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Wren’s closest friend, her anchor since childhood, is dead. Stewart Beasley. Gone. She can’t quite believe it and she definitely can’t bring herself to look up the symptoms of an aneurysm. Instead of weeping, Wren’s been dreaming up the perfect funeral plans, memorial buffets, and processional songs for everyone from the corner bodega owner to her parents (none of whom show any signs of imminent demise).
Stewart was a rising television star, who—for reasons Wren struggles to comprehend—often surrounded himself with sycophantic and questionable characters, amusing in his life, but intolerable in his death. When his icy mother assigns Wren the task of sorting through and disseminating his possessions alongside George (Stewart’s maddening, but oddly charming lawyer), she finds herself at the epicenter of a world in which she wants no part, a world where everyone wants to own a piece of Stewart’s memory and claim a stake in both his life and his death.
Remembering the boy Stewart was and investigating the man he became, Wren finds herself wondering, did she even know this person who she once considered an extension of herself? Can you ever really know anyone? Will the real Stewart Beasley please stand up?
Ultimately, in pursuit of acceptance, Wren discovers that her own true identity may be just as obscure as her friend’s. How did she land here? How much of her own reality has she been walking through blind?
Competitive Grieving is a dark, touching comedy—and unlikely love story—about loss and the chaotic aftermath of death. It takes an honest look at the universal struggle to tune out the noise and grieve, to love in the face of loss, and to yearn to truly know someone who is gone forever.
A Note From the Publisher
“Is it strange to find a book about loss such a joyous affirmation of what makes life worth the struggle? With her irrepressible wit and warmth, Zelevansky perfectly captures the vortex that follows a shocking loss, while also reminding us that even on the hardest days there is always the possibility of finding redemption, forgiveness, and even love.”
-Nicola Kraus, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Nanny Diaries
“How do we handle grief? When Wren’s touchstone friend dies, she’s unmoored, and even more so when she begins to wonder if she really knew her beloved friend as well as she thought she did. And that makes her wonder: how well does she know herself? Darkly funny and deeply moving, about love, loss and the transformative power of grief.”
-Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and With or Without You
“With a satisfying blend of warmth and irreverence, Nora Zelevansky explores grief as both a private struggle and a public performance. Several of these characters began to feel like my good friends—the rest, like my enemies. Competitive Grieving is a sharply-observed comedy about the complexity of friendship and the finality of death.”
-Emily Adrian, author of Everything Here Is under Control and The Second Season
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