About a month ago I came across the book I am going to review today titled, The George Before Me on my Twitter feed. The George Before Me is a picture book written by Jessica Carnevale Forcier that was inspired by the author’s grandfather, Grandpa George. I was immediately drawn to the book because of the unique topic of the story. About 11 years, I lost my father in law to a tragic car crash and he never got to meet my children. My father in law was a sweet and loving man that was vibrant, smart and passionate. From when my children were very young, my husband and I have tried to keep his memory alive by talking about him, having pictures of him around the house, telling stories about him, etc. My daughter is also named after him.
This book, The George Before Me was such a beautiful way to keep a loved one memories alive. The book begins with the text “My name is George. I’m named after my Grandpa. His name was George too. He as the George before me.” This picture and text sets the stage for a beautiful story about Grandpa George and what his passions were. Through his passions, the young boy in the story can feel connected to his grandfather. At the end of the story, I felt like I already knew Grandpa George and was impressed with the warmth that radiated from the story. I knew that the author was heartfelt and had a true passion and connection with her grandfather to create such a story.
I wanted to ask Jessica about her book and some questions about the best way to keep a loved ones memories alive after they are gone. This is a topic that many of us may struggle with because everyone deals with loss in different ways. Thank you Jessica for your beautiful story and contribution. To check out Jessica’s website and to learn more about her, her books and Grandpa George, click here.
My Grandfather George was the single greatest influence in my life. Sadly, he passed away when my oldest son was an infant. I quickly realized I couldn’t imagine a world where my son (or any future children) did not know him, or understand how influential he was in my life and by extension theirs. Since I am a writer, it felt only natural that I write a book as an homage to him. Not only that, but I wanted to write a book that opens up dialogue between parents and children about death and to also highlight the fact that it is possible to feel connected to a deceased family member even if you never met him or her or were young when he/she passed away.
Your book is such a wonderful dedication to your father. What would you like children to learn most from your book?
I want children to learn that although someone isn’t physically present in their lives, they can feel deeply connected to him or her. I also want to encourage children to share their feelings about a loved one passing away and emphasize that they can find beauty, comfort and joy in the act of keeping their loved one’s memory alive.
At what age do you begin explaining the passing of a loved one?
I think it really depends on the situation and a family’s personal beliefs. In my experience, I believe it’s important to tackle the topic head on even if it’s in the most basic of terms. Kids are remarkably perceptive and will feel the loss even if they don’t outwardly express it. It can be useful to seek guidance from a psychologist, chaplain, etc. when deciding how to discuss the situation with your kids in an age appropriate manner. Nevertheless, whether a loved one passed away before a child is born or after, I encourage families to continue to make that loved one a presence in their everyday lives. I do this by keeping pictures of that person around the house, sharing anecdotes about him or her and passing down traditions that were generated by that loved one.
Jessica Carnevale Forcier is the author of THE GEORGE BEFORE ME (2017) and the MOXIE THE ROBOT GIRL series (Bedtime Stories- Read & Tell App 2017).She is a former Study Abroad Advisor who escaped the world of academia to write full-time and is loving every second of it. Jessica has been a writer for as long as she can remember and one of her earliest memories is writing a story about an opera singing thief. It became a family favorite, and solidified her passion for writing. As an adult, she continues to entertain audiences with spunky characters and memorable tales. It is her sole mission to take nuggets of the human experience and weave them into engaging stories that leave readers both entertained and inspired. Jessica lives in Rhode Island with her husband and three kids. She is feverishly at work on several more children’s manuscripts.