Book Review-Let’s Take the Long Way Home

Let’s Take the Long Way Home
Gail Caldwell

This is the book I wish I had written after my friend died, and I’m sharing this book review on what would have been her 45th birthday. It is a chronicle of grief and friendship. It is beautiful and heartbreaking. You’ll be privileged to learn how these two met, how they spent their days together, Caroline’s diagnosis, illness, and death, and how Gail copes with the death of her best friend.

Every time I read this book, I cry. I know what is going to happen. On the very first page, we read, “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything , and then she died and so we shared that too.” I hope you’ll read this book. I hope you’ll read this book with a friend or a book group. I hope reading this book will inspire you to reach out to those you love and tell them how much they mean to you. I hope this book will remind you that death is part of life and even though it is hard, we do not need to fear death. I hope you’ll read this book and encourage other people to read it too.

“The belief that life was hard and often its worst battles were fought in private; it was possible to walk through fear and come out scorched but still breathing” (78).

“It’s taken years for me to understand that dying doesn’t end the story; it transforms it” (123).

“The only education in grief that any of us get is a crash course. Until Caroline died I had belonged to that other world, the place of innocence and linear expectations, where I thought grief was a simple, wrenchingly realm of sadness and longing that gradually recede. What that definition left out was the body blow that loss inflicts, as well as the temporary madness, and a range of less straightforward emotions shocking in their intensity” (150).

“I found myself doubting or dismissing the intensity of our friendship, as though I could discard the love and therefore skip the pain. This worked for about twenty minutes, or until I would say to someone we both knew, ‘Oh well, maybe we weren’t that close,’ and the listener would burst out laughing. I started trying to remember all the things I didn’t like about her. There weren’t very many” (153).

“I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder creatures” (182).

These last two quotes remind me of my dear friend, Kristi, who died when she was only 39 and who would have turned 45 today. No longer do I attempt to dismiss or diminish the intensity of our connection, there is no point. And even though she has been dead for 5 1/2 years, I am not over her death. As long as I live, I will be holding on to the memories we made and working to make the world a kinder, more fun, and more eco-friendly place.


  1. SusannahDB

    You are welcome. It was a privilege to know your sister and be welcomed into your fabulous family. I am grateful.

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