-one ever has. The topic of his death, and his life, was taboo. For this reason I was absolutely captivated by the experiences if Hanel’s youth as she witnessed loss after loss after loss, and knew the stories of who these people were. Being related to the gravedigger it makes sense that one WOULD be privy to many details surrounding the deaths in a small community, but a few times I thought to myself “She knows ANOTHER one?” There’s a lot of death in this book!
I wish I had known Hanel in my youth. I can imagine myself riding my bike with her, or collecting flowers with her after memorial day.What an amazing experience she had – and communicated – in this book. I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it.
I would give this book 5 stars.