Book Review: Sorry For Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foley

 

Sorry For Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foley

Harper Teen | February 11th, 2020

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

From Goodreads:

As the youngest of eight, painfully average Pup Flanagan is used to flying under the radar. He’s barely passing his classes. He lets his longtime crush walk all over him. And he’s in no hurry to decide on a college path.
The only person who ever made him think he could be more was his older brother Patrick. But that was before Patrick died suddenly, leaving Pup with a family who won’t talk about it and acquaintances who just keep saying, “sorry for your loss.”
When Pup excels at a photography assignment he thought he’d bomb, things start to come into focus. His dream girl shows her true colors. An unexpected friend exposes Pup to a whole new world, right under his nose.
And the photograph that was supposed to show Pup a way out of his grief ultimately reveals someone else who is still stuck in their own. Someone with a secret regret Pup never could have imagined.

At times, this book reads like a written version of Shameless -- a tv series featuring a dysfunctional family whose father is neglectful and deranged personified. His kids learned to take care of themselves and most often would be embroiled in violence, drugs, alcohol and sex. But this book is not to that extreme. Instead of a neglectful head of the family, the parents live in their own bubble of oblivion; escaping in their own fantasy that life is good and normal, numbed from the grief with the loss of their son. 

Pup Flanagan, the youngest of a brood of eight learned to exist like a household furniture. Nobody really cares if he's tanking his grades. For the most part, he's accepted it. But there are days when he wishes someone would care. He idolized his older brother Patrick but when he died, the family imploded from the inside. He still has the support of his sister, and sometimes, when Luke, his other older brother is sober, he finds a bit of comfort knowing he's somewhat present in his life. 

When he gets the opportunity to salvage his grades through an elective Photography class, he did his best to flourish in his way. Surprisingly enough, the photos he submitted won that qualified him for the national competition. And with this success, life seems to be getting a bit better. His long time crush starts paying attention to him, and for a time, he doesn't feel like he's drowning. 

Art can sometimes expose a part of you that you're more than likely to hide. Your fears, your emotions, your dreams and aspirations -- even nightmares. In this case, Pup starts learning about his family and why practically each one has learned how to avoid talking about their feelings and the fact that losing Patrick was like losing the collective hearts of the family. It is sad and my heart broke for Pup over and over again. He lost his brother, his best friend -- his idol. The one who never did once treat him unkindly, and was, for his short life like a father to Pup. Because their parents are older, they're almost his grandparents. So everyone walked around them on eggshells. Making sure that their world is on even keel even though it's far from it. 

Finding this book was like the ultimate hubris. I never expected to be so affected by it. Pup was a character who burrow himself into me like a sliver. He made me think about all the other kids out there who are struggling and alone even if they're surrounded by their own family. It also made me think about the importance of art as a reflection of our inner selves, inspiration for others, and a way to heal our inner turmoil. 

Comments

  1. It looks well done and intense. I'm curious now!

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  2. I like stories like this that examine what it's like to grow up not sure what we want out of life or whatever, or in this case the neglectful aspects of his upbringing. Maybe we never outgrow those. And this "He made me think about all the other kids out there who are struggling ". Yes, this book definitely sounds like it does that! And nice too that it looks at how art/ creativity can help.

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  3. Beautiful review, J! Some books hit you like that.❤

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  4. Wow, I've seen Shameless and holy dysfunctional family. This sounds good. Wonderful review :)

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  5. Shameless is the ultimate dysfunctional family lol This sounds like a really powerful read.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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  6. I did have to give up on Shameless, it was too much, but a book I could take. It does make you feel

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  7. I haven't seen Shameless but this sounds like a really powerful novel. Pup sounds like a fantastic character. I will have to look for this one.

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  8. I think it would be hard not to check out if you lost a child, but still, your other kids! Glad to hear he found some solace in art. It does sound like a wonderfully emotional read. Lovely review, Joy! :)

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  9. I love this book! It snuck up on me as well. It looks so unassuming, but it's a beautiful novel that packs a big wallop. I'm glad you found and loved it.

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  10. omg I'm binging Shameless now. I'm not sure I need any more dysfunction lol

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