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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A gift for those who grieve, this exquisite, in all senses of the word, novella is a lesson in bearing the unbearable.

Michel Rostain, wonderful, marvellous, magnificent man that he clearly is, has fashioned his terrible heartbreak into something of truly great value. With a sibling relationship to Joan Didier's `A Year of Magical Thinking' and `Lovely Bones' , `Son' is the big brother of such loss memoirs, a giant astride the chasm between the ordinary day to day life we lead and the terror of the other side, when the worst possible thing happens to a family.

Lion, their beloved only child, died quite unexpectedly, at 21, of meningitis. His mother Martine and father Michel stumbled, lost and bewildered, through the following days and years, moving towards a realization that they were promised on day one, that `you can live with it'. How they got there, the revelations that touched and taught them along the way, should be compulsory reading. A classic.

So don't even pick this up unless you have a few spare hours to give in to the writing. It is part reality, part fiction and attempts to explain the unexplainable. Lion is no spooky supernatural presence; he is real to them and us, speaking to us `in the easy way ... always used'. His observation of his parents sorrow is balanced and cool, watchful and kind but from a great distance. This is easy to go along with and makes the slow unfolding of the seven stages of grief a work to watch.

Towards the end there are exciting developments which cheer and encourage, excite and please. The close friendships enjoyed and nurtured by Lion's parents offer another dimension, sharing and caring in the most beautiful way. Their lifelong joy in music, singing, and theatre, which is their working life, blossoms and blooms over their pain. An important trip away to Iceland settles and soothes. Goodness prevails and offers balm. `Dad' refuses the anodyne, the everyday, the accepted wisdom. He stubbornly holds fast against madness, unbelievable experiences, all must have explanations. However such revenances, dreams, gifts or `postcards' as my friend who lost her 21 year old daughter calls them, will happen. A message comes from Lion's narrative that reassures and calms.

`Son' demands huge respect for Michel's bravery, which gently cradled it from birth to publication. The unveiling of such raw bereavement is desolating yet salutary. Being originally written in French gives it a piquancy and romance, which enriches the reading.

This is the most generous book I have ever read.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
'The Son' by Michel Rostain is a book that deals with the greatest loss of all - the loss of a child. Lion is 21 when he dies from meningitis, and this book tells of the aftermath of his death, and the effect it has on his Mother and Father, and his friends. The book is actually told through Michel's eyes,by Lion, who sees the way that his sudden death has impacted on his family, and watches how they struggle to comprehend the hugeness of it all. It is very hard to read such a story, as this is a situation that we all, as parents, fear the most. For me, the questions that Michel asks himself are unbearable - the 'what if's' the 'if only's' - all the things that we ask ourselves that can't be answered. I thought the book might be unbearably sad, would make me cry, would be depressing..............but it wasn't. It IS sad of course, but as it says , it is 'Not a book about death. It's a book about Life.' It is a book about Lion, his life, his family, and of course, his death, and the ensuing pain of those who are left to live on without him. There are joyful memories in the book, there is happiness, and there is the enigma that is death - the finality of it, the loss, but also the enduring love that stays, that continues, and doesn't end just because the loved one is no longer here. I hope that writing this book has helped Michel and his wife, that it has allowed them in some way to come to terms with the loss of Lion, and I admire and respect them for sharing their loss in such a way. Highly recommended.
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on 30 July 2013
A very moving account of the situation following the death of a young man from meningitis. A very unusual narrative in that it is relayed by the youth who has died, rather than his next of kin.
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on 14 July 2013
A wonderfully different style to what I have read before, I loved it however I needed to have tissues handy throughout the book.
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on 25 June 2013
Because I thought it was very moving and a different view on death as the story was from the deceased still very sad and makes you think how we sometimes take our own children as always going to be there!
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am always drawn to books about the heart of life - the things we oftentimes can't look at or talk about - and so was looking forward to reading this book, to see how the author would handle this hugely distressing situation.
It was interesting to get the perspective of a man confronted by grief, albeit initially heavily focused on 'philosophy'. But then again, we often start to deal with life-changing pain by trying to fit it within our personal philosophy - to work things out with our head instead of our heart. If we are able to open up to the wider experience and engage with the heart more than the mind, it can take us on a very different journey, one that is more likely to give us comfort in the small things, which can be amazingly helpful in enabling us to cope and to come to 'live with it'.
It was also, for me, a very interesting insight into the mindset of the father around the issues of health and approaching death, and the somatic/mental connection. It can be quite distressing to think along these lines, if we take the issue of choice in these life and death matters to the logical conclusion. But of course there is more to us than our conscious mind and we are not always driving the bus that is our life..
It was very gratifying to encounter this perspective though, not least because it gave the parents more mental scope to accept the synchronicities that they welcomed as loving gifts, as these things are meant to be received, and to help them let go of the enormous guilt that most of us feel when a loved one dies and we feel we could have done more to connect with them - and to save them.
I gave the book four stars simply because I found the writing style a little difficult to engage with. But it is definitely a very worthwhile read.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Son may be only a short book but it was not one that I was looking forward to reading. This is because it is about the one thing that no parent would chose to contemplate, let alone read a book about it, and that is the death of a child. Having read it I have no doubt that it is a wonderfully well written book, maybe even an important book, but it is not a book that I particularly enjoyed reading.

