Author Claire Bidwell Smith is an only child, born to parents who were 40 and 57 at the time of her birth. At age 14, in the span of a few months, Claire learns that both her mother and father have been diagnosed with cancer. In the excerpt, from the inside cover, Claire writes "I've already come to the conclusion that I will probably be parentless by the time I am thirty."
In The Rules of Inheritance, Claire details her journey from the initial cancer diagnosis, through her mother's death while she is in college, then through her father's as well, running through the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).
What I found interesting is that the novel is told in non-sequential excerpts from her life story rather than chronological order from diagnosis to the present. But it's this order, her memories tied to those stages that make her story so touching. It's not a sequence of treatments and events, but her thoughts, reactions, and even how those events shaped her life years after they happened. Despite the sadness of it all, it's a book that is hard to put down.
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