A Book Review of Absolutely Delicious: A Chronicle of Extraordinary Dying by Alison Jean Lester

June 2, 2021, 12:37 p.m.

huunuu book club review on a family's extraordinary relationship with dying and grief.


I always go into reading books about death, dying and grief with some trepidation. I’ve an excitement for learning and discovering more but a slight worry about the impact the book might have on me.  


With this book I had no need to worry.  


The book drew me in as soon as I started the preface and was introduced to the content types within the book: text, haikus, and illustrations.  


I found that I was totally absorbed in the story as soon as I was introduced to Alison’s mother Valerie: what an amazing character! Through Alison’s familiar writing style, I began to understand the essence of Valerie. Whilst reading about her, I decided that she was someone I would have loved to meet. 


My favourite part about this book is the extraordinary life story of Alison's family and the relationship they seem to have with death and dyingThe main story is of Alison's mother and her journey, but you get to learn about how her other family members also dealt with this experience. 


Her parents truly took charge when it came to how they wished to exit the world. They wanted control over how their deaths would take place. It is important to note here that both of Alison's parents died from chronic and terminal illness and so through their approaches and deep conversations they took the opportunity of having a say and sharing their wishes.  


Whilst reading the book I wondered if this approach to death and dying was embedded in how they lived their lives? As you work your way through the book, you begin to understand that Alison and her family seem to have lived quite interesting and rich lives. 


Another element I loved was the sharing of the haikus and drawings which seemed like ways in which they processed their journey and grief. It adds a whole other dimension to their narrative and was a fantastic way to share in the experiences that they had on this journey. 


You really do get enveloped in the story, and I have a whole new outlook on how other people might navigate their own moments with dying and grief. It has made me really think about how I would like to start my own conversation about death and how to approach my own life story.    


I marvel at the way in which Alison has managed to share a very personal and heart-breaking experience but has made me, the reader, feel love within the family. I also felt joy from the heart-warming anecdotes, emotional and sad all at once. What a journey.  


My final note about this book is, I could not understand how the title related to the story, which only added to my intrigue, but by the end it is made very clear. It is a truly remarkable title, taken from a key moment that fully embodies the main character.  


If you would like to read Absolutely Delicious you can find it here  


Reading Group Questions 


What do you think are the main themes of the book? 


Do you feel the same way at the beginning of the book as you do at the end? What’s changed? 


What has been the emotional impact of this book and why? 


Did this book remind you of anything else you have read? How does it compare? 


Was there anything in the book you found challenging? 


What was your favourite part of the book? 


Was there anything you didn’t like about the book? 


 Did you empathise with or relate to any character in the book? Why? 


If you had the chance to ask the author of this book one question, what would it be? 


If you had to meet a character from the book for a coffee who would you choose and why? 


Did you learn anything new from reading this book? 


Is there anything further you would want to investigate/research/act on after reading this book? 


Why do you think the author chose to write this story? 


Have you had a big conversation with someone after reading this? 


Were there any passages or lines from the book that were especially compelling? 

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