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Surviving Ben’s Suicide, C. Comfort Shields – review and giveaway

When she was in college, Comfort Shields met another student named Ben, a man who’d been in the navy and only returned to school at age 24.  They began a relationship and fell in love.  Eighteen months later, Ben killed himself.  This memoir details their relationship alongside Comfort’s struggle to survive herself, to grow and learn from the experience, and forgive herself, with which she still struggles.

I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book when I heard about it.  My brother passed away when I was nineteen, and I avoid the subject of death far more than the average person my age.  It’s still too close to me.  I took a chance, and I’m glad I did.  Comfort’s struggle is oddly empowering for her and for the reader, whom she has chosen to allow into her world.  This beautiful memoir succeeds as both a story of her grief and her recovery and as a tribute to Ben, who struggled so much himself.  Shields writes well and clearly, telling us her story in a way that makes her sympathetic while making it clear that she doesn’t expect any.  Despite the difficult subject, the book isn’t hard at all to read and is in fact engrossing.  Her struggle and the situation is clearly sad, but it is focused on the positive, not the negative.  It is a book full of hope and memories.

The reader watches as the relationship between Ben and Comfort is strained by his mental illness, even though they so obviously love each other and she tries so hard to keep them together.  The parts when they were falling in love were extremely touching, knowing the outcome of the relationship, experiencing this dual journey.

I found the most poignant and important lesson that Comfort learned is that she could not control the life of anyone else.  She could not have saved Ben; it was out of her hands and she did the best she could.  She discovers this over and over again throughout the course of her life, and not only is it true for her, it’s true for us all.  Her journey is inspiring and I can imagine it giving hope and help to not only people whose loved ones have killed themselves, but to anyone who has lost someone and does not know where to go next.

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I have one copy of Surviving Ben’s Suicide to give away.  It’s a bit of a strange book to get excited about a contest for, considering the subject matter, but this book is so wonderful and touching that I want to spread it around and get it known!  There are only two copies of this book on LibraryThing, and there should be many more.  This book could be so helpful, and people are missing out.  Help me share Comfort’s story, and the memory of Ben, with the world.

So.  It’s easy to be entered.  All you have to do is leave a comment here.  If you post about this on your blog, I’ll give you an extra entry. This is actually my first giveaway, so please, enter away!  You have until Sunday, July 13th to enter, and I will mail the book on Monday, July 14th.  Good luck!

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