[Greene's] writing — about sudden death, family relationships, marriage, spirituality and healing — is a revelation of lightness and agility. That he managed to keep his facility for language during a period where it often disappears is a miracle. He has created a narrative of grief and acceptance that is compulsively readable and never self-indulgent ... the one character I wanted more of was Susan.
Needless to say, it’s heartbreaking. I read much of it through a blur of tears. But Greene’s book is also heartwarming, a valuable addition to the literature of grief ... Their story is not just of loss, but of their remarkable love, which helps them through this tragedy ... The first section painfully reconstructs the immediate aftermath of the accident, including excruciating hours at their daughter’s hospital bedside ... Aware that his story will reliably elicit shock and tears, Greene at one point bitterly calls himself 'a rock star of grief.' But he also writes gorgeously of grief ... Greene’s writerly skills are in evidence throughout this book. He opens with a lovely memory of the only time his daughter dipped her feet in ocean water, shortly before her death ... luminous.
Once More We Saw Stars is a quietly heartbreaking memoir ... It would be totally understandable to fear this story might be too bleak to face—indeed, there would be something strange about not worrying about that. Yet it’s an intensely moving, life-affirming story about a young couple moving through the darkest depths of grief together ... Once More We Saw Stars gets brutally intimate about the details of grief and loss, with two shattered people improvising their own healing rituals ... in Greene’s masterful and compassionate hands, it becomes a love story.
It’s hard to believe, in such a short amount of time, that Greene could revisit this period with such clarity and grace. His emotionally transparent story resonates not just for the intense sadness at its core, but also its implicit message of perseverance — a complex portrait of a family struggling to go on, manifested in this melodic, sensitive tribute ... A freelance music journalist, Greene writes in the present-tense, a stylistic choice that pays off if only because he’s able to so comprehensively guide his readers through even the darkest of moments. He is descriptive, perceptive, documenting with a biographer’s care bursts of pain or numbness as they’re felt and internalized ... Greene turns away from no emotion in his work; the feeling, for the reader, can be overpoweringly personal. Though Stars is told from its author’s perspective, the memoir is at its best when expanding beyond his experience, exploring what others are going through as they wade through tragedy.
In his first book, Once More We saw Stars New York writer Jayson Greene admirably captures the beauty and, sometimes, the ego of grief. It is as unrelenting, as furious as grief itself, its opening salvo an excerpt from Dante’s Inferno from which the book takes its title, and is a warning of what is to come ... Far from gratuitous misery for its own sake, Greene’s first book draws universal understanding from particular circumstances. He grounds his memoir in the many small absurdities of living with grief that keep his writing nimble; insensitive social workers, the relief of exercise, talking intimately with utter strangers in a support group, still having to answer his emails. Greene’s grief is a response to the worst kind of loss, but he does not 'pull rank'. Anyone who has lost someone can find themselves in here ... In his most accomplished moments, Greene peels the skin right back on painfully intimate truths, and lets the air at something visceral in a way that many writers on death fail to do. The result is a grief memoir of rare and perhaps even unflattering honesty that gives meaningful context to living with loss and surviving something that seems impossible until it happens.
...affecting ... Greene pours his grief onto the page, rendering a portrait of a father who is fractured and at odds with a world in which his child is gone. He writes in harrowing emotional terms ... what sets the memoir apart is his ability to illuminate the mundane moments that become surreal in the midst of trauma and tragedy ... He conveys his anxieties in potent prose ... Once More We Saw Stars offers glimpses of humor, light and love amid the loss
This minutely observed memoir will surely be helpful to other people whose world changes in an instant. Greene, a journalist, never flinches from his distress and is not ashamed to describe himself as he truly is as he struggles to carry on in a world where Greta no longer exists. He has an eye for pinning precise detail and there is a dark humour to be had in some of the sections where they go to grief support groups that sometimes help and often don’t ... It is a hopeful book, in many ways.
Once More We Saw Stars isn’t about the tragedy that befell a family—although Greene recounts with exquisite detail how he felt in the tragic days that ended his daughter’s life. The memoir is instead a story of a couple who faced one of the worst things imaginable and still continued to choose life.
... clear, richly detailed prose ... This gripping memoir follows the couple into and out of the depths of grief, through ordinary and less ordinary days, as 'suicidal despair' alternates with howling anger at the universe, and as they make the fraught decision to try to have another child. Greene, remarkably, pays as much attention to the particulars of the people and places around him as he does to his own unsugarcoated experience of the tentative but real return of hope and pleasure in life.
..the experience of reading Once More, a masterful literary performance willed together from the shattered mosaic of a family, forced me outside of myself to join Greene in wrestling with the ineffable and with what remains.... Greene offers a raw, luminous portrait of suffering and partial healing, with loss set to hum forever just beneath the surface ... There’s something Homeric about the death of a child. Merely contemplating the awful magnitude of the experience prompts thinking that is both magical and overwrought. Which brings me to one of the book’s most extraordinary aspects. Greene invites readers into his torment in such a quiet way. His writing is stunning, inventive yet unornamented. But where some would summon images of storms and indiscriminate annihilation, Greene deploys piercing intimacies ...[a] beautiful, devastating book.
Compassionate and sensitively told, Greene’s story accomplishes an exceptionally difficult feat: transforming tragedy into both a spiritual journey and a celebration of wonder ... A poignantly uplifting memoir of moving forward after terrible loss.