This Beautifully Burdened Life
A book review of The Price of Admission—Embracing a Life of Grief and Joy By Liz Petrone
I knew at the young age of 10. I wanted to be a writer. I knew nothing of money or career; I just knew I found such joy in expressing myself through words—lots and lots of words. But as our society often does, I was discouraged from following my dream because you can’t make a living writing. So instead, I spent almost two decades doing what other people wanted me to until a few years ago. A few years ago, a friend introduced me to Her View From Home, an online publication. The Her View From Home team saw value in my work and invited me into the most supportive group of women I have ever experienced. This community of writers has become my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—a diverse group of women with a shared goal of encouraging and lifting one another. I have built friendships and made connections with some incredible writers—one of whom is author Liz Petrone.
I had seen fellow writers raving about her book, The Price of Admission—Embracing a Life of Grief and Joy—so when Liz asked for volunteers to read her book and write a review, I jumped at the chance. Disclosure: in exchange for an objective review, I was given a copy of the book for free. The fact that the book was free has no bearing on the content of this review.
The sleeve of Liz’s book describes her as “a suicide survivor and a recovering anorexic who found unprecedented support and community in telling intimate stories that speak to the lessons learned in survival and recovery. Today, she’s an author, blogger, speaker, and survivor. She lives in a creaky old house in Syracuse, New York, with her ever-patient husband, their four children, and an excitable dog named Beau.” I describe Liz as a kindred spirit, a beautiful soul who, like myself, went through hard things and has learned to get back up—time and time again.
Although it is not ideal for an author to release a book in the middle of a pandemic full of shutdowns, I must say that for me, the timing was perfect. Being isolated for the past year has left me feeling so alone. While I’ve engaged with friends through texts, social media, and zoom—it’s all been rather surface-level. Reading The Price of Admission felt like that intimate one-on-one I’ve been missing. While I have yet to meet Liz in person, her writing style felt like a genuine conversation between longtime friends. I felt like Liz and I were curled up in our respective warm blankets, sitting on the couch sipping on wine and sharing stories from the beautifully burdened lives we are living.
“On the surface, Liz Petrone looks as if she has it all: a family, a budding writing career, a successful marriage. But, like so many women, she is desperately lonely. She’s also dealing with the life and death of her alcoholic mother and the ghosts of her own suicidal past.
The Price of Admission takes us on a journey with Liz from loss into renewed life. Raw, unflinchingly honest and surprisingly funny, Liz writes from a universally understood place of struggle, whether that is the deep darkness of grief or the hazy, yet joyful, dimness of demanding everyday lives spent caring for our families.
Through a combination of personal narrative and common truths, Liz provides a timeless reminder to world-weary readers that, just as birth follows death, light does indeed follow darkness; and that, often, it is because of our pain—and not despite it—that we grow, survive, and, yes, thrive.” --Liz Petrone
So often, Liz’s words moved me. One moment I would find myself in tears, and the next, with perfect comedic timing, she’d have me in stitches. Her words caused me to pause and reflect, too. Liz imparts some powerful wisdom in this memoir and does so with her gift of storytelling. In fact, one of my favorite things about The Price of Admission is the way Liz can take a simple story or memory from her past and use it to illustrate a point in the here-and-now. Her ability to pull the reader into her story so that they are left pondering and reflecting on what it means for them is an exceptional talent. The stories and illustrations, even days later, continue to stay with me—helping me to see things in a new light and with a fresh perspective.
While I have not lost my mother, I can relate to Liz’s difficult relationship with hers. And while I do not know the grief that comes with the loss of a parent, I can relate in that I have a parent absent from my life. I can relate to the struggle of having expectations for our parents that they can’t seem to live up to or just aren’t capable of living up to. I can relate to the brokenness Liz shares in her adolescence and early twenties and how it follows her around for years. I understand that feeling of cautiously waiting for the other shoe to fall and knowing that at any moment, you could slip back into those old ways. And I can relate to being in the stage of life where I am experiencing the beautiful blessing of having a family of my own and knowing that if it weren’t for all the heartbreak, I wouldn’t be where I am today—able to embrace the joy and the grief that came with it.
The Price of Admission is an honest, real reminder that we are never alone—while we may come from different backgrounds, we can find commonality in the struggle and the resiliency within us.