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Sorry For Your Loss

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Printz Honor winner and William Morris Award finalist Jessie Ann Foley’s latest YA novel is a comitragic coming-of-age story about an awkward teenage guy who, after the loss of his brother, finds healing and a sense of self where he least expected to. As the youngest of eight, painfully average Pup Flanagan is used to flying under the radar. He’s barely passing his classes. Printz Honor winner and William Morris Award finalist Jessie Ann Foley’s latest YA novel is a comitragic coming-of-age story about an awkward teenage guy who, after the loss of his brother, finds healing and a sense of self where he least expected to. As the youngest of eight, painfully average Pup Flanagan is used to flying under the radar. He’s barely passing his classes. He lets his longtime crush walk all over him. And he’s in no hurry to decide on a college path. The only person who ever made him think he could be more was his older brother Patrick, the family’s golden child. But that was before Patrick died suddenly, leaving Pup with a family who won’t talk about it and acquaintances who just keep saying, “sorry for your loss.” But when Pup excels at a photography assignment he thought he’d bomb, things start to come into focus. His dream girl shows her true colors. An unexpected friend exposes Pup to a whole new world, right under his nose. And the photograph that was supposed to show Pup a way out of his grief ultimately reveals someone else who is still stuck in their own. Someone with a secret regret Pup never could have imagined.


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Printz Honor winner and William Morris Award finalist Jessie Ann Foley’s latest YA novel is a comitragic coming-of-age story about an awkward teenage guy who, after the loss of his brother, finds healing and a sense of self where he least expected to. As the youngest of eight, painfully average Pup Flanagan is used to flying under the radar. He’s barely passing his classes. Printz Honor winner and William Morris Award finalist Jessie Ann Foley’s latest YA novel is a comitragic coming-of-age story about an awkward teenage guy who, after the loss of his brother, finds healing and a sense of self where he least expected to. As the youngest of eight, painfully average Pup Flanagan is used to flying under the radar. He’s barely passing his classes. He lets his longtime crush walk all over him. And he’s in no hurry to decide on a college path. The only person who ever made him think he could be more was his older brother Patrick, the family’s golden child. But that was before Patrick died suddenly, leaving Pup with a family who won’t talk about it and acquaintances who just keep saying, “sorry for your loss.” But when Pup excels at a photography assignment he thought he’d bomb, things start to come into focus. His dream girl shows her true colors. An unexpected friend exposes Pup to a whole new world, right under his nose. And the photograph that was supposed to show Pup a way out of his grief ultimately reveals someone else who is still stuck in their own. Someone with a secret regret Pup never could have imagined.

30 review for Sorry For Your Loss

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    The inspiration for this book came partially from a piece I read about Leonard Cohen's final press conference before his death in 2016. When asked by a reporter about where he drew his inspiration from, Cohen gave this beautiful answer about how we create art as a way of articulating the emergency inside of us. I have been in love with that notion ever since. I decided that I wanted my main character, Pup, to be a kid who is experiencing a serious emergency inside of himself, and who, because of The inspiration for this book came partially from a piece I read about Leonard Cohen's final press conference before his death in 2016. When asked by a reporter about where he drew his inspiration from, Cohen gave this beautiful answer about how we create art as a way of articulating the emergency inside of us. I have been in love with that notion ever since. I decided that I wanted my main character, Pup, to be a kid who is experiencing a serious emergency inside of himself, and who, because of who he is and the kind of family he comes from, has no way of articulating it. I wanted his discovery of photography to arrive like a life raft. I wanted him to fall in love with art, and in doing so, find a way to articulate his emergency and help him begin to heal. Thank you so much for picking up this book and giving it a chance! xo JAF

  2. 5 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    Wow! All I have to say is Sorry For Your Loss was such an exquisite portrait of a family caught in the throes of grief. The emotions, at times, were so palpable, I actually found myself rubbing my chest, because my heart physically ached. Pup, my dear sweet Pup. As the youngest of the Flanagan clan, he was often overlooked. You had the sister moms, his older sisters, who were so much older than him, they never even lived under the same roof. And, then there was the second wave of kids - Annemarie, Wow! All I have to say is Sorry For Your Loss was such an exquisite portrait of a family caught in the throes of grief. The emotions, at times, were so palpable, I actually found myself rubbing my chest, because my heart physically ached. Pup, my dear sweet Pup. As the youngest of the Flanagan clan, he was often overlooked. You had the sister moms, his older sisters, who were so much older than him, they never even lived under the same roof. And, then there was the second wave of kids - Annemarie, Patrick, and Luke. Though Pup enjoyed a closer bond with his three younger siblings, there was only one, who really saw him - Patrick, which was why Patrick's death was such a profound loss for him. Pup was floundering in his grief, and continuing to let all these people in his life sort of treat him as an after thought. But, then he got a little nudge, and that push Pup needed came from an unlikely source. After almost a year of trying different artistic mediums, Pup's teacher put a camera in his hands, and Pup was able to finally find his voice. It was really wonderful the way he was able to see things and share his feelings and pain via his art. I loved that this was part of his story for many reasons. One, because I really wanted Pup to find his thing. Two, because the drama with his unrequited love was awful, and he needed something to feel good about. Three, because it brought Abrihet into his life, and she was phenomenal for him. This was definitely the story of Pup's coming of age, but it was also about family. The Flanagans were stuck in their grief. Some seemed ok, but many were suffering and dealing with the loss in unhealthy ways. It was Pup, with his newfound voice, who pushed the family to take those steps towards "getting through". Some of the things he was forced to do were excruciating, but necessary. His family may have been very avoidant, but the one thing they didn't lack was love for each other, and there was a lot of warmth in this story because of it. I was so touched and impressed by this book, I immediately went to the library to check out more books by Foley. She did such a beautiful job painting these characters and crafting their story, and I know I am grateful to have had the opportunity to take this journey with Pup and his family. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gillian French

