A slyly funny coming-of-age novel about a young woman fumbling her way into the mysteries of loss and the travails of adulthood as she tries to make sense of a vanished mother's legacy.
When twenty-two-year-old Olivia learned that her mother had only months to live, she pulled up roots, leaving Vassar and her career plans far behind to be with her mother for her last days. And yet just four months after her mother’s death, everyone in Olivia’s family seems ready to move on. Her brothers are settled comfortably in careers and families of their own; her father has already begun to date again, inviting a woman named June on a family trip Olivia originally planned with her mother. Still reeling from the loss, Olivia looks for a new start of her own, throwing herself headlong into Manhattan’s fast-moving media world, where she is alternately demeaned by bosses and pursued by men.
But as Olivia tries to piece together an adulthood without her mother to guide her, she makes a shocking discovery: a secret romantic correspondence her mother had with a man who only signed each letter “F.” As she tries to untangle the mystery of F, Olivia will journey halfway across the world, to an ashram in rural India, on a quest that will reconfigure everything she thought she knew about her family and her own place in an increasingly complex world.
A profoundly moving and keenly observed contemplation of the debts we owe to the past and the ways we discover our futures, Alternative Remedies for Loss is the rare sort of book that can break and mend your heart in a single and unforgettable read.
"With a delightfully imperfect heroine, vibrant settings, and snappy dialogue, this is a whip-smart debut."
PRAISE FOR "ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR LOSS"
"A sharp and witty glimpse inside a functionally dysfunctional family, Cantor’s first novel is heartbreakingly honest. Fans of Helen Fielding, Emma Straub, and Maggie Shipstead will appreciate Olivia’s zest for life and capacity for personal growth. With a delightfully imperfect heroine, vibrant settings, and snappy dialogue, this is a whip-smart debut."
“In Joanna Cantor's first novel, a young woman grieving her mother finds herself grappling with an unexpected secondary loss: her sense of her place in the world. So begins Olivia's quest for solace and purpose, a journey that will lead her through toxic love affairs and Indian ashrams and places in between. Funny and sad, sharp and true, Alternative Remedies for Loss kept me reading late into the night, riveted by the unfolding of a life.”
—Maggie Shipstead, best-selling author of SEATING ARRANGEMENTS and ASTONISH ME
“Alternative Remedies for Loss is a tender, juicy novel about family, failures, and finding one's place in the world. Bright, unpredictable Olivia captures perfectly what it feels like to be young and searching, all while caught in the psychic whirlpool of grief. Get ready to fly through this book, and be prepared for Cantor's prose to charm and surprise you the whole way.”
—Molly Prentiss, author of TUESDAY NIGHTS IN 1980
“A young woman reeling from her mother's death. A father who has moved on too soon. A mysterious lover living continents away. From these strands, Joanna Cantor has woven a beautiful tapestry. Alternative Remedies for Loss is wise, moving, and funny. It's a compelling, memorable debut.”
—Joshua Henkin, author of MATRIMONY
“With this sharp and lovely debut, Joanna Cantor weaves a spell of what it feels like to be unmoored by grief but also by the mysterious process of becoming an adult. This is a sexy, smart and subtly moving book about youth and loss and, ultimately, grace.”
—Joanna Hershon, author of SWIMMING
“Cantor's debut is a sharp, unflinching, and entire study of a life as it changes.”
—Rebecca Dinerstein, author of THE SUNLIT NIGHT