THE EMPTY ROOM: Surviving the Loss of a Brother or Sister at Any Age

Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, Author . Scribner $23 (229p) ISBN 978-0-7432-0151-3

In 1972, when the author was six, her nine-year-old brother, Ted, developed huge bruises all over his body. Diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare immune deficiency disease, Ted lived in a sterile hospital "bubble room" until his death eight years later. In this beautifully written account, DeVita, a science journalist, describes how Ted's life and death have affected her and, drawing on 77 interviews with others who have lost siblings, examines a subject that has largely been overlooked. DeVita considers survivors, rather than academicians or researchers, to be the real experts on this subject. Many gripping stories are told by brothers and sisters of all ages, including those who have endured the death of a twin. In order to protect their other children and deal with their own grief, many parents, like DeVita's own, did not often discuss the deaths and, in a sense, deprived the surviving siblings of the mourning process. In haunting and evocative narratives, many of those interviewed share how they finally found a way, years later, to acknowledge their terrible loss. DeVita recalls her relationship with the brother who loved and teased her, as well as his bravery during the years of isolation when almost no one touched him. "Meredith," who suddenly lost her beloved teenage brother to cancer, now runs marathons in his memory, among other coping strategies. DeVita recounts the interviews she conducted with her own parents and movingly illuminates the tragic situation of her father, an oncologist, who could not save his own son, and her mother, who found the inner strength do her best for her dying son. Agent, Angela Miller from the Miller Agency . (Aug. 10)

Reviewed on: 03/22/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 229 pages - 978-0-7432-0152-0
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4391-2521-2
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