New York Times and USA Today Bestselling novelist, screenwriter, editor, namer, critic, movie addict and chocoholic
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Carolyn Roy-Bornstein talks about Crash, grief, gratitude, family, and more
Crash: A Mother, a Son, and the Journey from Grief to Gratitude is Carolyn Roy-Bornstein's haunting memoir of how her life changed after her 17-year-old son Neil was hit by a teenaged drunk driver while walking his girlfriend home. Faced with such a shattering event, she became an expert in traumatic brain injury, even as she grapples with her son's memory loss and changed personality. I'm honored to have her here writing about her experience. Thank you so much, Carolyn.
Ten years ago my son Neil, then 17,
sustained a traumatic brain injury at the hands of a drunk hit-and-run driver
in a crash that killed his girlfriend. Five years ago, I started writing a book
about it. Last month, Crash: A Mother, a
Son, and the Journey from Grief to Gratitude was published by Globe Pequot
My parents would have been very proud of
their youngest daughter. Unfortunately they didn’t live to see me become a
published author. Then again, they also didn’t live to experience Neil’s
accident, which might well have killed them on the spot. My in-laws also did
not live to see the book come to fruition. My father-in-law died before his son
and I were even married (though he did tell me on his death-bed that he knew I
would be a good wife to his son, which I hope I have been.)My mother-in-law knew I had finished
writing the book, but passed away before I had found a home for it.
So as I give book readings and interviews,
I think about my parents and parents-in-law a lot. I wish they were all alive
to see me read, watch me on TV or hear me on the radio. I know my father would
be bragging to all his golf buddies about his author-daughter. There is no love
more unconditional than a dad’s for his little girl. And my mother-in-law Sylvia
would still be non-stop kvelling.)
There is a Hebrew phrase L’dor Vador which
means “from generation to generation.” This phrase comes during the part of the
Jewish Sabbath service where we all are instructed to teach our children about
our religion. But I have used it in my daily life as a mantra, a kind of
short-hand for what I believe in: the power of family.
So now as I give readings and interviews,
I may not be able to bring that previous generation of family with me. But I
try to do the next best thing. On my pub date, I exchanged my mother’s wedding
ring for my own. Curling my fingers around the gold band carved with flowers, I
felt her presence with me. For my book launch party and my first TV interview,
I wore the beautiful suits my very chic mother-in-law bought me many years ago.
They are not out of style because she was such a visionary fasionista. I try to
wrap myself in the love I know they would have showered on me is they were
here. And I think: L’dor Vador.
Stay tuned, THIS OTHER LIFE has sold to Algonquin, my beloved publisher and I am busy writing it now. My 11th novel CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD is an Indie Next Pick. IS THIS TOMORROW was an May Indie Pick. I'm also the New York Times bestselling author of PICTURES OF YOU, a San Francisco Chronicle Lit Pick, a Costco "Pennie's Pick." a NAIBA bestseller and on the Best Books of 2011 List from San Francisco Chronicle, Providence Journal, Kirkus Reviews and Bookmarks Magazine. I'm the recipient of a New York Foundation of the Arts Grant in Fiction. I was a 2013 finalist in the Sundance Screenwriting Lab and a finalist in the Nickelodeon Screenwriting Fellowship, four of my novels were optioned for screen, and I talked my way into writing the script for two of them. My essay, HIgh Infidelity, has been optioned for film. I'm a book critic for The San Francisco Chronicle and People Magazine. I teach novel writing for UCLA Extension Writers' Program, and Stanford online, do private fiction editing, and I am a professional namer! I live with my husband, writer/editor Jeff Tamarkin and we beam with pride about our son, an actor/filmmaker in college. Visit me at http://www.carolineleavitt.com.