    Jessie Ann Foley blew me away with this story--truly, the warmth, humor, and sincerity will enfold you like a much-needed hug, and baby, does it FLOW. The narrative is so friendly and inclusive that you literally can't put it down until you've made sure that all of your beloved Flanagan clan are going to be okay in the end. Right from Chapter 1, Pup Flanagan had my love forever; he is such a real teenage boy, gangly legs and all, so earnest and bursting with untapped potential. This is the kind Jessie Ann Foley blew me away with this story--truly, the warmth, humor, and sincerity will enfold you like a much-needed hug, and baby, does it FLOW. The narrative is so friendly and inclusive that you literally can't put it down until you've made sure that all of your beloved Flanagan clan are going to be okay in the end. Right from Chapter 1, Pup Flanagan had my love forever; he is such a real teenage boy, gangly legs and all, so earnest and bursting with untapped potential. This is the kind of book which should be taught in schools, advertised in all major publications and news outlets, and pushed hard by the publisher to get it into the hands of every reader, because it makes you want to be a better person. To face the world with an open heart and mind, to forgive your loved ones for not being perfect and sometimes failing you. I just finished the last page, and now I'm crying again, so I'll sign off--but do yourself a favor and read this one. Then share it with everybody you know.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A straightforward story that touches on undealt with grief and loss. I love how therapy plays such a crucial part of the story and how many teen boy tropes are expertly navigated. Plus, I appreciated how art was used as a tool of healing. Some moments I struggled to connect with, which is why this wasn't a total homerun for me. But I absolutely enjoyed this story overall.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    “Find a way to articulate the emergency inside you”—Mr. Hughes “So, this is just a part of my nature, and I think everybody else’s nature, to offer oneself at the critical moment when the emergency becomes articulate. It’s only when the emergency becomes articulate that we can locate that willingness to serve”—Leonard Cohen “As we descend into the deep, the pressure increases relentlessly, and the light from above all but disappears. And yet there is life”—David Attenborough, Blue Planet II (the w “Find a way to articulate the emergency inside you”—Mr. Hughes “So, this is just a part of my nature, and I think everybody else’s nature, to offer oneself at the critical moment when the emergency becomes articulate. It’s only when the emergency becomes articulate that we can locate that willingness to serve”—Leonard Cohen “As we descend into the deep, the pressure increases relentlessly, and the light from above all but disappears. And yet there is life”—David Attenborough, Blue Planet II (the wonderful epigraph for Sorry for Your Loss) “Sorry for your loss” is the kind of the thing that most of us say when we don’t know what else to say to others facing the death of someone close. Saying “sorry for your loss” isn’t necessarily a bad thing to say (though I am going to try to avoid saying it for a while if I can!), but it can be a replacement for actually speaking to someone more directly in order to actually help them to heal. One of eight Flanagan children from an Irish Catholic upper north side Chicago family, Patrick wanted to be an oceanographer, exploring the abyssopelagic zones of the world’s oceans, but he died of meningitis while away at college. Grief, as Foley points, is an individual process; it always does some damage, but people handle it in different ways: They try to deny it, to erase the fact of the pain; they never move on; they drink. Each member of the Flanagan family handles the griefless than usefully. The main character of this story is the youngest child, James, also known as Pup; what part does Patrick’s death play in how poorly he performs in school, and what part of it is test anxiety or some related disability? James meets Izzy who has also lost a brother, in their high school Bereavement Group (or Pity Party), working with a school counselor. In his grief, sensing a connection, he attaches himself to her, and she in some ways to him, but when he falls in love with her, she does not fall in love with him. He is basically flunking out of school, but when his drunken brother Luke is falling apart, he takes a photograph of him passed out. He’s committed to saving Luke, and changing his family to become more open and supportive of each other. Art teacher Mr. Hughes helps him see the value of art in the role of healing. This reminds me of the art-as-healing in other YA books such as Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson or Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. In the process he meets Abrihet (She who brings light), and they connect. I like some of the references in the book to Madame Bovary which help us understand the Izzy-Abrihet contrast. I loved, loved, loved the connections to Leonard Cohen and the phrase “articulate the emergency inside you.” This is what James learns to do, and what he tries to help Luke and the rest of his family do. A great YA book about grief. Jessie Ann attended one of my classes recently and shared that the first draft of the book was a comedy of sorts about a boy with test anxiety, an issue she was familiar with as a former high school English teacher. One strength of this wonderful book is that (ala Hemingway’s iceberg theory of meaning) the basic foundation of this book is actually comedy, not tragedy, as there are a lot of funny lines and a commitment to family to better prepare us for dealing head-on with the grief. I also loved (also making me think of Schmidt's Okay for Now) that the book is organized into seven sections, each focused on seven elements of artistic composition: Shape, like, space, form, texture, value and color. As with the idea of "depth"—oceanic and emotional—that frames the story of "Flanland" in the epigraph and throughout, these elements require you to rethink the action in each section in terms of its corresponding element. Cool?! Full disclosure: Jessie Ann was a student in my English education program several years ago, though she was never in one of my classes. She has since visited my classes multiple times as an author. I have given what I believe to be fair reviews now of all three of her books, all of which are set in Chicago, including Neighborhood Girls and The Carnival at Bray (which is also set in Bray, Ireland). The September 2019 visit was a special occasion for me in that the visit coincided with two other graduates of my program, Sarah Donovan (Alone Together) and Claudia Martinez (The Smell of Old Lady Perfume).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    Printz Honor winner Jessie Ann Foley's newest novel Sorry for Your Loss might turn some readers away with its heavy title, but I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for realistic insight into the teen experience. Foley introduces her readers to Pup Flanagan, an extremely relatable protagonist who is not, at first sight, exceptional in any way. His grades are regrettable, his plans for the future are nonexistent and his life experiences do not go far beyond the boundaries of his extensi Printz Honor winner Jessie Ann Foley's newest novel Sorry for Your Loss might turn some readers away with its heavy title, but I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for realistic insight into the teen experience. Foley introduces her readers to Pup Flanagan, an extremely relatable protagonist who is not, at first sight, exceptional in any way. His grades are regrettable, his plans for the future are nonexistent and his life experiences do not go far beyond the boundaries of his extensive Irish-Catholic family. His mind finds it difficult to focus on anything besides the Chicago Cubs, his out-of-his-league friend, Izzy, and his recently deceased older brother, Patrick. Patrick's death rocked Pup's family to their core, but they never talk about his passing. Pup's only outlet for discussing Patrick is his bereavement group at school which he refers to as the "Pity Party," but that all changes when his talented classmate, Abrihet, agrees to help Pup with his photography assignment which will determine whether or not he fails his art class. An extensive photography project just might be the means by which Pup feels closer to Patrick, but his family still struggles in their own unique ways. Pup is determined to bring Patrick back into focus which he believes is the only way to heal their broken family. Foley's uplifting and inspiring novel includes mature teen topics and will appeal to readers who enjoyed City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson, What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum and Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. – Christina B.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    Gritty and deeply emotional, Sorry For Your Loss is, unsurprisingly, about grief. But it’s also about love, brothers, big drive-you-crazy families, finding your voice and learning to remember while also letting go. With an honest and realistic teen male protagonist, Sorry For Your Loss will appeal to older teen readers who enjoy moving books. Pup is the youngest of eight. His family has been floundering, silently, since the death of one of his older brothers. Parents and siblings who won’t speak Gritty and deeply emotional, Sorry For Your Loss is, unsurprisingly, about grief. But it’s also about love, brothers, big drive-you-crazy families, finding your voice and learning to remember while also letting go. With an honest and realistic teen male protagonist, Sorry For Your Loss will appeal to older teen readers who enjoy moving books. Pup is the youngest of eight. His family has been floundering, silently, since the death of one of his older brothers. Parents and siblings who won’t speak about Patrick, a brother who is losing himself to alcohol and Pup himself who is sinking - in his classes, his relationships and in the deafening silence at home. When his art teacher hands him a camera in the desperate hopes he can redeem his failing art grade, Pup is presented with a whole new lens with which to view the world, and maybe even the chance to bring his family together again. I really loved Pup. The youngest of eight, plus uncle many times over, he knows the chaos of a big family. He also knows his place. But as he witnesses the decline of his family through grief and struggles with his own sadness, Pup has to challenge what he thought he knew about his parents, siblings and even himself. Pup has such a realistic and down-to-earth voice. He narrates the story and readers are welcomed into his world. He is 100% teen guy, but also one of those awkward, nice ones who doesn’t quite fit into his body and certainly hasn’t worked out how to talk to girls or why they would want to talk to him. Relationships, school, family - Pup is facing it all, from old friendships and stagnant crushes coming to an end to the blossoming of a new romance, and reconciliation and understanding his siblings. And maybe even passing art. Sorry For Your Loss is a wonderful YA title that explores grief, family and finding your place. It will appeal to readers of all genders with its honest and raw narration, diverse characters and heartwarming story. The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own. Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelli Cross

