Disaster Falls

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Disaster Falls
272 pages; Crown
Gerson; his wife, Alison; and their young sons were rafting down the Green River in Utah when the unthinkable happened. Despite the guide's assurance that Disaster Falls was safe, 8-year-old Owen fell into its angry waters; hours later, a search party found his body. That first raw, heartsick night, Alison said, "It is just the three of us now. We cannot do it alone. We have to stick together." That vow became crucial in fighting the isolation of grief as the family withdrew from a well-meaning community that didn't know how to help. "A rabbi confides that he has never seen anything like it, not once in twenty years on the pulpit," Gerson says. "Friends write that losing a child is a hole without end, beyond the map of human experience." Alison escapes into her needlepoint and consults a medium, hoping to find her lost child; St├ęphane dives into his writing in an effort at comprehension. His story circles around and around the fatal day, each time with more detail, conveying the sense that the horror can only be approached elliptically, over time. Eventually, Gerson travels with his surviving son, Julian, and his elderly father to Belarus, where their family has roots. There, they follow the route where men, women and children were murdered during the Holocaust. Not long after, he attends to his father's "good death," a loss that's surprisingly healing. What starts as a probing of the deepest personal wound opens up to a profound, universal exploration of our mortality.
— Dawn Raffel