Once More We Saw Stars
By: Jayson Greene
Published: May 14, 2019
From the Cover:
Two-year-old Greta Greene was sitting with her grandmother on a park bench on the Upper West Side of Manhattan when a brick crumbled from a windowsill overhead, striking her unconscious. She is immediately rushed to the hospital. Once More We Saw Stars begins with this event, leading the reader into the unimaginable.
But although it begins with the anguish Jayson and his wife Stacy confront in the wake of their daughter’s trauma and the hours leading up to her death, it quickly becomes a narrative that is as much about hope and healing as it is about grief and loss. Jayson recognizes, even in the very midst of his ordeal, that there will be a life for him beyond it—that if only he can continue moving forward, from one moment to the next, he will survive what seems un-survivable.
With raw honesty, deep emotion, and exquisite tenderness, he captures both the fragility of life and absoluteness of death, and most important of all, the unconquerable power of love. This is an unforgettable memoir of courage and transformation—and a book that will change the way you look at the world.
I know what you’re thinking. . . Madelyn, why on earth are you reading such a sad book? There is enough sadness and grief in many of our lives already, why would I willingly subject myself to it? Maybe when it comes to tragedies, we seek out answers: How can I prevent this from ever happening to me? How could someone survive such a trauma? How are they moving forward? However, I’ve read plenty of tragic memoirs in my past (Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, and more) and these books have been some of the most impactful books I have ever read. At their root, these books give us a glimpse into the nature of the human spirit: resilient, courageous, and strong. These books remind us that tragedies happen every day to people we will never know; although they are forever changed, they continue on.
You could divide Once More We Saw Stars into two sections: before/during Greta’s death, and after. The former is about as overwhelmingly and horrifyingly sad as you would expect. You already know what’s going to happen to Greta from the start, however, it doesn’t prepare you for the emotion that Greene uses to describe his experience of Greta’s death. However, the “after” section takes up the majority of the pages of the book. I found it to be a hauntingly beautiful meditation on life, death, grief, healing, circumstance, family, and growth.
I think what also drew me to Once More We Saw Stars is that it is written from the father’s perspective of grief. I feel so often we hear or read from the mother’s perspective of grief, but I found Jayson’s narrative to be incredibly moving as well. It was a refreshing and unique perspective that I think is often glossed over but should be valued all the same.
I understand that this book might not be for everyone. I have always enjoyed reading books that can challenge me mentally or emotionally. This book is definitely sad, there’s no doubt about it; but, it’s so much more than that. It’s about finding meaning in this one life we are given, and in the lives of those we choose to hold close to us. I hope you let this book into your heart.