Monday night I started Tanya Chernov’s A Real Emotional Girl, A Memoir of Love and Loss.
Tuesday I spent most of the day reading it through to the end.
It is the very personal and very honest recounting of Tanya’s ten-year attempt to come to terms with the loss of her wonderful father Richard Chernov and her painful attempts to find a place in the world without him.
Whether others will find this memoir as emotional wrenching, as insightful, and as wonderful as I did, I honestly don’t know.
I hope so. I think it’s outstanding.
Know that I know the characters in Tanya’s just published book.
Richard Chernov, her father, is one of the most wonderful persons I have ever known. He is a former lawyer who became a summer camp director and created Birch Trail Camp for Girls, where my daughters and many, many young girls have spent some of the most memorable and important summers of their lives. Tanya will tell you why he was so wonderful. She sees him clearly, and the man she describes is the man I knew.
Barbara Chernov, her mother, is Richard’s long time partner in everything he did. While she plays a smaller role in this memoir, the person Tanya describes is the person I also know.
Dylan and Gabe are her two older brothers. I don’t know either of them very well, but from what I do know of them and from what Tanya writes, Richard and Barbara did a terrific job parenting them.
Tanya herself is the youngest of the three Chernov children and the only girl. She is about 16 when Richard is first diagnosed with cancer and the book covers approximately the next 10+ years of her life (and that of her family too).
Many of the current and not so current memoirs written by women about loss have been about the loss of their fathers, mothers, or husbands. I have not read much where a child, an adolescent, a young woman has written about this kind of loss.
And for me, that is the wonderful thing about A Real Emotional Girl. Tanya has taken us (and I hope others who do not know the Chernovs or Birch Trail) on her painful and loving odyssey following the loss of her father and on the search for herself.
If you read it, do let me, others know what you think.
janet miller brown said:
Sounds like a must read for me!
mother and/or father ?
Liz Frost said:
Lizzy is having a difficult time dealing with Larry’s death. Thank you for the review of the book.
I too found it riveting. I have known the Chernov family since I was a child at BT Camp for Girls. Tanya was a young child when I first attended camp. This book brought back so many memories for me of Richard, Barbara, Dylan, Gabe, and Tanya and some of the original staff that were mentioned in her journey. She recreated the BT experience perfectly. Additionally, as a clinical psychologist in my grown-up life, I think her psychological insight is astounding. She is brutally honest in admitting the hardships she went through and her journey in finding the bridge to the other side. This book is a must read!