By Kate Klise
Feiwel and Friends, 2010. 196 pages. Fiction.
Daralynn Oakland is alive because she was grounded. She lied to her mom about sneaking down to the fishing hole, so she wasn't allowed to fly away on vacation with her dad, sister, and brother. Tragically, these three die in a plane crash. Left alone with her one child and no husband, Daralynn's mother flounders in a numb depression. After she prepares her family for burial, Mrs. Oakland discovers she has a knack for hairstyling and eventually buys her own salon. Daralynn also comes up with the idea to start a "living funeral" business, where people can have their lives celebrated and actually be there to witness it. Through this, she begins to heal, as well as by writing a journal of letters to her deceased family. There is a mystery story woven in, as a stranger to their small town starts a high-priced cremation business and scams the townspeople out of a lot of money.
There are some funny moments to lighten the reading experience. I especially enjoyed vicariously attending some of the living funerals- hysterical! I think this is a genius idea. Aside from the small moments of humor, Kate Klise handles the child's view of loss beautifully. Here is an author who understands children and grief, and writes well about characters going through the healing process. I believe the time period is in the late 70s because of some cultural references, but it is not stated outright. Best for 4th grade and up for thematic elements. For a more lighthearted but still topical read, check out Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles.