Loss Adjustment by Linda Collins is a non-fictional memoir recounting the author’s experience of losing her 17 year old daughter, Victoria to suicide in 2014.
Set in Singapore, it is an unflinching, raw and often heart-wrenching read. It takes the reader into the heart of a Kiwi family, effectively conjuring family life and daily experience before, during and after Victoria’s tragic death through the sharing of memories and scenes that reflect the nuances, beauty, stresses and challenges of daily living.
The reader is entirely drawn in by the intensity of the opening chapter “Loss”. It is told in an almost rapid-fire style at a breathless pace that perfectly captures the parent’s sense of unreality when faced with the most tragic reality. The author shares the next few hours and days, describing beautifully poignant and at times harrowing moments during the wake and cremation.
We can instantly picture the condo security guard, who has observed Victoria’s childhood and adolescence, now overcome with emotion as he embraces and supports Victoria’s sobbing father. We are moved by a bereft mother tenderly caring for her daughter’s teenage body as it is prepared for a wake. We are touched by mourners singing songs of faith next to Victoria’s open coffin, and share in the saddest of “goodbyes” at her funeral.
After the book’s intense opening section, the pace slows in subsequent chapters, as we go on a journey with Victoria’s mother – seeking to unravel Victoria’s death. In these “Adjustment” chapters, the author seeks answers, grapples with institutions, studies Victoria’s diary entries and gradually tries to find a way to live in her new reality.
We come to know and admire Victoria, to better understand her complexity, her intelligence, the beauty of her writing and her courage while struggling to “fit in”. Her suicide is both somewhat understandable and also equally incomprehensible. As readers, we are challenged, confronted, saddened and moved.
In closing, Loss Adjustment is clearly a book about grief, adolescence, parenting, teenage friendships, society, culture and truth. It is also a testimony of an expat family finding support and community in a country far from home, from the diverse cultures we live and work among here in Singapore. But, mostly, it is a stunning portrayal of the strength of a mother’s love for her only daughter, and her relentless quest and struggle to understand her daughter and her daughter’s fateful action.
This emotive, unflinching book challenges all of us to look beyond the surface, to challenge and seek answers and support each other always.
Note: Loss Adjustment scheduled to be launched in late September 2019. Pre-order your copy now on the Ethos Books’ website, and receive a personal, handwritten letter from Linda. With every pre-order copy purchased till 27 September, $1 will be donated to Samaritans of Singapore, in support of mental health advocacy and suicide prevention in Singapore.
By Ruth Beattie, August 2019
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