Review of The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

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3.75/5 stars

The Language of Dying is a novella told about a forty year old woman coping with her father slowly dying and suffering from Cheyne-Stokes respiration. It is told from a first-person narrator talking to her father as he is semi-conscious and unresponsive on his deathbed.  The story also delves into the backstory of the family, which consists of five siblings and the mother who left them when they were children.

I was deeply moved by the interaction of the narrator with her father as she spoke to him about the family, memories, her life, etc.  It was touching and sad.

I also thought the interactions between the siblings as they arrived and each dealt with the dying father in his/her own way felt realistic and moving.

The only flaw I found with the novella was when the narrator delved into specific stories from her past (including giving the reader some insight into how her siblings came to be where they are when the story takes place).  Considering that the story is only 88 pages, the backstory bogged the novella down when the author really didn’t need to add any explanation or exposition. I understand the point was to show that all families are flawed in their own way but it didn’t need to be explicitly said.  I think the story would have been stronger had she excluded that portion.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone as it offers a quick yet insightful and layered reading experience.

I received a copy of the novella from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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