Their father is dying. He's returned home to stay with his middle child who purchased the family house from him a few years ago. Together they've got a routine, a plan of sorts for his final days. And as each of his other children pays their final visits, tension between the siblings runs high. The middle daughter longs for the quiet and peace that will come with their leaving as her father's end draws nearer. Because, she believes, his end will bring about a wondrous sight. Something she's witnessed just twice before. Something that's come for her in her darkest moments.
The Language of Dying is an odd one to sum up. It's about grief. It's about families. It's about the relationship between parents and their children and relationships between siblings.
And it's about, I think, the magic of hope.
Whatever your take away is from this slim book, I guarantee it's one you won't escape without experiencing a serious range of emotions. To that end, it's something of a painful read. It's a read that's certainly stayed with me since I finished it. And it's a read that, I think obviously by this review, I've had trouble compiling my own thoughts about.
Sarah Pinborough has long been a favorite of mine, even though I've yet to read through all of her current body of work. The Language of Dying is like nothing I've ever read by her. Yes, it's all her - writing, style, pacing... - but I've only delved so far into her straight up horror. This is definitely not horror. Or at least not in the most traditional sense.
Grief can be horrific. The way the various siblings deal with losing their father certainly illustrates that. Two of them can't, or won't, cope at all. One offers up the expected support. And another even surprises our narrator. And while our narrator puts up a good front for her father, she does eventually crack a bit under the pressure, letting loose some emotion she's kept bottled up for quite some time.
Through all of this, though, the narrator longs for something she's kept mostly secret. It's this secret that allows her to live through the grief she feels. The expectation that this, one of the worst moments of her life, will bring magic.
As I said, a hard one to sum up. An odd one for sure, but one that very obviously shows what a massive talent Sarah Pinborough is!