“Crossing the River: Seven Stories That Saved My Life” is a sort of memoir in the form of a collection of essays. If you are looking for something hopeful and uplifting, this is not the memoir for you. If you are looking for something heavy and oppressive, this is the memoir for you. And is that because, in a way, it’s almost like a survival guide. Carol Smith lays out the tools she discovered amidst all the pain and grief, the tools that helped her get from one day to the next.
Because, and I agree with this thinking, sometimes it is all you can do.
Ms. Smith immersed herself, as a newspaper journalist, in struggle and tragedy after the personal struggle and tragedy she had endured, and would never really not be enduring, that came with the severe illness and eventual death of her small son. Some people can’t do that, some people can’t read that. Some people need to put their grief There and move to Other Things. In a way, it seems like Ms. Smith needed her grief to be always right Here while she lost herself in stories cut through with undercurrents of grief and struggle, because in seeing others survive, shew as able to remind herself that she could do it too.
None of the seven stories are easy to read, easy to digest and appreciate. But there is a raw beauty in the pain in them, and that’s what makes tomorrow possible… the painful beauty that living can be.
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
(Thanks to NetGalley and Abrams Press for the chance to read an early copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.)