A mother's advice to her daughter--a guide to daily living, both practical and sublime--with full-color illustrations throughout.
One sleepless night while she was in her early twenties, illustrator/writer Hallie Bateman had a painful realization: Someday, her mother would be gone. The prospect was devastating, and also scary--how would she navigate the world without the person who gave her life? She thought about all the motherly advice she would miss--advice that could help her through a host of future challenges that might arise, including the ordeal of losing a parent.
The next day, Hallie asked her mother, writer Suzy Hopkins, to record step-by-step instructions for her to follow in the event of her mom's death. The list began: "Pour yourself a stiff glass of whiskey and make some fajitas" and continued from there, walking Hallie through the days, months, and years of life after loss, with motherly guidance and support, addressing issues great and small--from choosing a life partner to baking a quiche. The project became a way for mother and daughter to discuss the everyday realities of grief, and to do so honestly, with humor, openness, and gratitude. It led to a book they hope will help other families have similar conversations.
What to Do When I'm Gone is the illustrated instruction manual for getting through life without one's mom, combining Suzy's pithy and heartfelt advice with Hallie's quirky and colorful visual style. It's also a poignant look at loss and mourning, love and relationships, and getting through the phases of life one moment at a time, up to and including the end. This sounds heavy, but humor and great recipes ease the pain. By turns whimsical, funny, and touching, and above all pragmatic, it will leave readers laughing and teary-eyed. And it will spur conversations that enrich family members' understanding of one another.
Hallie Bateman and her mother have created a funny, beautiful guidebook . . . that's simultaneously deeply personal and super universal in that it chisels to the core of how complicated and wonderful mother-daughter relationships are. * Los Angeles Magazine *
The very concept of this book--Hopkins' day-by-day breakdown of what Bateman should do when she's gone--immediately made me emotional, but the book itself is surprisingly hopeful, and a reminder that there's life again even after unimaginable loss. * Shondaland "New Books You'll Want to Read This April" *
A true collaboration . . . Readers may expect that this mother-daughter exercise is heartfelt but will probably be surprised by how thorough it is in its thoughtful treatment of how to handle one's own life and death in addition to the loss of a loved one. * Booklist *
The advice is always warm and often wise, accompanied by illustrations that often reflect a playfulness reminiscent of Roz Chast. This isn't a morbid book, nor a particularly dark one, but a book about facing the inevitable with grace and good humor. * Kirkus *
Full of the kind of counsel that will have readers longing to call their own mother, the book additionally features recipes that, while lacking in precision, exemplify Hopkins's charming, loving voice. * Library Journal *
An exceptional self-help guide . . . Their graphic memoir is filled with plenty of heartfelt wisdom and edgy humor reminiscent of Roz Chast's Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? . . . What can you do to help someone who's recently lost a mom? Give them a copy of What to Do When I'm Gone. * BookPage *
A heartfelt illustrated manual to navigating the grieving process. Written from the perspective of the deceased, and told through punchy language and moving illustrations, What to Do When I'm Gone feels less like a self-help book and more like your deceased loved one taking your hand as you move from one stage of grief to the next. The result is a thoughtful, engaging work that serves as a guidebook, a comfort, and a reminder of a mother's love. It's funny, too. * The Gazette *
A gorgeous, practical, loving and lovely book. -- Caroline Leavitt
Taking something as monumental as grief and loss and making it handleable, even for a small bit of time, is no small achievement. And this book achieves just that with humor and honesty and recipes. All critical for persevering. -- Maira Kalman
Brimming with beautiful illustrations and hilarious, touching prose, this book is perfect for every mother and daughter and anyone who will someday lose someone they love, which is to say, everyone. I laughed and cried then immediately called my own mother and asked her to tell me everything now, before it's too late. -- Wendy MacNaughton
Beautiful, heart-wrenching, funny. I'll keep this book close till the day I need it--and pass it to my son for the day he will. -- Ally Sheedy