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In Dahlia’s Wake
by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Category: Fiction / General
292 pages; ISBN: 0385503628

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

In Dahlia’s Wake
Yona Zeldis McDonough
Doubleday, May 2005, $23.95, 292 pp.
ISBN: 0385503628

In the months since their seven-year-old daughter Dahlia died podiatrist Rick and schoolteacher Naomi Wechsler have grown apart rather than finding comfort with one another. Neither can explain to the other how they feel; as each day passes, the estrangement widens.

Overwhelmed with obsessive grief and ignoring Rick’s censure, Naomi quits teaching to volunteer at the Holy Name of Jesus Hospital where Dahlia died. Unable to obtain solace from Rick because she holds him culpable since he was driving when the accident that killed Dahlia occurred, Naomi turns to Dr. Michael McBride for consolation; he informed the couple that their child died.

Rick feels guilty over Dahlia’s death, but also believes that Naomi blames him for the death. Needing comfort, he turns to office assistant single mother Lillian whose ex has let down their eleven year old son again; Lillian finds warmth and understanding in his arms.

Remorse over cheating on top of his feeling guilty for the death forces Rick to confess his affair; this drives Naomi further over the edge as she considers philandering with Michael. Will she cheat or forgive?

IN DAHLIA’S WAKE is a deep look at grieving an unexpected loss of a beloved preadolescent child by her parents. The lead couple has been close since college handling rough situations like Naomi’s miscarriages as a team, but Dahlia’s death is different. They mourn their loss in dissimilar manners, which cause a schism that feeds on the other’s personal grief. Although an unnecessary improbable final spin occurs and several pivotal moments seem contrived to make infidelity to easy an option, family drama fans will appreciate this strong look at loss.

Harriet Klausner

 

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