The Rules of Inheritance

The Rules of Inheritance

Claire Bidwell Smith -- an only child -- was just fourteen years old when both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. "I've already come to the conclusion that I will probably be parentless by the time I am thirty," Claire writes in her powerful debut.

As her mother begins to succumb during Claire's first year of college, Claire hurtles towards loss. She throws herself into the arms of anything she thinks might hold her up: boys, alcohol, traveling, and the anonymity of cities like New York and Los Angeles. Her every choice carries the weight of a young woman's world, and it feels like a solitary place. Words -- books, diaries, letters, family stories -- become Claire's true companions, and provide a glimpse of the future, however foreign.

In New York, she studies writing and learns the ways of the world, falling in and out of love with a troubled young man, all the while grappling not only with her own lonelieness and regret but that of her aging father. She joins him in Los Angeles as a novice journalist, and records one last thrilling entry in their nuclear family history in the fields of Eastern Europe in search of his World War II past. When it is time to say good-bye, once more the fragility of life astonishes.

Defying a conventional framework, this memoir is told in nonlinear fashion, using the five stages of grief as a window into Claire's experience, at once heartbreaking and uplifting. "Why would anyone want to walk into pain?" Claire asks. "But when I did, I found that it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would."

Each step brings her closer to finding the meaning of the rules of inheritance, and how they will shape her future -- as a woman, as a wife, as a mother. As in the very best personal writing, Claire's superbly resonant words render the personal universal.

Title:The Rules of Inheritance
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781594630880
Format Type:

    The Rules of Inheritance Reviews

  • Antigone

    I'll get brave in a bookstore. Brave in a way I won't online. Brave among strangers I consider companions; purpose-filled, pondering, unknown friends who wander, as I do, in that semi-conscious fugue ...

  • Jmom88

    I wanted to put the book down after the first chapter. Not that it was badly written or hard to read. I wanted to put it down because the pain is palpable even early on in the book. It’s like a huge...

  • Amy Armstrong

    **This review is based on a digital galley provided by the publisher via NetGalley.**The only time I regret spending on this book is the time I spent avoiding it. I added it to my NetGalley requests o...

  • Mmtimes4

    Claire Bidwell Smith -- an only child -- was just fourteen years old when both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. "I've already come to the conclusion that I will p...

  • Maria

    A really good memoir of Bidwell-Smiths process of loosing and grieving her parents. Of how we are sometimes not able to process what is happening to us, of struggling, and of how we can heal, once the...

  • Joanne  Clarke Gunter

    My rating says I "liked" this book, but I didn't like it very much. Perhaps I have read too many memoirs and have just tired of whining women. Lots of whining in this book about her boyfriend, her wor...

  • Nona

    What a beautifully told memoir of Claire’s love for her parents and the untethered feelings she had following the death of her mother. Her honesty in sharing her behavior and reaction to loss and gr...

  • Elizabeth

    The last two chapters saved the book for me. While I appreciated her laying bare the complexity and powerful nature of grief, I found her writing style formulaic and simplistic. She often repeats hers...

  • Raquel

    As the two star rating indicates, it was ok. Subject matter is heavy and my heart went out to her but eventually it felt overdone....

  • Travel Writing

    pg. 10I am silent, marveling at the power we have to unlock a person._______I marvel at this story, of such loss and pain, leaving me buoyed with hope and kindness.Claire tells her story of losing bot...