What We Lose – Zinzi Clemmons

3 stars

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If you’ve been with me for any amount of time, you know that I usually don’t review books that I rate 3 stars or under, unless I have something I really want to say about the book. Well, voila! I have something to say about What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons.

I grabbed this book in the sale section of Unabridged Bookstore (who can pass on a $5.99 book with this beautiful of a cover?). I bought it for a few reasons: it’s a gorgeous cover, the short synopsis sounded interesting, and the first 3 pages are dedicated solely to raving reviews from publishers, authors, and magazines. Goodreads was only giving it a mid-3 star rating, which I tend to not to buy unless someone I know and trust tells me I need the book, but because of said reasons above I decided to try it out.

What We Lose is composed of short vignettes surrounding grief, racial identity, and losing a parent to cancer. I’ve never read this type of writing and I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan although the writing itself is good. Quite frankly, I was confused the entire time I read this book. I didn’t read other reviews before picking it up for myself but I was under the assumption that Clemmons was writing this book from her voice and perspectives, when in fact it was ‘loosely’ based on her experiences. I was about 3/4 of the way through before realizing that I was not reading a memoir about her life but I was reading about a fictional character, written in the first person. Huh? Why?

The other issue I have with this book is I felt very disconnected to a subject that I should feel VERY connected. Losing a mother to cancer, like the main character in the book, is an experience you don’t understand until you’ve been through. The grieving process is weird and hard and sad and frustrating and this book failed to portray these emotions (in my opinion).

I try to be positive in the reviews I post on my page, but I feel strongly about this topic given that I’ve dealt with losing a mom to cancer. I respect the message the book attempted to convey and I will never discredit someone’s grief, as we all deal with things differently. I just wish I could’ve connected more to this book and I feel there was so much potential to do so.

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