Our Short History doesn’t traffic in platitudes or soft-focus farewell monologues. For that, we are all grateful. Instead, Lauren Grodstein has subtly written a cathartic and unexpectedly profound book that connects with an experience we all hope to put off as long as possible. It’s also impossible to put down ... Just as you think that Grodstein is steering her reader down a well-trodden road, she turns cliché on a dime. Her gimlet eye offers surprises throughout the book ... Our Short History delivers the emotional punch you expect it to, only it comes from an angle you didn’t anticipate. This letter from mother to son speaks to all.
...it’s a conceit that only partly works. If this book were in actuality a record of a mother and son’s short, precious time together, it would never include ruminations on campaign strategy or the writer’s innermost thoughts (think: sex and revenge) about the boy’s father ... If you can get past the gimmick, however, a tender tale unfolds ... Grodstein, with poignancy and mordant humor helps us see and sympathize with a mother’s illogical desperation ... Grodstein has a fine touch, alternately sarcastic, perceptive and wistful.
...an unabashed tear duct rooter that should come with its own box of Kleenex Ultra Soft and a plush toy from the American Cancer Society ... If the conceit of having Karen write an entire book to Jake in direct address gets clunky in places, particularly after her remission gives way to recurrence and her condition deteriorates, it is consistent with 'sick lit' as a genre and keeps the pages turning ... This primal eruption of maternal jealousy and rage is the dramatic high point of the novel — 'I am your only mother!' Karen howls in a $2,000 wig, a Wii controller clutched in her hand. The rest of Our Short History, unfortunately, is content to deliver the tamer pleasures of 'sick lit' for adults.