I think many of us know the feeling of living in the shadow of a death, realizing how alone we all become in grief. My own brother died when I was a child and I learned independence young. Grief took each of my family members in different directions. I was too young to know what was going on, but I certainly felt it, both in an immediate and permanent sense. And I know that everybody was doing the best they could. Blame is impossible in situations of shared loss.
Goldengrove tells the story of loss tearing a family apart, defining them forever and teaching one young girl that - even though she's not alone - there are some things that she cannot rely on other people for. It also explores how identity is confused by loss, as both the identities of those lost and those left grieving changes, both in reality and perception.
The NYT reviewer Leah Hager Cohen writes "Near the end, Nico says, “If I’d learned anything that summer, it was how essential it was to hold on to the here and now.” I couldn’t help thinking that Margaret would have wanted her to find something odder, more unwieldy, less pat." But, I wonder how many of us walk away from grief with observations that aren't pat? And I think it's at those moments of emergence from grief and loss that all those pat tautologies suddenly seem like revelations.