Michael Rosen’s Sad Book (With Summary)

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michael rosen sad book

Title: Sad Book
Author: Michael Rosen
Originally Published: 2004
Language: English
Genre: Graphic Novel


Michael Rosen’s Sad Book brings to the issue of loss a number of distinctive characteristics that few other works do. Written through the prism of Michael Rosen’s personal painful experience, “Sad Book” effectively conveys the author’s great anguish following the death of his son Eddie. Michael makes no attempt to explain the cause of death, and it is irrelevant once he has invited us into his achingly colorless world. He has a way of catching our hearts and pulling us along with him as he goes about his daily life. His sadness is evident, and we understand how devastating the death of a child is.

“Sometimes because I’m sad I do bad things.”

The most difficult aspect of “Sad Book” is Michael’s transparency. He acknowledges, “Sometimes I do bad things because I’m sad.” I’m not going to tell you what they are. They’re terrible. It’s also not fair to the cat.” I began to sense his pain, the cat’s pain, and my own pain. The book is not a “here’s what you can do to move on” book, though he does offer the reader four daily activities that make him feel a little better. It’s also not about Eddie, his son.

“I just want to disappear.”

Rosen makes no attempt to tie up a predictable ending because he knows that loss has no end. Eddie will never return. Instead, Michael shows us how he deals with a single aspect of life that he still enjoys – birthdays. These remind him not only of Eddie’s birthdays, but also of joyful birthdays that are a part of life and continue to happen around him. They are an appropriate metaphor because a complete cake full of lit candles is both a dazzling remembrance and a reminder of life’s bright lights passing on. It’s also a means for Michael to look towards the brilliant light in his mind’s gloomy tunnel.

Michael expresses his anguish through his work with cartoonist Quentin Blake. He clearly and urgently needs to communicate (and demonstrate) the reader what life has become for him as a father whose child has died. It’s the kind of book that will have a different impact on each reader.

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