    Actual Rating: 4.25 This book hurt a little. Hurt a lot? Grief is this crazy, tricky beast. It’s different for everyone, and when you’re in the midst of it, it’s easy to start judging the way everyone around you is handling it. “They’re moving on too quickly. They’re not even acknowledging it. They’re letting it consume them too much.” You find yourself weighing how the loss affected you against how it’s affected others. Pup has a huge family, and all of them are handling the loss of his brother Actual Rating: 4.25 This book hurt a little. Hurt a lot? Grief is this crazy, tricky beast. It’s different for everyone, and when you’re in the midst of it, it’s easy to start judging the way everyone around you is handling it. “They’re moving on too quickly. They’re not even acknowledging it. They’re letting it consume them too much.” You find yourself weighing how the loss affected you against how it’s affected others. Pup has a huge family, and all of them are handling the loss of his brother Patrick, in different ways. And this book did an excellent job of capturing that. There’s also an extended metaphor for grief at the end of the book that is just so, so perfect in a lot of ways and I was very tempted to just quote that as my entire review but I only have access to the ARC version right now as I’m writing this, so you’ll just have to trust me that it is a perfect payoff in an already beautiful done book. T/W: alcoholism. The synopsis didn’t prepare me for it, so heads up that it’s a big part of the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Welch

