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Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers' Favorite
Peg Conway, the author of The Art of Reassembly: A Memoir of Early Mother Loss and Aftergrief, lost her mother at a very young age, and the impact of this loss continued to shape her life for many years. It meant shouldering adult responsibilities while still a child. When her father remarried, she had to negotiate a complicated relationship with the woman who moved into the void left by her true mother but failed to fill it. The effect of this lingered for many years. Ordinary events that seemed normal and harmless to most people had the potential to ambush her with suppressed trauma. After she herself became a parent, she gained new insights into her mother's role. With the death of her father and stepmother, Peg and her siblings rediscover long-lost family mementos - a process that finally brings closure and healing. Facing her own grief gave her the strength to reach out to others. She now mentors children and adults through the grieving process for a parent's loss.
In this memoir of loss and recovery, the author visits the different stations of a young girl's development. She examines what it means to pass through each milestone without the crucial support of a mother. There are various takeaways. One assumes that tragedy pulls a family together, but in reality, it can also isolate at the very time when a person needs most to connect. The experience is individual and relative - the needs of a grieving parent may be at odds with that of a grieving child. Peg Conway shares her story with a strong sense of place. Her clarity and emotional honesty lend it a tender poignancy. It is a bridge that reaches out to other children, marooned in situations they have yet to come to terms with. But that's not all it is. With the Art of Reassembly: A Memoir of Early Mother Loss and Aftergrief, Peg Conway also restores her mother to the heart of her story where she belongs.