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Shivah: A Novel from Memory by Lisa Solod

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Constructed in seven parts to mimic the seven days of shivah, the Jewish period of mourning wherein the mourners enter the home of the bereaved and sit and pray with them, Shivah is an exploration of difficult family relationships, of mental health, and of negotiating selfhood in the face of adversity.

When Leah’s mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it becomes clear that there will be no reconciliation with the woman who has played a big and dangerous role in her life. As Leah chronicles her mother’s descent into nothingness, she recreates and reimagines the life of a dynamic, multifaceted, and mercurial woman who struggled with her mental health and who had difficulty navigating the role of wife and mother.

More about Lisa Solod

Praises for Shivah

“‘I didn’t know which mother to grieve,’ Lisa Solod writes in her closely observed and heartbreaking novel Shivah. As her mother sinks deeply into Alzheimer’s, Leah must come to terms with a broken relationship that now will never have time to heal. With a journalist’s eye and a daughter’s heart, Solod puts her character on a quest for the pearl of peace in the dark
water of bitterness and loss—a painful journey that will leave readers deeply moved.”

Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

“Solod gives her readers a command performance—one that leaves the reader filled with empathy and sympathy both.”

Linda Gray Sexton, author of Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton and Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide

“‘But grief has its own timeline,’ just like these words, Shivah honors and reveals Lisa Solod’s ability to cut into the soul of grief. I felt privileged to be let into the multilayered relationship between a daughter and her mother.”

Carly Israel, author of Seconds and Inches

Shivah is a beautiful, moving meditation on the multiple, complex, and often conflicting layers of grief. Through her narrator’s spiraling introspection, Solod asks what it means to lose someone long before you’ve lost them, to grieve what might have been as well as what was.”

Ilana Masad, author of All My Mother’s Lovers

“The ritual of shivah offers comfort and connection, a way to let mourners know they are not alone in their grief. Lisa Solod’s thoughtful, moving novel named for this ritual does the same. Anyone who’s dealt with an alcoholic mother, or an emotionally abusive mother, or a mother with dementia or similarly painful and complicated issues, will find comfort and connection in these pages. I found so many echoes of my own complex mother and our tangled relationship in this novel, myself, and am grateful for the sisterhood and insight Lisa Solod provides.”
Gayle Brandeis, author of The Art of Misdiagnosis


“…Shivah works to peel back the complexities behind not only the women of this family, but the emotional drainage that one experiences when forced to grieve a loved one while they’re yet still alive—even as the concept of what it means to be a “loved one” gets continually challenged in this family.”

Nia Dickens, Sinking City (University of Miami)

“The prose is warm, flowing, and textured, mixing prose with poetry, quotes, and journal entries. Written as a detailed character study, it explores the realities of living with a difficult parent…Shivah is an introspective novel in which a daughter trades her angry resentment for compassion and love after her mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Erika Harlitz Kern, Foreword Reviews