Dancing at the Pity Party

Dial. Apr. 2020. 208p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780525553021.
Gr 8 Up–Feder’s tender memoir of coping with a parent’s death deftly and sensitively blends joy, anguish, and even whimsy. The author was just 19 when her mother, Rhonda, was diagnosed with stage-four cancer, with little chance of survival. Feder was often away at college while her family oversaw Rhonda’s treatment in Florida. During a visit home, Feder was shocked to find Rhonda had taken a turn for the worse, passing away mere days later. Equal parts celebration, reflection, and mourning, this graphic memoir touches on the unpredictable path of grief. Feder shares her experience of navigating death with beauty and raw honesty. At times, the pastel coloring belies the somber moments, but the powder soft pinks also celebrate Feder’s memory of Rhonda and emphasize Tyler’s youth. The minimal backgrounds center the focus on Feder and her family, and the controlled but loose lines speak to the ever present conflict between Feder’s need for stability and the chaos into which she was thrust. The chapters end with illustrated tips, lists, and other quirky yet informative extras.
VERDICT Grieving teens will find incredible solace in Feder’s story; all readers will be stirred by this wrenching yet uplifting musing. Hand this one to readers who are ready to move past Raina Telgemeier’s work and take a step closer to Lucy Knisley’s memoirs.

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