#84 ~ Regina’s Closet

July 9, 2008 at 10:14 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, Family, LIfe, Reading | 9 Comments
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Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal by Diana M. Raab

If ever there was a granddaughter who loved her grandmother, Diana M. Raab is that granddaughter. In her book, she lovingly weaves a memorial to her grandmother Regina through her own remembrances as the precious journal Raab’s mother found in the closet, decades after Regina’s suicide. Without judgment or justification the author allows her grandmother to tell the story of her childhood and early adulthood. When outside historical or family information could be found, Raab filled in some of the gaps, but what was especially poignant was how Regina’s journal brought her grandmother to life for her.

Diana M. Raab was 10 years old the day that her grandmother committed suicide. She discovered her grandmother’s body in bed when she went to her to ask if she could go out. She was home alone. What a terrifying experience for a young child. To exacerbate that, she didn’t discover the truth behind the death until she over heard her mother whispering to friends. There is no way that such an experience couldn’t leave a lasting impact on one’s life. It seems that it caused Raab to be a strong, loving woman. Although her own parents were distant, she went on to raise a close knit family with three children. It was only after she read Regina’s journal that she discovered from where her fortitude, her writing skills, and her nurturing love for her children came.

I read this book in less than a day. Regina’s story along with the author’s incites were compelling and freshly written. Often when a person commits suicide, that is how they are remembered or talked about. Raab gives life to her grandmother’s entire story in Regina’s Closet. Reading this book made me think about my Uncle Randy, who committed suicide exactly one week after my 21st birthday – on his father’s 75th birthday. Randy had been very sick for a very long time before he died. I wish that he had left a journal or something to reassure my grandfather that his suicide was not my grandfather’s fault or a final punishment for something he did. Survivors, in my experience, blame themselves a thousand times over for what happened. Rarely do they stop to consider that while they were the ones who had to pick up the pieces, this wasn’t about them at all. Raab even expands on that concept. Upon reflection she discovered that Regina gave her a gift after her death – a beautiful relationship between Diana and her grandfather Samuel. Where there is death, there is new life.

I would highly recommend Regina’s Closet to everyone. Although Regina did commit suicide, there is a rich history in the story. Much of the book takes place in Eastern Europe, and tells the story of lonely and unloved young girl growing up in a Jewish family scrambling to survive World War I and the beginnings of World War II. What was simply a journal Regina kept during those years became a treasure for the author, who wrote a love letter in return. Simply beautiful.

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To purchase this book, click here.  Diana M. Raab is donating the proceeds from Regina’s Closet to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. When you buy this book, you’ll also be helping to prevent suicides. You get a great book and a donation is made to a great cause. What could be better than that?

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