Alternative Remedies For Loss: A Novel by Joanna Cantor


It felt like an iconic moment in the movie of her life gone sour. She knew she should go home- it was just one regrettable night of drinks, nothing that couldn’t be washed off. 

Olivia left Vassar to be with her mother during her final days, and something inside of her withers with the immense loss. Everyone else in her family is coping far better than her. Olivia’s father is dating a woman named June, who seems a bit ‘too comfortable’ for Olivia’s liking, inviting her on a family trip that was meant to be a healing after her mother’s death. “Her anger was a poison that wouldn’t stop spreading until it had infected every part of that trip.” It’s hard not to understand her emotional

She knows she should be putting her life in some semblance of order, instead she allows herself to rebel, to make men ‘earn’ her time. This pivotal moment will rear its ugly head later, because sometimes when you roll in the dirt, it leaves stains. Olivia is young and crashing along, making mistakes, very self-centered but the young often are. That’s not an accusation, when we’re young everything tends to revolve around us, because we don’t have other things pulling us away, we’re so focused on trying to figure out not just who we are and who we want to be but also, how to attain the future we want. You throw relationships and loss into that mix, and it can spell disaster. Olivia can’t see past her nose sometimes, but as the only daughter she has a different way of relating in the family dynamic. Mothers and daughters have a unique bond, there is never enough time to take away everything we need.

Finding letters to her mother from the mysterious F is not something she can let go of, and it puts her on a sort of spiritual quest, that ends up giving her more questions than answers. Her mother was the spiritual one, not her. This is default, this is a way to connect to her mother. That she was a person, with her own longings and needs, not just a mother, that she had her own choice to make about her illness, will leave Olivia rocking. The truth is, she can’t move forward without looking back. Maybe we never fully understand our family anymore than we can dissect the things we do to ourselves.

As Olivia unravels, she falls pretty low, but somewhere inside of her remains the smart, hopeful, strong woman she has yet become.

Publication Date: May 8, 2018

Bloomsbury USA

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