Without Jenny releases April 20, 2018 (Koehler Books). Here’s a look at what other best-selling authors already have to say about this stunning debut novel from author Mark Gunther:
“Without Jenny tells the story of Joy, who must find some way to remake a life and a sense of meaning in the wake of her young daughter’s death. Anyone who has ever experienced a devastating loss will recognize the wisdom and honesty of this novel. Gunther vividly dramatizes how grief grants a horrible exceptional status that isolates us from others and makes us long to retreat from the petty concerns of the living. He also movingly depicts the loving embrace of family and friends, even when it can’t be felt by the grieving person, and the courage it takes simply to go on surviving. There are no palliative proverbs here—no reassurance that suffering strengthens us, no sense that time heals all wounds. Yet we witness Joy fight valiantly with and for her husband and surviving child to be a family again, without Jenny but with the memory of her. This novel draws us intimately close to the mysteries of imperfect love and of human resilience.” – Catherine Brady, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction
“Without Jenny is a heartbreaking journey of love and loss, of mourning and memory, of faith and doubt. Mark Gunther offers his readers a meditation on strength, courage and the healing power of family.” – Rabbi Naomi Levy, author of Einstein and the Rabbi
“A fatal tragedy can rip a family apart. Without Jenny immerses the reader in the unbearable pain and sorrow of child loss, yet love and compassion guide this family through the darkness to a place of hope, faith and healing. An absorbing read, Without Jenny shares the experience of all bereaved parents and can help inform the people who support them.” —Janet Roberts, editor, Grief Digest magazine
“Without Jenny is the page-turning story of a family who lose their ten-year-old in a tragic accident, and as such, it is a novel about grief. Grief is revealed in all its chaotic manifestations with realistic, unsentimental detail. First we see the family reel in shock and then we see them begin to navigate a no-man’s land littered with landmines. Everything is now called into question.
“If we have ever grieved, this is our story, and we watch with sober clarity as the family constricts painfully from four into three. We watch, and our compassion is aroused not simply for the characters in this story, but for ourselves as well, struggling not to feel and also struggling to feel. Where do the dead go, this story asks, and Joy hears the voice of her dead daughter speaking inside of her.
“So the dead may live on in those who have loved them, and yet, can love ever really be stronger than death? Most marriages fail with the death of a child, each spouse endlessly reflecting the loss back at the other. What is the calculus, the magic formula that can make everything add up once again? The answer this breathtaking novel offers is going to surprise you.” – Sherril Jaffe, author of You Are Not Alone and Other Stories.
“If there is nothing as whole as a broken heart, then Gunther’s novel about the broken-heartedness that emerges for all who grieve offers readers a window into a paradox—how can so much luminosity emerge from such deep darkness? Protagonist Joy is our psychopomp, daring to guide us through the valley of death’s dark abode, encountering so many layers of experiences in this mourning process—rabbi, synagogue, home and more, so as to emerge more whole and open to the holy within this devastating moment. Gunther’s debut novel is part Kaddish, part Cuckoo’s Nest—something every seeker yearning for the presence of the empty fullness of reality must read and reflect upon. Joy is the key to the wholeness that might emerge for every one of us broken human beings. –Rabbi Aubrey L. Glazer, Ph.D., Director of Panui; Research Fellow at Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies