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Bereft: A Sister's Story

Bereft: A Sister's Story - Jane Bernstein Jane Bernstein's sister Laura was murdered when she was at college in Sept. 1966 in Arizona. Jane was a few years younger than her and lived at home with her parents. There were no other siblings. The family tries to absorb the shock quickly and then move on as if nothing has happened. Jane is writing about her experience years later as an adult (copyright 2000). As a result of the family's approach to Laura's murder, Jane's feelings about her sister and her murder are greatly repressed and affect her in lots of ways. The story covers much of Jane's life and at times seems to wander from her relationship with her sister. I understand her point -- her entire life is different than it would have been if her sister lived. However, the book does seem self-indulgent at times and feels like it should have been edited better. Jane is a writer, a writing professor, and talks a lot about how writing this story is blocked, just as her feelings are blocked. However, I don't feel it is successful and found Jane's other book (Rachel in the World, about her developmentally disabled daughter growing to adulthood) much more engaging. Still, there is plenty for siblings to identify with in this book. p. 11 "For years I was convinced that I did not miss my sister after she was murdered or feel what all the condolence cards so delicately referred to as our "loss." When I remembered this time, it seemed that after Laura died, I move on with little fuss, just as I had been advised."p.206 "I was sad that my mother had never been able to mourn Laura's loss, that she could not hold my newborn daughter in her arms, and, for a long time, could not allow herself to love another child -- certainly not another girl. I was to see the way she drew away from those around her, people who did not know how to comfort her, in part because she would not let them try. I could see things clearly because of the ways I was like her, and because it was easier to be wise about someone other than oneself."p. 224 -- testifying at a victim's impact hearing: "I miss my sister, I said.I had never said that before.All this time had passed, and I still missed her. I missed growing up with her. I missed seeing her marry Howard, have children, become an adult. I missed the fact of having a sister. But for my parents, it was much worse. It was only when I became a parent myself that I came to understand the depth of their loss. They lost their baby. They lost their benevolent view of life."Jane becomes a detective of sorts and becomes involved in parole hearings for the murderer, who ultimately kills himself in prison after being denied parole. Jane has very mixed feelings about this. She chronicles the start of victim's / survivor's rights and interviews the law enforcement officers involved with the case over the years. She chronicles much of her adult life, and how she believes this murder stunts her. Her difficult marriage, her relationships with her daughters. The eventual breakup of her marriage and in the end, a promising relationship. As she works through her feelings about her sister, she becomes more whole emotionally, and better able to cope with these difficult situations.Still, she's not the most likable character and there is a reserve throughout. I think some of it is related to the time in which her sister's murder took place, and how murder and grieving were handled then. So I try to account for this and warm up to her, but it is still hard.