• Deepthi Rajan

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder Is One Memorable Party You’ll Cherish for a Long Time

Updated: Mar 20



I’m a huge fan of graphic novels because the visual illustrations are such vivid accompaniments to the words, and more often than not, trigger strong connections with the characters and the plots of such books.


And so, it was with happy anticipation that I began to read Dancing at the pity party.


And it didn’t disappoint.


A gorgeously illustrated graphic novel, Dancing at the pity party has been both drawn and written by Tyler Feder, chronicling Tyler’s life with her mother who passed away at the age of 47 due to cancer.


Which means that the story of how Tyler dealt with the various stages of grief, as her mother’s death loomed large over her and her family, is bound to evoke a range of emotions as you read the book.


The Portrait


Let me clarify though, this book isn’t entirely about sadness.


Because Dancing at the pity party is Tyler’s charming ode to her beautiful mother who lived a short yet fulfilling life.


True, losing a parent is one of the toughest experiences one can endure. But Dancing at the pity party is also a wonderful celebration of the life that Tyler’s mom lived and had created for her family.


Tyler does such a fabulous job of describing her mother, what she liked, disliked, what she was passionate about, that by the end of the book, you feel you know Rhonda Feder really well yourself.


And that’s a hallmark of a great book – when you find yourself viscerally connecting with those whose stories inhabit the book.


Culture


Tyler has also shared some brilliant insights into Jewish culture, customs, and traditions.


Learning about new things is something I look forward to when I’m reading.


And Tyler does a great job, weaving her Jewish heritage into the narrative.


Dos and Don'ts


Death is uncomfortable.


Even the most well-meaning people don’t know how to comfort those who are grieving the death of a loved one. Most are lost for words and often end up realizing how ridiculous their innocuous questions such as “How are you?” are to those who are mourning.


Tyler shares, from her own experience of having awkward conversations at her mother’s funeral, several dos and don’ts for those who are confused about how to console and offer solace during such difficult times.




The Introvert



The other thing that I connected deeply with was how Tyler, who is a hardcore introvert, struggles to cope with her grief. While she’s crumbling inside, she still puts up a brave, stoic front in front of her friends and classmates so that she could spare them from having to deal with the extreme emotions she’s grappling with deep inside her.


As an introvert myself, I could relate to her need to put others and their comfort ahead of her own. Being the centre of attention, especially in a crowd, is a feeling we introverts can go to great lengths to avoid. Even during the most turbulent times of our lives.


Throughout Dancing at the pity party, Tyler’s genius shines through, as she takes the reader through her inner journey, which is a riot of emotions and colours. What’s not to love about such a book!



The Strongest of all Bonds


This is the second book I have finished reading this week and coincidentally, the first book that I read was also about a mother-daughter relationship.


To me I believe the universe, through these books, is sending a simple reminder, to appreciate and revere your parents while you have one another. It’s a message we sometimes forget in the hustle and bustle of our daily struggles.



Reading Dancing at the pity party is guaranteed to fill you up with gratitude for your parents and siblings, and how meaningful our existence is because we have them in our lives.


Highly recommended for all sensitive and compassionate souls who have loved and lost because, to quote the famous poet Alfred Lord Tennyson,

'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

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