Author and illustrator Tyler Feder shares the profound grief she felt when her beloved mother died when Feder was nineteen in this moving and poignant memoir.

Feder, the eldest of three sisters, had an especially close bond with her mother so more than ten years after losing her mother she wrote and illustrated a graphic novel to both honor her mother and process her own grief. During Feder’s freshman year in college, her mother developed stomach pains that were sadly diagnosed as ovarian cancer, stage four. At first, the family had hope that their mother would recover, but within a year she died surrounded by her loved ones. Feder shares the stages of grief she went through, both before her mother’s death and in the weeks, months and years afterward.

The Feder family is of the Jewish faith, and while I had heard of families observing Shiva, which is a week of mourning after a loved one’s funeral, so I appreciated how Feder shared how this lovely ritual helps families with grief. She also capably shows how the loss of a loved one is a burden you will carry the rest of your days, but also the healing and growth that can occur because of what was endured. The illustrations were simple, yet evocative, and will appeal to both teens and adults. Many of the panels used pink and other soft colors, which was calming and affirming. A bit of humor, in the midst of the heartbreak, shows the realities of life and how life marches onward.

I recently read The House, another graphic novel about mourning a parent, and both were so well done about all the feelings that one can possibly go through as you lose a cornerstone of your early life. As I have lost both my parents, I can relate to Feder’s honest retelling of what she went through. I would absolutely put this in the hands of anyone who has lost their parent, especially if they lost a parent at an early age.