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Extended Audio Sample The Rules of Inheritance: A Memoir, by Claire Bidwell Smith Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (588 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Claire Bidwell Smith Narrator: Claire Bidwell Smit Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The Rules of Inheritance is a resonant memoir of the ways untimely good-byes echo through the years by a writer who has considered every nuance of grief.

At age fourteen, Claire Bidwell Smith—an only child—learns that both of her parents have cancer. The fear of becoming a family of one before she came of age compels Claire to make a series of fraught choices, set against the glittering backdrop of New York and Los Angeles—and the pall of regret. When the inevitable happens, and Claire is alone in the world, she is inconsolable at the revelation that suddenly she is no one’s special person. It is only when Claire eventually falls in love, marries, and becomes a mother that she emerges from the fog of grief.

Defying a conventional framework, this story is told using the five stages of grief as a window into Smith’s experience. As in the very best memoirs, the author’s powerful and exquisite writing renders personal events into universal experience.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Forget everything you think you know about grief. Smith’s memoir is the most honest book I've ever read about how loss unmoors, challenges and changes you, written in prose so exquisite it could be poetry. Dazzlingly brave and absolutely true.”

    Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

  • “This beautiful memoir is about what we inherit—the love as well as the sorrow and loss that are an inevitable part of human connection. In lucid, unsentimental prose, Claire Bidwell Smith maps out the story of her abrupt and rocky coming-of-age with just the right amount of intimacy and distance. This book will stay with me.”

    Dani Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author

  • “In The Rules of Inheritance, Claire Bidwell Smith takes us on a heartbreaking journey into grief’s deepest waters and then shows us how she found her way back to hope’s shores. With courageous vulnerability and uncompromising authenticity, Smith demonstrates how she transformed tragic misfortune into a rite of passage.”

    Jillian Lauren, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem 

  • “A powerful, moving memoir of overcoming grief and loss.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “In this deeply reflective, anguished memoir, LA journalist and psychotherapist Smith revisits the staggered death of her two parents from cancer as steps in the process of grieving.Smith’s prose possesses a blistering power, rendering this youthful memoir an affecting journey into loss.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Gritty, poetic, and illuminating.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “A searingly honest, poignant and poetic chronicle of love and loss, examining what it feels like to be ‘nobody’s most important person.’”

    Susan Shapiro, author of Lighting Up and Five Men Who Broke My Heart  

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Marianne | 2/18/2014

    " I came across this memoir at the library and picked it up on a whim. I must have read it in less than two days because it was written so fluidly and well. It is modeled after the five stages of grief - the most powerful aspect about this book is that she holds nothing back as she comes to terms with her parents' untimely deaths in her own way, own time. It begins with the end, set against the nuances of growing up with aging and sick parents. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Denise | 2/8/2014

    " It's truly been painful to read this book. The writing is excellent but her pain is so palpable that I can't help but have mini breakdowns as I read. As an only child as well i can only imagine and fear that loneliness she so vividly describes. Brutiful book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Joselyn Lundy | 2/5/2014

    " Bravely beautiful! Without a doubt, it seduces one into being more honest and vulnerable and conjures up grit from your inner woman. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Janssen | 2/2/2014

    " I actively disliked the first 2/3rds of this book. And then the end somehow redeemed it for me. It is very sad and dark for the most part, but really ends on a happy note. Mixed feelings. . .. "

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