Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Book Review: Tomorrow Comes

Tomorrow Comes is a daring coming-of-age book (A bildungsroman) – the first in a new series – in which an ordinary teenager must come to terms with her own mortality, the loss of all she once knew, and an other-worldly set of rules. The results are dark and uplifting, heart-breaking and humorous, poignant and poetic.

 Based on a true story of love and family, grief and joy, Tomorrow Comes (Starshine Galaxy, 2014) is inspired by the sudden and unexpected death of author Donna Mebane’s own daughter.

Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy

This was an intriguing book. Tomorrow Comes gave me some difficulty at first. It is a young adult (YA) novel. The horror and the angst of losing a child kept haunting me as a parent and an adult reader. Since the author, Donna Mebane, based the novel on the sudden loss of her own daughter Emma, I kept being of two minds. Firstly, she is giving intimate insight into the psyche of her grieving family. I felt, at first, like a voyeur.

I read about half, then picked it up a few days later. The point of view of the grief experienced by family members, friends, and the community, shapes each chapter. Her insight into the grief experienced by each felt, at first, as if I was watching the media as they search the crowds for 'the crier', the close-ups as they zoom in to capture tears.

That made a difference, as I anticipated this review. I changed my perspective from that of a parent, to that of a teen, searching for comfort. Facing death can lead a young person into maturity or abject despair.


noun: A novel concerned with the maturing of someone from childhood to adulthood.

I read it to the end, on a cold, rainy, yucky pseudowinter day. It warmed me, as I tried to change my mindset: what could I learn from this book?  While any book, any journaling around grief, death and dying, helps the writer, this book could be comforting to young people. We know how much kids are affected by the death of someone their own age. Kids, at risk for depression, can engage in self-harm. This book helps those searching for answers.

Whenever a student in my classroom lost a grandparent, I would grab a picture book, often loaning it to the family. There are many that deal with death and dying. I would use these to promote discussion and open up the classroom community to sharing their needs, fears, hopes and beliefs. It doesn't matter what we believe. It does help to share the grief. The activities need not be limited to elementary students.

The novel, written with the support of the author's adult child, illuminated the grieving process for modern day teenagers who create Community through Facebook, technology, and other social media. I have found that when my late mother wants to communicate with us –she sends smells (pine needles or cleaning products) to my husband. This is ironic, since mom had lost her sense of smell from a childhood disease, and hubby (my 2nd husband), knew her for such a short time.

It doesn't matter what your beliefs are, how can we prove one another wrong? This book would give the parent of a grieving child hope, and a point from which conversations could take place. It is important to open up our minds. It is important to move through grief, mourning and bereavement, towards a place where life goes on. The hardest task of a grieving parent with more than one child, is remembering to honour the child who still lives.

For more ideas and resources:

Children and bereavement

  1. Respect their needs: to talk or be silent.
  2. Deal with the issues as they arise.
  3. Talk to a professional if you need to.
  4. Listen to their concerns.
  5. Let them know you are upset.
  6. Model your strategy for dealing with grief.
  7. Do not give them answers if you really do not know the answers.
  8. Clear up misconceptions, i.e., false threats, that is it *their* fault.
  9. Let them tell their stories: drawing, creating poems, writing letters.
  10. Make a fear box. Cut out pictures from magazine that represent their fears and place them in the box.
  11. Have them prioritize their fears and talk to you about them.
  12. Help others: food banks, give a donation to a cause related to your issue.
  13. Read books for children about death and dying. (See my list) There are many for children that help them better understand that life is about, and death, too.


William Kendall said...

Thanks for pointing the book out. It feels poignant.

Sarah Laurence said...

Excellent advice and a fine review! I imagine that writing this novel was cathartic for the author too.

Ellen Booraem said...

Wow. This one might be hard to read, but it sounds like the rewards might be worth the effort. Thanks for letting me know about it.

Linda McLaughlin said...

This would be hard for me to read right now, but glad you found it worthwhile.

Barrie said...

It sounds as though the author dug deep to write this book. Perhaps that is why you felt like somewhat of a voyeur. It was so personal and poignant. Thanks for providing the list of suggestion for children and bereavement. And, of course, thanks for reviewing, Jenn!