Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst

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Necessary Losses

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Best known for her children’s books and her often-witty monthly column in REDBOOK magazine, Viorst tackles with laudable sensitivity the subject of the losses we must survive in order to become mature, whole beings. She examines each stage of life and the accompanying necessary losses, from the original loss of the mother-child connection to the final loss which represents the finiteness of man’s existence, death. Drawing on psychoanalytic theory, literature, and personal experience, Viorst shows how we must let “go of our fearful and childish black-and-white simplifications for the difficult ambiguities of real life.”

There is something for every reader in this book. Perhaps it will be the section dealing with the relatively unimportant loss of youthful beauty that is part of a mid-life crisis, or it may be the section which addresses unrealistic expectations in marital relationships and the disappointments which arise because our partner does not fill all our emptiness. The final section on aging and death, when we struggle with the conflict between being preoccupied with our bodies and trying to transcend them in some desperate search for a kind of immortality, may speak especially poignantly to the reader.

NECESSARY LOSSES is enlivened by numerous flashes of the excellent Viorst wit, but it is not a book to be taken lightly or read hurriedly. It speaks profoundly to the concept of loss and of our lifelong challenge to learn how necessary losses are also linked to the gains that make the struggle worthwhile.