Once More We Saw Stars is a story no one wants to tell, one of a two-year-old daughter’s death and how her parents try to move in the world after their world—their daughter—has died. While it is, in the end, hopeful and filled with love, the journey this book takes the reader on is one of genuine, visceral loss: there’s anguish, anger, fighting, and desperation.
This story is painful, to say the least, and it’s not something I can comment on. As Greene writes in the part about going to grief counseling: no one else gets it. No one else can. I can read his story and weep for his loss and feel compassion for his family; but I cannot know what it is like to be him. To "rate" a book about an experience like this seems callous, at best--and it's not something I'm willing to do. In that same section, about grief counseling, Greene relays an argument with the moderator of the group he and his wife are attending. He asks her if she's rating one family's loss as "greater" than another's. I almost feel as if, while reviewing or offering thoughts on books that share painful stories, we sometimes do the same. This book is good because it's a story that needs to be told--but to rate it? I'm not sure about that.
Still, like every book, there’s more to a memoir than the "what happened" aspect of the story: there’s the craft of writing, and that’s the part I feel that I can offer an opinion on. This is where my rating comes from--and I hope those of you reading this realize that the rating I've given are for the writing, not the story (and because this system only allows full ratings, I've rated it at 3, but wanted to rate it 3.5). I found Once More We Saw Stars to be imminently readable. It’s uncomfortable but not so much so that I have to turn away; it’s poignant enough in several spots to make me cry, but not overwrought. I marked a passage or two that, to me, were beautifully written. But I don’t find this book to be remarkable because of its writing; I find it remarkable because as a parent, I cannot imagine having the presence of mind to remember such details and to then share them with such detail after having endured such an unspeakable loss.