Music I No Longer Heard

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In A MUSIC I NO LONGER HEARD: THE EARLY DEATH OF A PARENT, Leslie Simon and Jan Johnson Drantell explore the impact of the early death of a parent on the child it leaves behind. Based on interviews with seventy people, including everyone from the authors’ close relations to famous poets and filmmakers, the book attempts to examine childhood bereavement and its effects on adults from the perspective of the people who experienced the loss.

A MUSIC I NO LONGER HEARD is arranged in chapters which explore the various stages of the grieving process: “The Way It Was” includes reflections on life before the parent died; “Ground Zero” looks at how children felt at the moment they learned of their parents’ death; “The First Year” and other chapters explore the ways that the early death of a parent can reverberate throughout one’s lifetime. Each chapter includes a brief introduction and context in which to read the collection of first-hand personal narratives that follow. Chapter by chapter, the reader is able to piece together the complete histories of the seventy individuals interviewed for the book. By juxtaposing the narrative accounts within each chapter, the authors have also enabled the reader to pull out common threads of experience—worrying about family, empathy for others, early independence, high achievement—among those who suffered an early loss.

Simon and Drantell, each of whom lost a parent while young, offer “light coaching” and friendly encouragement to the reader in between the first-hand narratives. The authors’ expressed hope is that A MUSIC I NO LONGER HEARD will be able to serve as a resource for people who have lost their parents at a young age. And indeed, the narrative structure of the book does serve to create a kind of virtual support group for those seeking to understand how their parent’s death has effected them. But the sampling of human experience included in the book and the inherent conflict and drama in the book’s subject make the text fascinating to any student of human nature.