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Making Toast: A Family Story [Paperback]

Roger Rosenblatt
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 7 2011

“A painfully beautiful memoir….Written with such restraint as to be both heartbreaking and instructive.”

—E. L. Doctorow


A revered, many times honored (George Polk, Peabody, and Emmy Award winner, to name but a few) journalist, novelist, and playwright, Roger Rosenblatt shares the unforgettable story of the tragedy that changed his life and his family. A book that grew out of his popular December 2008 essay in The New Yorker, Making Toast is a moving account of unexpected loss and recovery in the powerful tradition of About Alice and The Year of Magical Thinking. Writer Ann Beattie offers high praise to the acclaimed author of Lapham Rising and Beet for a memoir that is, “written so forthrightly, but so delicately, that you feel you’re a part of this family.”

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“Rosenblatt…sets a perfect tone and finds the right words to describe how his family is coming with their grief… It may seem odd to call a book about such a tragic event charming, but it is. There is indeed life-after death, and Rosenblatt proves that without a doubt.” (USA Today)

“[MAKING TOAST] is about coping with grief, caring for children and creating an ad hoc family for as long as this particular configuration is required, but mostly it’s a textbook on what constitutes perfect writing and how to be a class act.” (Carolyn See, The Washington Post)

“[An] exquisite, restrained little memoir filled with both hurt and humor.” (NPR's All Things Considered)

“Sad but somehow triumphant, this memoir is a celebration of family, and of how, even in the deepest sorrow, we can discover new links of love and the will to go on.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)

“Hauntingly lovely.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“Rosenblatt avoids the sentimentality that might have weighed down [Making Toast]; he writes with humor and an engagement with life that makes the occasional flashes of grief all the more telling. The result is a beautiful account of human loss, measured by the steady effort to fill in the void. (Publishers Weekly)

“A painfully beautiful memoir telling how grandparents are made over into parents, how people die out of order, how time goes backwards. Written with such restraint as to be both heartbreaking and instructive.” (E.L. Doctorow)

Roger Rosenblatt means, I believe, to teach patience, love, a fondness for the quotidian, and a deftness for saving the lost moment—when faced with lacerating loss. These are brilliant lessons, fiercely-learned. But Rosenblatt comes to them and to us—suitably—with immense humility. (Richard Ford)

“A must read for all....By no means treacly with sentiment, the book takes us through the ordinary along with the extra-ordinary events in the life of this family as they struggle to regain their center and go on with their lives. (

“[A] gem of a memoir... sad, funny, brave and luminous....[a] rare and generous book.” (Los Angeles Times)

“[A] piercing account of broken hearts [that] records how love, hurt, and responsibility can, through antic wit and tenderness, turn a shattered household into a luminous new-made family.” (Cynthia Ozick)

“Written so forthrightly, but so delicately, that you feel you’re a part of this family... How lucky some of us are to see clearly what needs to be done, even in the saddest, most life-altering circumstances.” (Ann Beattie)

“There are circumstances in which prose is poetry, and the unornamented candor of Rosenblatt’s writing slowly attains to a sober sort of lyricism...This is more than just a moving book. It is also a useful book....[Rosenblatt’s] toast is buttered with wisdom. ” (Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic)

From the Back Cover

From O magazine to the New York Times, from authors such as E. L. Doctorow to Ann Beattie, critics and writers across the country have hailed Roger Rosenblatt's Making Toast as an evocative, moving testament to the enduring power of a parent's love and the bonds of family.

When Roger's daughter, Amy—a gifted doctor, mother, and wife—collapses and dies from an asymptomatic heart condition at age thirty-eight, Roger and his wife, Ginny, leave their home on the South Shore of Long Island to move in with their son-in-law, Harris, and their three young grandchildren: six-year-old Jessica, four-year-old Sammy, and one-year-old James, known as Bubbies.

Long past the years of diapers, homework, and recitals, Roger and Ginny—Boppo and Mimi to the kids—quickly reaccustom themselves to the world of small children: bedtime stories, talking toys, play-dates, nonstop questions, and nonsequential thought. Though reeling from Amy's death, they carry on, reconstructing a family, sustaining one another, and guiding three lively, alert, and tenderhearted children through the pains and confusions of grief. As he marvels at the strength of his son-in-law and the tenacity and skill of his wife, Roger attends each day to "the one household duty I have mastered"—preparing the morning toast perfectly to each child's liking.

Luminous, precise, and utterly unsentimental, Making Toast is both a tribute to the singular Amy and a brave exploration of the human capacity to move through and live with grief.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making Toast is a brilliant memoir! April 5 2010
I loved this book, from the opening sentence to the ending. Although the story is sad, reading the candid
account of this family's experience, surviving their devastating loss, brought a sense of peace and dignity
to the act of honouring one's loved one and moving forward with grace.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, Humorous and Witty!! Dec 31 2010
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
Thirty-eight-year-old Amy Rosenblatt Solomon dropped dead on her treadmill December 8, 2007 at 2:30 in the afternoon from an undiagnosed, asymptomatic, rare heart condition. Amy was a wife to hand surgeon Harris, a paediatrician herself and mother to three children: 7-year-old Jessica; 5-year-old Sammy; and 20-month-old James whom the family affectionally called "Bubbies."

The story is narrated by Roger Rosenblatt, Amy's father who teaches writing at the university level a couple of times a week. Roger's wife, Ginny, is a retired school teacher.

After Amy's sudden and unexpected death, Harris and Ginny leave their home unoccupied to move in and live with Harris and their grandchildren. We meet Amy's brothers, the wives, the nieces and nephews, co-workers, colleagues and a raft of other characters who knew and loved Amy. But it is Roger, Ginny, Harris and the three children that the memoir focuses on. Each of the six people deal with Amy's death in a different way which, as well know, is just how grief works. We don't all grieve in the same way or over the same length of time.

Roger and Ginny realize one day that "they" are living their daughter's life, the life with HER children and husband that SHE should have been living. Each of them discovers things about Amy that they never knew and Ginny feels badly for Jessica who will never get to enjoy those "mother and daughter moments."

Harris seems more in the background, returning to work and rather stoic, he just seemingly goes through the motions of everyday living because that's what he's supposed to do for his three motherless children.

Rosenblatt's memoir is written with clarity, honesty and is at times humorous making the book a non tear-jerking read. I believe it is Roger's humour and wit that weaves together, from the remnants of their old life, a whole new family!"
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