Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date of publication: May 9th, 2023
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Literary Fiction, Adult, Death, Novels, Family, Adult Fiction, Literature
Trigger Warnings: Death
Mikki Brammer’s The Collected Regrets of Clover is a big-hearted and life-affirming debut about a death doula who, in caring for others at the end of their life, has forgotten how to live her own, for readers of The Midnight Library.
What’s the point of giving someone a beautiful death if you can’t give yourself a beautiful life?
From the day she watched her kindergarten teacher drop dead during a dramatic telling of Peter Rabbit, Clover Brooks has felt a stronger connection with the dying than she has with the living. After the beloved grandfather who raised her dies alone while she is traveling, Clover becomes a death doula in New York City, dedicating her life to ushering people peacefully through their end-of-life process.
Clover spends so much time with the dying that she has no life of her own, until the final wishes of a feisty old woman send Clover on a trip across the country to uncover a forgotten love story––and perhaps, her own happy ending. As she finds herself struggling to navigate the uncharted roads of romance and friendship, Clover is forced to examine what she really wants, and whether she’ll have the courage to go after it.
Probing, clever, and hopeful, The Collected Regrets of Clover turns the normally taboo subject of death into a reason to celebrate life.
The first time I watched someone die, I was five.The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer
Since her kindergarten teacher died when she was five, Clover has been fascinated with death. That fascination leads her to get a master’s degree in thanatology and then to her career as one of the only death doulas in New York City. Besides her dog, two cats, and her elderly neighbor, Leo, Clover is alone. But a chance meeting with an enigmatic man turns into a job preparing his grandmother for death makes Clover realize that there is more to life than death. With the help of a new friend and her client, Clover starts navigating the often tricky road of romance and friendship. Will Clover be able to open up to people finally? And will she have the courage to go after what she wants?
So, I will admit this; I hadn’t planned on accepting the invite for this book. I would decline it after reading the email and continuing with my life. But I wasn’t paying attention (I had a couple of emails in a row from the publisher), and I accepted it before I realized what I was doing. Since I got the invite at some point in 2022 (I am not going to look, and yes, I am lazy), I put off reading The Collected Regrets of Clover. When I saw that it was coming up on my reading schedule, I was going to put it off again and decided that enough was enough, and I would read it. Well, I am glad that I did. This book was great; I regret putting it off for so long.
The Collected Regrets of Clover’s storyline centers around Clover and her gradual realization that there is more to life than focusing on death. I have never heard of a death doula or even getting a master’s degree in thanatology before this book. I did some research after reading this book and both subjects fascinate me. But I am not here to discuss how fascinated I am by this subject. We are here to talk about the storyline. So back to the subject.
I thought The Collected Regrets of Clover’s storyline was well written and kept my attention on the book. The book does split into two storylines for a while. One storyline details Clover’s early life up to when her grandfather dies. The other is the present day which shows how lonely Clover is. The author was able to merge both storylines later in the book. Usually, I wouldn’t have liked the dual storylines, but in this case, it worked. I got to see how Clover was shaped into who she was, and I got to see how she was dealing in the present day.
For a book about death and dying, I didn’t feel that the focus was solely on that. The author did a great job keeping Clover’s issues (and her awkwardness) front and center while she tended to her client. Never, at any point in the book, did I get the feeling that this book was morbid. I thought it was a beautiful homage to dying.
I liked Clover, and I did form a connection with her. I was slightly amazed that she never had a relationship with anyone her age (which I put between 35-39). There was a point in the book where I did get an asexual vibe from her (which was fine with me), but then the author did a 180 with that. I was also amazed by how naive she was. There was only one thing that weirded me out: she constantly spied on her across-the-street neighbors. But it was explained, and she did use their relationship as a comparison. But still, it was weird.
The end of the book was thoughtful. I liked how the author wrapped up the storylines. It was respectful and very touching. I also loved seeing Clover’s growth. The Clover at the beginning of the book would have never been able to do what the Clover at the end of the book did.
I would recommend The Collected Regrets of Clover to anyone over 21. There are nongraphic sexual situations, mild violence, and language.
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Mikki Brammer for allowing me to read and review The Collected Regrets of Clover. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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