    4.5 stars. I seem to be picking up quite a few books this summer with themes of grief and forgiveness. Foley does an excellent job of portraying the impact grief has on individuals as well as family units. I loved watching this family grow as individuals as well as a unit throughout the novel. And......I am always a sucker for books set in Chicago that really embrace the city and its traditions. This is an excellent book that I highly recommend!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    I loved this book. Not only because it was set in Chicago and I adored the references to the Cubs winning the WS and also the players that I love, but also the U of I references and part of the setting in Champaign. However, it was the family dynamics that got me and pulled on my heart strings. A quick read and i will definitely check out others by this local author.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Hernandez

    Jessie Ann Foley has managed to slide herself into my “I’ll read anything you write” category!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hindooh

    "Pup thought about Luke’s suffering cry, how it had set Pup’s hair standing on end, and made him love his brother the most he had ever loved him at the exact moment he was hating him more than he’d ever hated anyone." the book had potential but something was just lacking there, but i enjoyed it nonetheless. “Does he hate me?” Pup squinted down into his eggs, bracing himself for her answer. “No, Pup. He doesn’t hate you.” Sal’s voice faltered for just a moment as she reached across the table to gra "Pup thought about Luke’s suffering cry, how it had set Pup’s hair standing on end, and made him love his brother the most he had ever loved him at the exact moment he was hating him more than he’d ever hated anyone." the book had potential but something was just lacking there, but i enjoyed it nonetheless. “Does he hate me?” Pup squinted down into his eggs, bracing himself for her answer. “No, Pup. He doesn’t hate you.” Sal’s voice faltered for just a moment as she reached across the table to grab his hand. “If anything, he loves you best of all.” you best believe i cried

  13. 5 out of 5

    grieshaber.reads

    Sorry for Your Loss is Pup’s coming of age story. Every bildungsroman features a character that faces challenges, but Pup suffers more challenges than most. This poor guy is trying to discover himself while being the oops baby in the very large, working middle class, suburban Chicago Flanagan family. As the youngest of eight siblings (seven years separate him from his next youngest sibling), Pup has always felt loved but under the radar. The entire, huge family (the sibs, the sibs-in-law, the ne Sorry for Your Loss is Pup’s coming of age story. Every bildungsroman features a character that faces challenges, but Pup suffers more challenges than most. This poor guy is trying to discover himself while being the oops baby in the very large, working middle class, suburban Chicago Flanagan family. As the youngest of eight siblings (seven years separate him from his next youngest sibling), Pup has always felt loved but under the radar. The entire, huge family (the sibs, the sibs-in-law, the nephews and nieces) have Sunday dinner every single week. EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. Pup says family vacations are planned around Sunday dinner. In his seventeen years of life, Pup has never missed a Sunday dinner. This is the kind of family we’re talking about. Except they are a grieving family that doesn’t grieve. And instead of eight siblings, there are now seven. It’s been almost three years since Patrick died, but no one talks about it. Each is left to grieve in his or her own way, sometimes with disastrous results. Pup’s manner of grieving is to stay invisible and inwardly boil over the image of the fat, cherubic, baby angel his mother used to replace Patrick’s 8th-grade graduation picture on the wall of the Flanagan children’s 8th-grade graduation pictures. It’s through his unexpected gift in photography, his new friendship with fellow photographer and North African immigrant, Abrihet, and, eventually, therapy, that Pup begins to find his own identity and truly, properly, and healthily grieve his brother. As a longtime high school librarian who devours 200 YA books per year, I have read plenty of books that include dead family members. These books have become more poignant for me after losing my mother three years ago. Something I’ve noticed since then that I don’t know ever really resonated with me before is just how differently people grieve. Read the rest of my review on the Librarians Lit Books blog! https://www.librarianslitbooks.com/si...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erin Quinn

    I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump for awhile - reading, but the books I was reading were just okay, not the kind of books you’d stay up late to read, or to sneak a few minutes between tasks to get a chapter in. And then came Sorry For Your Loss, by Jessie Ann Foley. Sorry For Your Loss follows Pup (which is a nickname; his real name is James) and his huge family of 26 - he is the last of 8 brothers and sisters. The story follows Pup as he tries to come to grips with life a few years after hi I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump for awhile - reading, but the books I was reading were just okay, not the kind of books you’d stay up late to read, or to sneak a few minutes between tasks to get a chapter in. And then came Sorry For Your Loss, by Jessie Ann Foley. Sorry For Your Loss follows Pup (which is a nickname; his real name is James) and his huge family of 26 - he is the last of 8 brothers and sisters. The story follows Pup as he tries to come to grips with life a few years after his brother Patrick suddenly passed away. Pup’s family isn’t one to talk about uncomfortable things, and so Patrick’s name is never mentioned, and his high school graduation photo on the wall going up the stairs was replaced by an image of a baby angel. And because Patrick’s never mentioned, everyone in the family deals with his death on their own, leading often to catastrophic results. Pup seems doomed to a life of mediocrity as he numbly fights his way through life, but then one teacher, Mr. Hughes, his art teacher, takes a chance on him and one stunning photograph he’d taken. And in this one chance, Pup’s life begins to change. Jessie Ann Foley is masterful with words and in immersing you in the lives of her characters. They feel so real. This made the experience of living with Pup for a bit feel like a delicious dip in someone else’s world for a while. Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Hewitt

