March 2010 Indie Next List
“After the death of their married daughter, Roger Rosenblatt and his wife take on all that they can to help their son-in-law and grandchildren. The pain of the story is beautifully mitigated by the elegance of the language, and ^Making Toast^ is inspiring. This is a book to cherish.”
— Dana Brigham, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
From O magazine to the New York Times, from authors such as E. L. Doctorow to Ann Beattie, critics and writers across the country have hailed Roger Rosenblatt's Making Toast as an evocative, moving testament to the enduring power of a parent's love and the bonds of family.
When Roger's daughter, Amya gifted doctor, mother, and wifecollapses and dies from an asymptomatic heart condition at age thirty-eight, Roger and his wife, Ginny, leave their home on the South Shore of Long Island to move in with their son-in-law, Harris, and their three young grandchildren: six-year-old Jessica, four-year-old Sammy, and one-year-old James, known as Bubbies.
Long past the years of diapers, homework, and recitals, Roger and GinnyBoppo and Mimi to the kidsquickly reaccustom themselves to the world of small children: bedtime stories, talking toys, play-dates, nonstop questions, and nonsequential thought. Though reeling from Amy's death, they carry on, reconstructing a family, sustaining one another, and guiding three lively, alert, and tenderhearted children through the pains and confusions of grief. As he marvels at the strength of his son-in-law and the tenacity and skill of his wife, Roger attends each day to "the one household duty I have mastered"preparing the morning toast perfectly to each child's liking.
Luminous, precise, and utterly unsentimental, Making Toast is both a tribute to the singular Amy and a brave exploration of the human capacity to move through and live with grief.
About the Author
Roger Rosenblatt's essays for Time and The NewsHour on PBS have won two George Polk Awards, the Peabody, and the Emmy. He is the author of six off- Broadway plays and seventeen books, including New York Times Notable Books Kayak Morning and The Boy Detective, as well as other national bestsellers Unless It Moves the Human Heart, Making Toast, Rules for Aging, and Children of War, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has held the Briggs-Copeland appointment in the teaching of writing at Harvard, and is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University. He lives in Quogue, New York.
“Rosenblatt…sets a perfect tone and finds the right words to describe how his family is coming with their grief… It may seem odd to call a book about such a tragic event charming, but it is. There is indeed life-after death, and Rosenblatt proves that without a doubt.”
“[MAKING TOAST] is about coping with grief, caring for children and creating an ad hoc family for as long as this particular configuration is required, but mostly it’s a textbook on what constitutes perfect writing and how to be a class act.”
-Carolyn See, The Washington Post
“[An] exquisite, restrained little memoir filled with both hurt and humor.”
-NPR's All Things Considered
“Sad but somehow triumphant, this memoir is a celebration of family, and of how, even in the deepest sorrow, we can discover new links of love and the will to go on.”
-O, The Oprah Magazine
-Christian Science Monitor
“Rosenblatt avoids the sentimentality that might have weighed down [Making Toast]; he writes with humor and an engagement with life that makes the occasional flashes of grief all the more telling. The result is a beautiful account of human loss, measured by the steady effort to fill in the void.
“A painfully beautiful memoir telling how grandparents are made over into parents, how people die out of order, how time goes backwards. Written with such restraint as to be both heartbreaking and instructive.”
Roger Rosenblatt means, I believe, to teach patience, love, a fondness for the quotidian, and a deftness for saving the lost moment—when faced with lacerating loss. These are brilliant lessons, fiercely-learned. But Rosenblatt comes to them and to us—suitably—with immense humility.
“A must read for all....By no means treacly with sentiment, the book takes us through the ordinary along with the extra-ordinary events in the life of this family as they struggle to regain their center and go on with their lives.
“[A] gem of a memoir... sad, funny, brave and luminous....[a] rare and generous book.”
-Los Angeles Times
“[A] piercing account of broken hearts [that] records how love, hurt, and responsibility can, through antic wit and tenderness, turn a shattered household into a luminous new-made family.”
“Written so forthrightly, but so delicately, that you feel you’re a part of this family... How lucky some of us are to see clearly what needs to be done, even in the saddest, most life-altering circumstances.”
“There are circumstances in which prose is poetry, and the unornamented candor of Rosenblatt’s writing slowly attains to a sober sort of lyricism...This is more than just a moving book. It is also a useful book....[Rosenblatt’s] toast is buttered with wisdom. ”
-Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic