'This Too Shall Pass' and a life after loss

Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 6:23pm

From the opening pages of “This Too Shall Pass,” it’s clear that this book is more than what meets the eye, and definitely a book not to be judged from its cover. The summary on the book explains that the story follows Blanca, a 40-year-old mother of two who is now having to cope with the loss of her own mother through dementia, but this sells the story short. At first this seems like the book would be a harrowing experience for the reader; however this is entirely not the case. This book is a treasure trove of witty insights, with a very modern take on living with loss.

Translated from the original Spanish — and set in Spain — reading this book feels like a lovely trip to the Mediterranean with a few friends. Despite the sombre beginnings, and Blanca’s constant referrals to “you,” her deceased mother, the book maintains an unusually optimistic tone. Blanca is a deep, real and quirky main character, and despite the brevity of the book, her insights on the world are both inspirational and intelligent. Her interactions with other characters in the book are unusually brief, and no quotation marks are used; instead dashes indicate the start of speech, and the end has to be inferred by the reader as there is no clear change from the end of a character talking to Blanca’s personal thoughts. This quickly draws the attention back to our heroine’s inner monologues, which are the highlight of the book, and definitely more interesting that what the side characters have to say.

The entirety of “This Too Shall Pass” feels like an in-depth character analysis of the main character, more than a romance or tragedy. Blanca stumbles through encounters with lovers and ex-husbands in several scenarios, but these men are just fleeting moments before we are returned to Blanca once again pondering her relationship with her lost mother. Although this may seem to distract from the current events, it is these flashbacks and ponderings that are really the highlight of this book. Through these we learn the convoluted history between Blanca and her mother, and throughout the book these emotions of loss and conflicted love between mother and daughters serve to create a lovely mosaic of the history between the two women. Because the book is written from the author’s own experience of losing her mother, it is easy to see where the emotional inspiration came from; at times it feels like the reader is peeking into a diary.

This book is a completely uplifting and eye-opening experience, as it goes through emotions that many people may not have experienced themselves, and shows how there’s always a way out of the other side of hardship. Regardless of the reader’s age, it’s incredible insightful and all the characters offer small tidbits into their lives. Blanca is a wonderful protagonist that isn’t perfect in many ways, but her bumbling and convoluted ramblings make her compassionate and someone who you’d want to get a beer with. The book never feels dragged out, and the ending is open for interpretations; it doesn’t feel like it has a conclusion. It is both wistful and upbeat and fits the theme of the hopefulness that the book carries with it.

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“This Too Shall Pass”

Milena Busquets

Hogarth