    This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction Sorry for Your Loss is a beautiful examination of the way grief affects and defines us. Pup’s brother died suddenly three years ago, and it has impacted his family in more ways than he can count: his mother has withdrawn, his brother has turned to alcohol, and he himself struggles to focus on school and life when there’s a constant sense of fear and tension in the air. Basically, the whole family has turned into a shel This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction Sorry for Your Loss is a beautiful examination of the way grief affects and defines us. Pup’s brother died suddenly three years ago, and it has impacted his family in more ways than he can count: his mother has withdrawn, his brother has turned to alcohol, and he himself struggles to focus on school and life when there’s a constant sense of fear and tension in the air. Basically, the whole family has turned into a shell of what they once were. Pup realizes this, but he doesn’t see any way to escape this reality—after all, his family has always been less than communicative, and the topic of Patrick isn’t even brought up. Pup attends a therapy group at school that’s helped him, but it hasn’t enabled him to bridge the divide that seems to have opened up between him and most of his family members. As a last-ditch effort not to fail art, Pup turns to a photography project—and finds a talent and a passion he never expected. I loved how Pup’s artistic talent is a complete surprise to him. He’s able to capture the essence of his family through his camera lens in a way that he’s never been able to see them before. The book finds Pup and his family coming to terms with their grief and dealing with it head-on instead of hiding from it. Themes of friendship and romantic love are also explored—I loved the romance, but I actually don’t want to say much about it because I almost feel like it would be a spoiler. I’ll just say that I felt all of Pup’s relationships (with both friends and family) were developed beautifully and realistically, even those that had conflict. I definitely recommend this book! ***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Lyn

    Review closer to publication date... But ugh my heart.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wambui

    Pup's speech was beautiful, had me in tears. What an amazing read!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alessandra Congera

    5 stars are not enough for this beautiful gem!!!! Read in one lonely afternoon and be greatful to experience something so real, painful, beautiful and perfect. Everyone should read this, please do a favor to yourself and grab a copy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    LOVED this one! This was very cool--a story of how art can help and heal, a story of family and what it means to us. Loved the whole thing, but you WILL ugly cry. One of the better YA novels I've ever read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    The night before my father died, I sat with him overnight in the hospital. My father had suffered a perforated bowel a week before, and he was obviously septic. He had been fading for months, the ravages of old age, dementia, and years of refighting the Korean War in his sleep. I spent the night telling him about all the things that I knew because of him, all the things I was because of him, and all the things I aspired to be because of him. I drifted off somewhere before dawn, and the nurse cam The night before my father died, I sat with him overnight in the hospital. My father had suffered a perforated bowel a week before, and he was obviously septic. He had been fading for months, the ravages of old age, dementia, and years of refighting the Korean War in his sleep. I spent the night telling him about all the things that I knew because of him, all the things I was because of him, and all the things I aspired to be because of him. I drifted off somewhere before dawn, and the nurse came in at the shift change and told me to go home. I remember walking out of the hospital that morning, the cloying early morning air was full of the promise of a humid August afternoon, and the haze difused the rising sun in such a way that when they called less than an hour later that my father had passed away, I thought for sure I should have recognized it as an omen. The hospital representative concluded her call by saying, "Sorry for your loss." The absurdity of the language we use in the news of a death struck me hard that day and in the week that followed at the wake, the funeral, and the burial. On the way from the gravesite to the car, my mother whispered to me that she had no interest in living without my father. She died 350 days later. After 52 years of hearing my father snore and growl and scream in his sleep, she said that the silence at night kept her awake. Her grief was palpable, powerful, and all-consuming. It is one of the truths of human life that grief is a powerful force, and Jessie Ann Foley has written a beautiful novel to demonstrate that force. There was a moment as I read when Luke confesses to James in the alley behind their house that I found myself thinking of that walk across the too green grass of the cemetery, my octogenarian mother gripping my arm, remembering the sound of grief that haunted her whisper, and tears came to my eyes. Such is the power of Foley's prose to capture life in all of its ugly joy and beautiful misery. This is Foley's third novel, and her most relatable to date. The Flanagans are sloppy and petty and mean and perfectly drawn to make you wish to share a bowl of Bolognese with them on any given Sunday. At times funny, at times tragic, but always, always, always written with a voice that knows these characters, knows Flanland, and knows the truth. I can't recommend this novel highly enough.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Teenage Reads

