Our Short History doesn’t traffic in platitudes or soft-focus farewell monologues. For that, we are all grateful. Instead, Lauren Grodstein has subtly written a cathartic and unexpectedly profound book that connects with an experience we all hope to put off as long as possible. It’s also impossible to put down ... Just as you think that Grodstein is steering her reader down a well-trodden road, she turns cliché on a dime. Her gimlet eye offers surprises throughout the book ... Our Short History delivers the emotional punch you expect it to, only it comes from an angle you didn’t anticipate. This letter from mother to son speaks to all.
...it’s a conceit that only partly works. If this book were in actuality a record of a mother and son’s short, precious time together, it would never include ruminations on campaign strategy or the writer’s innermost thoughts (think: sex and revenge) about the boy’s father ... If you can get past the gimmick, however, a tender tale unfolds ... Grodstein, with poignancy and mordant humor helps us see and sympathize with a mother’s illogical desperation ... Grodstein has a fine touch, alternately sarcastic, perceptive and wistful.
It is a story about finding humanity on the 'other' side, whichever side that may be ...Grodstein takes on the voice of 43-year-old Karen Neulander, a Democratic political consultant who’s dying from late-stage ovarian cancer and preparing to leave her young son, Jacob, behind ... So she writes Jacob a book to document their short history. It is a loving, sincere, often grueling account that refuses sentimentality. Karen lays it all on the table ... Our Short History is most hard-hitting in its essential truth about what it means to be a dying, or even just an aging woman in the pressure cooker that is American culture, where youth and vitality are valued above all else.