The Shared Room by Kao Kalia Yang

The Shared Room is a book about loss, grief and how to bear and cope with the continual movement of life after the demise of someone you love. The collection is about a small family of five living in the east side of St. Paul, and the tragic drowning and loss of one of its children, a girl. Yang is vivid in her scenes and pictures with an expression that is sensitive to sensory experiences and emotions. The collection opens the event of death and loss with simplicity and deals with the discussion of loss that the family feels with authenticity. The book is accessible even to the youngest readers and is successful in its expression of loss for both the parents and the young children of the family. It doesn’t pretend to have answers and gives evocative sketches of the family living after the loss with moving illustrations from Xee Reiter. The concise text of the collection makes it effortless to experience and read, while portraying the heavy aspects of how differently the loss is encountered by the parents and the children who ask questions about their sister’s return and struggle to understand what death means. With this collection, Yang strengthens the idea that when grief hits a family, sometimes a story is the best way to open the dialogue. —Anza Malik

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