    Plot: Pup Flanagan does not have any talents in front of his ageing parents' eyes. With a seven-year age gap between Pup and is next sibling, Pup is used to being regarded as a nephew to his siblings rather than their brother. At least to some of them. Patrick always saw Pup as his brother, someone he had to protect, share knowledge with, and to keep their older brother Luke from picking on him too hard. Or at least, that how it used to be before Pat died. It has been two years since Pat died, an Plot: Pup Flanagan does not have any talents in front of his ageing parents' eyes. With a seven-year age gap between Pup and is next sibling, Pup is used to being regarded as a nephew to his siblings rather than their brother. At least to some of them. Patrick always saw Pup as his brother, someone he had to protect, share knowledge with, and to keep their older brother Luke from picking on him too hard. Or at least, that how it used to be before Pat died. It has been two years since Pat died, and Pup’s family still is not the same. His mother is now quieter, does not do anything that could make her upset even in the slightest way. Luke drinks, a lot, so much so that Pup has no idea how he is supposed to pass the bar exam for law school. Their Sunday night dinners in which every member of the family shows up, are for polite talk and for the sister-mom, the sisters who have kids, to brag up their child, yet no one dares to speak about Pat’s death, Luke’s drinking, Pup failing art grade, or their mother quietness. The only person Pup could talk to would be Izzy, his best friend since freshman year, and the girl who stole his heart at the same time. Izzy though was preoccupied with her boyfriend Brody, who to Pup is the worst type of person ever. Pup met Izzy in their Bereavement Group, which they nicknamed the Pity Party, and is a group of students who does group therapy to talk about the loss of their loved one. In the group, Izzy was the only one who also lost a sibling, and thus the two of them became a friend over their shared grief. Yet, as much as Pup loves Izzy, she is not going to help him pass Studio 1 Art. Failing painting, drawing, pottery, Mr. Hughes gives Pup one of the school’s cameras and for his final project he needs to take a picture of something expresses himself, otherwise, he will fail the class. Panicking in the dark room leads Pup to submit the picture of Luke passed out on the roof in the early morning light, which not only gives him a passing grade, but one of the selected students to represent the school at the Illinois High School Association Art and Design Competition. Realising his photography skills can actually lead to something, Pup began to piece together the pictures of his future, Izzy, the girl he loves, and his Patrick family, and post-Pat family. Thoughts: This story hits you in your feelings in your least suspected way. Jessie Ann Foley wrote this story from the perspective of the youngest child. Therefore he lived with Pat, had solid memories of his older brother, but was still too young to deal with details of Pat’s death like arranging the funeral, asking Mom to pull the plug, and donating Pat’s college books. Yet, the loss of Pat also hit him the hardest, due to him having least amount of time with Patrick than the rest of them, being the brother Pat tucked under his wing, and the one he had so many future plans with. Foley writes quickly, making the plot move fast, and take turns that you do not expect to happen, leaving you to hope everything turns out right for Pup. The sweetest part was when Abby, Pup’s photography friend, tells Pup her real name, and Pup tells her his (shockingly these people did not actually name their child Pup), to which after that point these characters refer to the other by their real name. You only wish that Foley would have written Pup to be less awkward, but I guess that is part of his charm. Where you witness Pup letting characters walk over him, Pup unable to defend himself in situations, to which you beg Foley to let Pup say the right thing for once, and for her only to disappoint you. The main story line, where is not unique it is beautiful as it deals with different types of grief from different characters, as the whole family struggles with the loss of a brother/son.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    This book was really good. Pup was an easy character to like, as were all the other characters. We understood his point of view as well as everyone else's; it didn't really hit me to put myself in everyone else's shoes until we got to the part of Pup confronting his mom about not talking about Patrick's death. I completely agree with her, I wouldn't want to talk about it either because feelings make me uncomfortable. She didn't say that, but everyone grieves differently. I don't talk about thing This book was really good. Pup was an easy character to like, as were all the other characters. We understood his point of view as well as everyone else's; it didn't really hit me to put myself in everyone else's shoes until we got to the part of Pup confronting his mom about not talking about Patrick's death. I completely agree with her, I wouldn't want to talk about it either because feelings make me uncomfortable. She didn't say that, but everyone grieves differently. I don't talk about things unless forced to. No one wanted to talk about it and that annoyed Pup but not everyone likes talking about sensitive things like death in the family. I absolutely adored Abrihet in this story, though I kept forgetting what her real name was. The art teacher made me laugh the most, he was a great character. I love that Pup got into photography, not having the book start with him liking it. It made him relatable to people who don't know their interests yet and have maybe given up on ever finding it, like me. Izzy was questionable. I always thought she was a fake friend, mostly because of what she said when Pup told her she was getting cheated on. Who says that to their friend??? Their supposed best friend? I mean...how? I just never liked her. She's always seemed like a bad person to me. The grief club was a great addition in my opinion. I liked how it was sort of made funny even though it was a really sad place. Pup literally says that a kid sleeps with his dead moms blazer, how depressing is that? I have to say that the contest for the pictures bored me. I didn't care for that part of the story. Patrick was a doll, what we saw of him was great. I liked that he was so sweet to Pup and how great he was in general. I really wish he didn't die, which is how I guess we're supposed to feel. We're supposed to sympathize with the family by knowing how amazing Pat was, knowing that he didn't deserve to die. Luke was supposed to be hateable, and he is, but when we learn why he is the way he is is when we really do sympathize with him as well. When we learn that he thinks he's responsible for the death of his brother, I broke into tears with him. It's stupid because there's literally no way that he could have helped his brother or known that he was that close to death. How much did he have to drink to come up with that? How long had he felt like that? Jeez, no wonder he's such a mess. To lose someone you love and blame it on yourself. I love the way the pictures are depicted; I really wish we could actually see them because they sound beautiful. My biggest complaint with this book is that it's very...you have to really look into some of the things said, like a poem. The ending especially just goes too deep for me to like or understand. I'm not into books or stories that you have to analyse for a meaning, like you would do with a poem. I don't like having to really deeply think about writing, that may sound bad but it's just how I am. 10/10 would recommend reading this book though. It's very good.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    I was totally unprepared for the emotional power and impact of this quiet story. It starts out routinely enough and slowly introduces you to Pup, an awkward unmotivated high school boy and his hopeless crush on a classmate. Gradually Foley brings in the members of his large and noisy Flanagan family - a Chicago Catholic family with 7 kids. Pup is the youngest at 17 and his siblings all live with a short distance in what he thinks of as "Flanland." But this close and loving family is struggling w I was totally unprepared for the emotional power and impact of this quiet story. It starts out routinely enough and slowly introduces you to Pup, an awkward unmotivated high school boy and his hopeless crush on a classmate. Gradually Foley brings in the members of his large and noisy Flanagan family - a Chicago Catholic family with 7 kids. Pup is the youngest at 17 and his siblings all live with a short distance in what he thinks of as "Flanland." But this close and loving family is struggling with crippling grief over the sudden death of one of the sons from meningitis and they are all lost and alone in the midst of the family crowd. An art teacher takes an interest in Pup and in a lucky moment, opens a door for Pup into the unusual experience of finding something he is good at and enjoys. Pup begins to really see his world, his family, his relationships and his own pain with an objective eye for the first time. As Pup finally begins to deal with this grief, he slowly takes his family with him on a journey that may help them all to heal. This is a deceptively quiet story, written with a slight feeling of distance that provides the reader with just enough space to walk this emotional path with Pup while also looking on with an objective sense at the entire arc of their family dynamics. I found this story incredibly powerful and deeply moving. It is a brilliant portrait of family relationships and the way so many families deal - or don't deal - with grief. Pup is a charming and achingly authentic character who stole my heart as did the entire Flanagan mob. I won't soon forget them. While this is a wonderful moving book for older teens, I think it will be equally effective as a cross-over book for the new adult and adult readers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shaye Miller

