O, The Oprah Magazine

“An achingly moving memoir…unusually intelligent and emotional.”

—Sara Nelson

The Los Angeles Times

“[The Long Goodbye is] a secular ceremony, one that memorializes the mother’s best aspects, her daughter’s effort to be present throughout her decline and the terrible, common burden of being the person who continues to live.”


Boston Globe

“[O’Rourke] intended for The Long Goodbye to be both her story and a philosophical investigation into grief and mourning. In this she achieved success, crafting an intelligent, heart-laden narrative that brilliantly demonstrates that ‘if the condition of grief is nearly universal, its transactions are exquisitely personal’…O’Rourke has written a beautiful elegy. She celebrates her mother and movingly meditates on the knotty mystery of grief. At the end of the day, The Long Goodbye gives voice to the ineffable idea that our dead live beyond our rituals and ‘ceremonious designation.'”


The New York Times Book Review

“The Long Goodbye is O’Rourke’s anguished, beautifully written chronicle of that passage, from the innocence of a relatively privileged life to the wider and more desolate country that great loss imposes…O’Rourke captures that emotional violence with elegant candor…The Long Goodbye is an elegiac depiction of a drama as old as life, wherein the mother’s first job is to raise a daughter strong enough to outlast her.”


San Francisco Chronicle

“Penetrating…There is a bracing frankness to O’Rourke’s reminiscences…O’Rourke’s thoughtful curation is held neatly together by her own insights…The weightiness of O’Rourke’s subject matter is leavened by her insight and wry humor. An elegant and erudite treatment of grief, O’Rourke reaches out to the bereaved and unbereaved alike.”


The Washington Post

“[The Long Goodbye] evokes the universalities of love and pain. We feel our own grief, past and potential, as O’Rourke grapples with hers…[she] capitalizes on her background as a poet, sprinkling her prose with imagery and metaphor to capture sensations ranging from the perfection of a summer evening in Vermont to the embrace of her mother under the flowering branches of a weeping cherry tree….Scientific studies of people in mourning, literature (“Hamlet,” in particular) and the accounts of other authors all help O’Rourke understand the grief that often leaves her feeling abnormal and alone. Now her book can provide similar comfort for others.”


The Paris Review

“A beautiful memoir about a daughter’s love for her mother.”


The New York Review of Books

“A tour de force et tristesse…[O’Rourke’s] mother emerges less as a rough sketch and more as a completed portrait, a lively and memorable person.”

—Lorrie Moore


The New York Times

“Meghan O’Rourke is a talented young poet and critic… there’s bravery in her naked declarations.”



“Meghan O’Rourke opens her memoir, The Long Goodbye, with a quote from Iris Murdoch: ‘The bereaved cannot communicate with the unbereaved.’ Though certainly O’Rourke identified with the line, the book that follows proves she took it as a challenge — an assertion to disprove, not one to affirm. And O’Rourke is up to the task; all she does is communicate — with emotional immediacy and relentless candor.…She poetically situates her own grief within a larger examination of mourning rituals in contemporary American life, or rather the lack of mourning rituals in contemporary American life.”



“Piercingly candid.”


Kansas City Star

“O’Rourke combines research and reflection to excavate the commonalities of death and grief, burrowing deep into the maternal bond as well…we are all the richer for the enlightenment she offers.”


The New York Observer

“O’Rourke moves deftly between recording her particular experience of disorientation and loneliness and analyzing our general cultural obsession with accepting loss—letting go, moving on—and intolerance for prolonged or complicated sadness… [she] writes passionately and intelligently about losing and feeling lost.”


Minnesota Star Tribune

“A first-rate writer and clear-headed thinker, O’Rourke has written a powerful and compelling memoir, valuable to readers on both sides of bereavement’s stark dividing line.”



“Bracing and beautiful.”


The Brooklyn Rail

“A memoir of distinction, raised above the heap by its method of universalizing a personal ordeal through historical and cultural perspectives. The language itself raises it above the crowd.”


Booklist, Starred review

“Rare elegance and poignancy…Accompanying O’Rourke on this trek through her valley of grief and seeing how she flounders in the midst of a culture that offers scant support for mourners provides a kind of comfort that only a kindred spirit (who can write fantastically well) can. Every tear-stained page is not a road map, but rather a lovely gift from a fellow-traveler.”


Kirkus, Starred review

“Staggeringly intimate…a strong voice and hyperawareness…O’Rourke’s candor allows her work to far transcend the imitators…An unflinching, cathartic memoir.”


Publishers Weekly, Starred review

“Eloquent…O’Rourke ponders the eternal human question: how do we live with the knowledge that we will one day die?”

"Provides a kind of comfort
that only a kindred spirit (who
can write fantastically well) can.
Every tear-stained page is not a
road map, but rather a lovely
gift from a fellow traveler."

-Booklist, Starred review