by Sandy Fox

I just got done reading The Knitting Circle, Ann Hood’s moving account of how a grieving mother survives the loss of her only daughter from an illness. Although the book is fictional, it parallels Hood’s own loss of her daughter and how joining a knitting circle saved her life. This book was written before her latest book, “Comfort” which I reviewed a while back, but is well-worth the sitting down in a comfortable chair and reading.

It is a book that is simple in its words, understandable in it’s grief and acutely moving as it shows you Mary Baxter, the main character, unraveling in the year following the loss of her daughter. I found myself unable to put the book down. It was not only because of the story plot, which moved relentlessly along, but also because I could identify with her feelings, her emotions and her actions as she plotted along day after day, keeping to herself mostly.

Anyone who has lost a child for any reason will be able to identify in some part with this book and what Mary goes through that first year as well as those who have had other types of loses. I say ‘identify in some part’ because there was a point where I wanted to yell at Mary, “All right, enough is enough, get out of bed, try to help yourself, try to move on.” That is where the book napped a little, but what kept it going for me were the stories Mary hears from the other women in her knitting circle as they all eventually open up to her while teaching her new knitting techniques.

The knitting circle becomes Mary’s grief group as each person in the group reveals their darkest secrets. Knitting is the tie that binds these women together and helps them move towards healing their deepest scars.

They say that when you help someone else, you end up helping yourself. This is what I believe happens to Mary in the book and it is the reason to keep reading. As Mary drags herself to the knitting sessions, she learns of the other women’s tragedies, albeit different but no less horrible than her own. One can see the comparison of the unraveling of the stories to the unrolling of a bulk of yarn that is to be knitted.

You are always routing for her. I’d say to Mary as I read, “Come on, Mary, do something about your situation. I felt many of the same feelings you are feeling, but perhaps I was lucky. I was able to accept what happened, not happily you understand, but with the knowledge that sometimes life tests you to see how strong you are. And sometimes you pass the test while other times it is too hard for you.” I rooted for Mary to find her way, to realize the importance of telling her own story to others as part of her healing process and to realize the knitting circle would change her life.

Without revealing the end of the book, just know that this is a good read and one that will keep you engrossed the entire time. Perhaps we should all learn to knit as a way to calm our nerves, our heart and our lives.

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Sandy Fox

Sandy Fox has won four finalist awards for her recent book "Creating a New Normal...After the Death of a Child" with over 80 coping articles and a huge resource section. One award is from USA Book News in the Health/Death and Dying Category for 2010. The second award is from ForeWord Reviews in the Health Category for 2010. The third is from Royal Dragonfly Book Awards. The most recent finalist award is for the self-help category of the 2011 Indie Book Awards. She is also the author of another grief book, "I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye." “I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye” tells the stories of 25 sets of parents and how they moved on with their lives after the death of their child, offering hope and survival techniques. Sandy has headed two national bereavement conferences for childless parents and spoken for many years at Compassionate Friends National conferences, POMC and across the U.S. to a variety of bereavement groups. She also writes articles for the Open to Hope site, EZ articles, and Journey through grief newsletter in addition to her own weekly blog: Sandy can be contacted at to set up any speaking engagements or to ask any questions related to surviving the death of a child. Sandy was a guest on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart“ discussing: “I have no intention of Saying Good-Bye: Coping Techniques for the Now Childless.” To hear Sandy being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link:

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