    Pup Flanagan is a junior in high school. He’s the youngest of eight children and had a special connection with his older brother, Patrick. Back when Patrick died of meningitis while away at college, Pup joined a bereavement group where he became attached to a girl named Izzy (who also lost her brother). But after years of being best friends with Izzy, her failure to return his romantic feelings leaves him even more lost than usual. Pup realizes he has no future plans and he is basically failing Pup Flanagan is a junior in high school. He’s the youngest of eight children and had a special connection with his older brother, Patrick. Back when Patrick died of meningitis while away at college, Pup joined a bereavement group where he became attached to a girl named Izzy (who also lost her brother). But after years of being best friends with Izzy, her failure to return his romantic feelings leaves him even more lost than usual. Pup realizes he has no future plans and he is basically failing his art class. That’s when his teacher hands him a camera and asks him to try out photography. And it’s through his camera lens that he begins to see his family in a whole new light. Granted, these are honest teen characters in a world of hurt, so I can understand the frustrated sarcasm shared while grieving. However, I initially felt a tad uncomfortable with the practice of making fun of people who say “sorry for your loss.” In my experience of loss, it was better when someone acknowledged the hurt instead of just tip-toeing around me. Yet the point remains: Engage with someone who’s in the midst of loss — don’t just say the words and disconnect. That discomfort aside, this was a very honest portrayal of a family in the aftermath of unexpected loss. It was painful and moving and well worth the read. For more children's literature, middle grade literature, and YA literature reviews, feel free to visit my personal blog at The Miller Memo!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Neville Longbottom

    Sorry For Your Loss is an interesting YA book about grief that has a lot of elements that I haven’t previously seen in a book for this age range. Pup Flanagan is the youngest of eight siblings with a 27 year age gap between him and his oldest sister. One of his older brothers, Patrick, died three years ago but the family as a whole never truly worked through their grief together. I thought it was interesting to have this book set years after Patrick’s death to show how grief isn’t something that Sorry For Your Loss is an interesting YA book about grief that has a lot of elements that I haven’t previously seen in a book for this age range. Pup Flanagan is the youngest of eight siblings with a 27 year age gap between him and his oldest sister. One of his older brothers, Patrick, died three years ago but the family as a whole never truly worked through their grief together. I thought it was interesting to have this book set years after Patrick’s death to show how grief isn’t something that just happens in the immediate aftermath of a death. There’s an emphasis in the book about Pup continually going to a bereavement group and working through all the frustrating reactions that other people can have when they learn about his brother’s death. Because Pup has such a large family and the majority of his adult siblings don’t live at home most of them blend together and there’s not a super clear sense of them as individuals. I wish that more time was spent truly fleshing out the full family. There was a romance that Pup has with a girl in his class, and while it was nice enough I feel like it wasn’t totally necessary. If the time spent on that was shifted towards more of the family dynamic I think the book could’ve been stronger. I definitely recommend this book, I think it says a lot of interesting things about the grieving process.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    I’m a huge Jessie Ann Foley fan. A new book from her is always a gift. I loved her Neighborhood Girls and The Carnival At Bray. Sorry For You Loss is a story that is just as wonderful. Pup is the youngest of eight children in an Irish Catholic family in Chicago, He lost his brother, Patrick a few years ago. His family is still reeling from that loss in different ways that are not always obvious to each other. Pup’s brother Luke has a drinking problem and Pup feels he constantly needs to cover fo I’m a huge Jessie Ann Foley fan. A new book from her is always a gift. I loved her Neighborhood Girls and The Carnival At Bray. Sorry For You Loss is a story that is just as wonderful. Pup is the youngest of eight children in an Irish Catholic family in Chicago, He lost his brother, Patrick a few years ago. His family is still reeling from that loss in different ways that are not always obvious to each other. Pup’s brother Luke has a drinking problem and Pup feels he constantly needs to cover for him. Pup is part of a grief support group at his school. That is where he meet Izzy, the object of his unrequited crush. Pup is also struggling in his art class and his photography project is the only thing between him and failure, This is the story of Pup dealing with the painful impact of losing his brother, his feelings about girls and discovering a new talent he didn’t know existed. Jessie Ann Foley is a master at creating a cast of characters I root for and I enjoy following their journeys. After I read the moment with Pup and Patrick’s baseball hat, I had to put the book down and cry. This is a great book for both teenage boys and girls. It has appeal factors for both. Adults will love it too. This is a summer book you won’t want to miss.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kalli Poulson

