Love at the Center of Grief

Posted on August 17, 2020 by Rhodes and Easton Reviews

Taking the first step into the hallways of high school can be an overwhelming and emotional experience for most adolescents. Imagine tackling this right of passage after losing a parent. In Love at the Center of Grief by Cindy McIntyre, we meet “Grief Girl” Gretchen and “Hardly Speaks” Hayden (as dubbed and by their peers), two motherless teenagers faced with this very difficult task.

Enter Mrs. Marks and the Summerfort Grief Center, with the motto “A Place to Heal, A Place to Hope, A Place to Belong.” Gretchen and Hayden have attended grief sessions at the center since the tender age of six with some success. However, high school is another story.

Through their real and raw journal entries and assignments from Mrs. Marks, readers are shown these seemingly together teens are actually floundering amid a cloud of grief. All the while, each is dealing with a daily dose of puberty and a mostly misunderstood dad. Bonded by grief and fighting to fit-in amongst their two parent peers, Gretchen and Hayden’s friendship grows stronger and becomes more than occasional meltdowns during meetings at the grief center. McIntyre manages to capture the essence of teen angst in such a way that you find yourself strapped into their rollercoaster ride of emotions and it’s exhilarating!

By sharing dark thoughts and secret hopes, Gretchen and Hayden begin to see the importance of focusing on their future rather than dwelling in the past. Will Gretchen become Hayden’s Strawberry Shortcake to his Huckleberry Pie like he so desperately wishes or will the weight of grief drag them both back down into the depths of despair? Only time will tell.

McIntyre relies on her experience as a grief-counselor to create a compelling, coming-of-age story complete with new life and love while leaving you lingering on your own personal loss long after you’ve finished reading this book.
Cindy McIntyre

Cindy McIntyre