Review: The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

Title: The Language of Dying
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Pages: 144
Genre: Fiction
Source: Free ARC from Quercus

Rating: A-

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Quercus via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review (and trust me, honest is always what you’ll get).

Review: Another tearjerker. Powerful, painful and raw. This book is about so much more than watching a loved one die. It’s about all the things that make up a life, about family, relationships, hope, rebirth, and letting go…not just of those we love, but of the pain and destruction in our own lives.

The main character – who remains unnamed – has taken on the task of caring for her dying father. She had previously purchased her childhood home from him, and has now brought him home for his final days. As the end nears, she revisits her past and wrestles with her demons. Her brothers and sister come to visit, stirring up more memories, a lot of resentments, and some clarity about who they are and what can be expected of them.

There is frustration and laughter, anger and acceptance, pain and love. It is painful and honest. It isn’t just about death and living, but also depression and victimization, and the events in our lives that help to define the role we play in life.

Pinborough is an exquisite writer who truly understands the power of words. Losing myself in this book happened without my realizing it. The pain and suffering were palpable.

While reading, I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother’s passing, as well as my uncle’s. Both of cancer. And my mother who, much like the main character, has her own daily battles and probably never thought she’d be strong enough to take on managing the care and death of someone she loves, but did so twice. People often have more strength than they realize, and those who step up in these situations rarely get the recognition or appreciation that they deserve.

I did find the whole magical creature a bit odd and out of place. It actually broke the spell of the book the few times it came up mostly because it never really seemed to go anywhere. I imagine there is some sort of symbolism I’m not grasping or appreciating. Not enough to entirely take away from the book, but a bit that could have been left out entirely without negatively impacting the story.

Excellent read.

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