Review: The Death Class: a true story about life by Erika Hayasaki

The Death Class Cover

While I have written other reviews in preparation for blogging, as soon as I started reading “The Death Class” by Erika Hayasaki I knew it had to be my first posted review.

First off, it is a terrific read.  Hayasaki is an award-winning journalist and you can tell by how she immerses you in each scene.  I was on the edge of my seat as I read the opening account of her friend’s murder in high school.

The structure of the book is equally compelling and pulls you along effortlessly.  Hayasaki starts by simply shadowing Norma Bowe as she attends her Perspectives in Death and Dying class, but is so engrossed that she ends up following Bowe for four years.  The book shares the powerful stories of a handful of Bowe’s students so that not only do we have Hayasaki’s story, but those of Bowe and her students as well. These stories include a young woman dealing with her mother’s drug addiction, her boyfriend facing the schizophrenia running through his family, a young man escaping from his gang, and a homeless teenager changing her destiny.  So, as you can imagine, emotional and hard to put down while reading!  

Each chapter ends with a thought-provoking class assignment that you the reader can do, and the response of one of the protagonists. I have been working on these assignments on my own and may share them with you as the blog goes along.  Perhaps we can do them together?

Secondly, end of life issues and “perspectives in death and dying” has been a passion of mine for about a decade.  I can’t explain why a normal 20-something would find the subject so fascinating, but there it is.  I have been a hospice volunteer for the past 2 years and recently participated in a train-the-trainer course on helping people write their medical directives.

This blog will be a merging of these two passions of mine: reading memoirs about the experiences of people’s lives, and exploring end of life issues about how people reconcile how they lived with how they want to die.

I hope that you will enjoy reading this blog and help to make it a dynamic conversation about three fascinating subjects: good books, good lives and good deaths.  

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