    This is a wonderful book. It was recommended to me by my aunt who thought it had done a great job of helping her understand her son better. I would recommend this book to high school students as well as their parents because of the insight into the minds of the high schoolers, and how understanding and change a family dynamic for the better. A child cares about stability and love more than money and confusion, and this book puts that beautifully into perspective. I would love to teach this book This is a wonderful book. It was recommended to me by my aunt who thought it had done a great job of helping her understand her son better. I would recommend this book to high school students as well as their parents because of the insight into the minds of the high schoolers, and how understanding and change a family dynamic for the better. A child cares about stability and love more than money and confusion, and this book puts that beautifully into perspective. I would love to teach this book in a classroom, as it shows how grief can manifest itself in countless ways, just as healing can come into a life through countless avenues. The loss of family is not something that one can truly "move on" from but it is something that a person can move forward with, they can move forward with the memory of that person. The theme that we could discuss would center around the idea of grief, empathy, and moving forward. Some high schoolers may have gone through awful grief and others may not have experienced it nearly as deeply but this book will be helpful either way and connect to many students. Warnings -death -grief

  28. 4 out of 5

    Crossroads Library

    This review is posted on both my personal and professional goodreads pages. Actual Rating: 4.25 This book hurt a little. Hurt a lot? Grief is this crazy, tricky beast. It’s different for everyone, and when you’re in the midst of it, it’s easy to start judging the way everyone around you is handling it. “They’re moving on too quickly. They’re not even acknowledging it. They’re letting it consume them too much.” You find yourself weighing how the loss affected you against how it’s affected others. This review is posted on both my personal and professional goodreads pages. Actual Rating: 4.25 This book hurt a little. Hurt a lot? Grief is this crazy, tricky beast. It’s different for everyone, and when you’re in the midst of it, it’s easy to start judging the way everyone around you is handling it. “They’re moving on too quickly. They’re not even acknowledging it. They’re letting it consume them too much.” You find yourself weighing how the loss affected you against how it’s affected others. Pup has a huge family, and all of them are handling the loss of his brother Patrick, in different ways. And this book did an excellent job of capturing that. There’s also an extended metaphor for grief at the end of the book that is just so, so perfect in a lot of ways and I was very tempted to just quote that as my entire review but I only have access to the ARC version right now as I’m writing this, so you’ll just have to trust me that it is a perfect payoff in an already beautiful done book. T/W: alcoholism. The synopsis didn’t prepare me for it, so heads up that it’s a big part of the book. -Kelli

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    To say I wasn’t expecting this would be to pretend like I had any expectations to begin with; it was just another book picked up off my pile. And yet I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading it, so deeply engrossed in Pup Flanagan’s story that there was no way I wasn’t going to finish it in one sitting. This book had me putting it down and sighing. I said, “Oh that was lovely,” aloud more than once. I shook my head and said damn damn DAMN a few times. And at the end, I cried like a baby. Books like this To say I wasn’t expecting this would be to pretend like I had any expectations to begin with; it was just another book picked up off my pile. And yet I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading it, so deeply engrossed in Pup Flanagan’s story that there was no way I wasn’t going to finish it in one sitting. This book had me putting it down and sighing. I said, “Oh that was lovely,” aloud more than once. I shook my head and said damn damn DAMN a few times. And at the end, I cried like a baby. Books like this are rare: small gems with characters who make you love them and ache for them and hope for them. YA publishers love to comp books to THE SERPENT KING, and I’ll be honest that it never clicks - until it does. Pup is just the most wonderfully average and yet extraordinary young character with the weight of the world on his skinny shoulders, and the way he’s written gave me so many Dill in THE SERPENT KING moments. The details of his family and his relationship with his two brothers - one dead, one trying to atone for something that isn’t his fault and nearly killing himself in the process - was just exceptional. And holy hell that ending. All the tears.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    I've never felt comfortable saying "sorry for your loss" after someone has died. Loss implies there is someone/something to blame or that there is still potential to be found and I don't find that comforting. And this book needed nothing but a giant hug. Pup and his family are messy and complicated. As the youngest of eight kids, he's learned that listening and observing is his best mode of survival. He's also dealing with the death of one brother, the out-of-control spiraling of another, an unr I've never felt comfortable saying "sorry for your loss" after someone has died. Loss implies there is someone/something to blame or that there is still potential to be found and I don't find that comforting. And this book needed nothing but a giant hug. Pup and his family are messy and complicated. As the youngest of eight kids, he's learned that listening and observing is his best mode of survival. He's also dealing with the death of one brother, the out-of-control spiraling of another, an unrequited crush on a friend and a failing art grade. Somehow all these elements combine to help Pup find his voice and his place within his family. There is so much heartache wrapped up in this, but also a lot of love and a really good look at the effects of therapy. I loved this big, chaotic family and thought Pup had a heart of gold. There's some light romance and even though the main character is male, this still reminded me a lot of Sarah Dessen's newest book about to come out.

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