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Jean Brown
Author
This Sweet Life: How We Lived After Kirby Died
Jean Brown, author
Kirby Brown was a seeker who lived a life of passion and adventure. When she and two others died in a sweat lodge at a self-help retreat on October 8, 2009, it shattered her family and friends. Kirby’s mother and sister detail how they learned about Kirby’s ugly death, struggled through their grief, and kept moving forward through the trial of the criminally negligent guru in charge, James Arthur Ray–international best-selling motivational speaker who had been featured in “The Secret” and on Oprah. Following the trial, the family founded SEEK Safely Inc., to empower seekers on their self-improvement journeys. Even through their multi-layered grieving process, Ginny and Jean Brown wanted to live as Kirby did—with passion and love. In sharing their story, they offer an invitation into their private hell, an immersion in their grief, and a story of evolution after trauma.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10

Assessment:

Idea: This Sweet Life: How We Lived After Kirby Died is an extremely well-written and hauntingly emotional, heartbreaking account of loss. The text expertly combines the memoir of the authors losing a woman who was their daughter and sister with the account of bringing the man who caused her death to justice.

Prose/Style: The authors balance the skills of composing flashbacks combined with present-day events to re-create the life of the subject and walk readers through her tragic death.

Originality: This poignant recount of love and tragedy hits all the right marks. The main suggestion would be that the use of italics for Jean make her sections a little bit harder to read, but that's a minor alteration to what is otherwise a very strong read.

Character Development/Execution: The execution of the book -- alternating written chapters by both mother and daughter – has the potential easily get lost in the timing of the events, but it doesn't. The weaving of both stories and past and present tense is done extremely well.

Date Submitted: December 11, 2020

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