The story is about the death of the author's son who was struck down, aged just twenty-one, by meningitis. What makes this book special is that it is written from the perspective of the deceased, Lion. This means that whilst the book charts his parent's grief and their struggle to come to terms with their loss it also manages to avoid any mawkish sentimentality. The author uses his son to give voice to his regrets for what he didn't do prior to his son's death; why did he waste time shopping when his son was dying, why didn't he spend more time with Lion? He also talks us through the immediate aftermath of Lion's death and the preparations his funeral, an intensely sad time that for his parents offered no possibility of a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

This book was a best-seller in France and I suspect that this translation, by Adriana Hunter, will become a big seller in the UK too.
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on 23 September 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
I bought this as a kindle book and also took the chance to have a review copy as well. It started well and I had high hopes for what I'd anticipated would be an unusual and potentially quite emotional read. Unusual maybe, in that it is narrated by the son who has just died but emotional - well actually this what it was lacking. I felt like the son was (and I'm sorry if this sounds harsh) quite an unlikable character. I have a friend who read this (and that's what prompted me to buy the kindle version) and raved about it talking about the sadness and tears but I was honestly relieved when I was finished it. The funeral of Lion (the son who has died) was quite grotesque to read about becoming theatrical in its portrayal. I did think the ending was good though and provided some inspiration for the readers. It isn't a story I'll be recommending and it isn't a book I'll be hanging on to. For me, it was just okay.
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on 8 June 2013
The Son is an incredibly emotional read. It's a short story, but not one that is enjoyable or comfortable to read. It's about a subject that no parent wants to experience. The death of their child. It is such a well written book and I would say that it's an important book for those dealing with a bereavement.

By telling it from Lion's (Michel's son) voice it doesn't come across as too sentimental. The grief is clearly expressed, but Michel uses his son's voice to express the regrets he had as Lion was dying. Michel documents the death and the preparations for the funeral. I found myself feeling very moved by the writing. It just felt so raw and honest. I really respect Michel Rostain for documenting the journey of grief in this way. I'm sure he's helped many individuals suffering from the loss of a loved one.

I thoroughly recommend this book. It's not an easy to read or a light read full of fluff. It's a true, raw, beautiful read.
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on 13 January 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Michel Rostain writes of the greatest sadness of all - the loss of a child. In this translation from the original French, the author writes from the viewpoint of the deceased child, his intention being to demonstrate that death is part of life - you can live with it. Moving and unusual in its treatment of this difficult subject - and therefore recommended, though not a cheerful read.
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