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Alternative Remedies for Loss    by Joanna Cantor order for
Alternative Remedies for Loss
by Joanna Cantor
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2019 (2018)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

It would be awful to have your mother die while you are young. Olivia Harris is twenty-two and a college student when her mother informs her family that she has a cancerous brain tumor and has only months to live.

Olivia is the youngest of three children, and her older brothers seem settled in their jobs and lives. One is married and the other is engaged to be married, but Olivia's boyfriend has recently broken up with her, so she feels like she's the only family member who has no one outside it to turn to for comfort. Her parents aren't happy about her decision to take a leave of absence from her last semester at Vassar to spend time with her mother during her last few weeks of life, but Olivia will not be dissuaded.

After her mother dies, Olivia's father makes arrangements to take the whole family to India, saying he promised her mother, who had always wanted to go. Olivia and her mother had talked about going together, but the trip her father plans is nothing like the one that the two women had talked about. On top of that, Olivia is horrified when she discovers that the friend her father is bringing is a woman. She and her brothers are shocked that he's already dating four months after his wife died. Olivia's anger and grief combine to make the trip into an almost unbearable experience for her.

Instead of returning to college, Olivia starts working at a production company in a job that one of her brothers helps her get. Alternative Remedies for Loss is her story of the months after her mother's death when Olivia suffers through her grief, tries to learn more about her mother and who she really was, and, in the process, grows up herself. She learns some surprising information about her mother that sends her back to India, but to the India that she believed attracted her mother's interest.

Although this is primarily Olivia's story, all the main characters, including the members of the family and their close associates, are fully realized people with their own feelings and lives. All of the family members feel the loss of the mother and deal with it in their own ways. The family dynamics seem true to life in this beautifully written book.

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