... a profound and engaging meditation on personal possessions ... Like many white Southern protestant families, Smith and her kin appear on the surface to be stoic in the face of death. It’s only in Smith’s writing that her emotions come to the surface, especially when she’s faced with her parents’ possessions and the quandary over what to do with them.
Smith deftly springboards between memoir and meditations on the nature of possessions ... The challenge in writing memoir is avoiding the 'and then' trap, a list of events with no sense of causality. But Smith’s use of the essay form allows for meandering and chronological leaps, all while never losing tension. At times she tests us, but the pull always snaps back ... Each chapter is broken into short sections that create an effective bread-crumb method, as readers track Smith’s memories and thoughts ... Recommended for anyone who has lost a parent, for lovers and wranglers of ephemera, for amateur epistemologists, and for incorrigible musers.
A whimsical memento mori ... Smith is a sensitive and nuanced storyteller, so that the very intimate curiosities of her family’s life become a bridge for understanding grief more generally. She couches her sadness in terms of classic novels and modern memoirs, and she reaches a point where she acknowledges that all have lost—such pain joins us as humans ... Her careful treatment of things inherited—both tangible and internal—is a sympathetic ode to the vibrant stories that live on, even when the people who lived in them have gone.