Review: Sorry for Your Loss

Sorry for Your Loss

by Joanne Levy

Orca Book Publishers

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Heidi Rabinowitz

Evie Waldman's family runs a Jewish funeral home, and Evie is eager to help in the family business. When a car accident kills both of Oren's parents, Evie is given the assignment of keeping the boy company during the summer. Still pained by the earlier loss of a friend, Evie has sworn off friendship to avoid the hurt, but mourning, injured, silent Oren turns out to be good company. Evie learns that everyone grieves at their own pace, and finally accepts that loss and life are inextricably intertwined. 
Jewish funeral and mourning customs are demystified in a matter-of-fact, respectful manner, as Evie learns new information or shares her knowledge with Oren. Other Jewish practices, such as Shabbat observance, are woven naturally into the narrative. Evie attends a Jewish day school, and it is clear that the Waldman family is active within the Jewish community. Strong, Jewishly relevant storytelling makes this book a good candidate for Sydney Taylor Book Award recognition.
This first-person narrative is a gentle and heartwarming story of the importance of human relationships, that sensitively faces the issue of grief head-on. Readers will become better informed about funeral practices in general and Jewish customs in particular, which may help alleviate fear of the unknown. Psychologically astute storytelling brings us characters we can believe in and empathize with. Read with tissues handy. 

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Reviewer Heidi Rabinowitz is one of the co-admins of The Sydney Taylor Shmooze, along with Susan Kusel and Chava Pinchuck. She hosts The Book of Life Podcast: A Show About Jewish Kidlit (Mostly) at Heidi is Past President of the Association of Jewish Libraries, and Library Director at Congregation B'nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida.