Book Review : The Empty Nest: A Mother’s Hidden Grief by J M Kadane

When I first met Jen from It was ” virtual like” at first words.  We went back and forth and visited quite a bit. Jen is warm, positive, inspiring and just a lovely person. She has become a dear virtual friend and It has given me the greatest pleasure to review her book here, albeit a little delayed.

The Empty Nest from its touching cover to its lovely end, held my heart in a truly unexpected manner. I found myself facing a whole gamut of emotions as the ebb and flow of impermanence revealed itself. It read as a prelude to my life and my world. It is a poignant story about one mother’s journey, her happiness and her grief in an eye-opening account of how she deals with her new role as an ’empty nester.’

I was drawn immediately to her words. Other than being honest, emotional and sometimes gritty, there is something about the way Jen writes that makes you say: Oh my gosh, it’s my story, the birth of my child. From those blue days under a cloud of sorrow, then miraculously emerging into raptures of joy – that is, to me personally, the true experience of being a mother.  I read everywhere. In my car, parked, waiting for my girls to finish ballet. At the car pool line and at Starbucks, sneaking in a half hour early before pick up, to sit quietly and read. I should make it clear that I have a thing about reading e-books. I can’t get used to reading on a device. I need to hold a book in my hands. Yet, I found myself attached to Jen,  turning page after page of The Empty Nest to breathe in a glimpse of life with her two girls. Jen’s words lull you into watching her daughters grow, from babies learning to walk and talk, to their first days at school. I realized then, how many of those memories I had left behind, for in trying to be present, I was only caught up in life, here and now. I took my own walk, back in time – to when my children were babies, to how my mother raised me. I went through baby books and memory boxes. It completely unnerved me when I realized my time was limited.

As the girls teenage years approached, I  wanted to bury my head in the sand and um, stay there. I leaned over to hug Jen for everything she was about to experience. She wasn’t there. So as I read, I kept thinking how difficult it would be, in that moment to make decisions that allowed the girls a balance between freedom and expectations, to set boundaries and then watch them test everything you have modeled, taught and explained. The words that resonated the most with me from The Empty Nest are: ” you’ll be damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” It might seem a wee bit strange that I was attracted to that particular line, but for me, it summed up the experience beautifully.

I won’t reveal much more of the book as there are some lovely surprises and heartbreaking changes.  Simple words carry much weight In my humble opinion. It isn’t necessary to use complicated lines of prose to convey emotion and unconditional love. I already feel like I know Jen, but so much of who she is, lies in this book. Her ability to convey her pain as a mother and as a woman going through loss, finding love and learning who she is in the process, is gently done. A book for mothers, a story about growing up  and embracing change, that’s ‘The Empty Nest – A Mother’s Hidden Grief.

The Empty Nest : A Mother’s Hidden Grief

iBooks, 293 pages

ISBN 978-0-646-58479-9


  1. Can simple words express my gratitude for this amazing review? No, they cannot. I can only say thank you from the bottom of my heart for the precious words you have written and for the kindness you have shown me in doing this. Although we may be only ‘virtual’ I am lucky to know you and also to call you my friend. It took two mums from across the world to read a piece of each others writing for that to happen. How fortunate we have been, how lovely you are and I cannot say thank you enough for this beautiful review. xxxx


    1. You are one amazing woman. I am honored to have met you and to know you even better, now. I didn’t want to gush too much( and I could have 🙂 so the review would appear serious. I wanted to do it justice. I couldn’t find a way to critique it without being overly fussy. I could so easily relate to the first half of your book and the second half left me worried, scared and yet so hopeful, for here you are… You’ve survived somehow and the girls are grown up. What a strong lady you are, so much change, so much to deal with and yet, your humor and warmth shine as certain as the sun that rises everyday. I am going to sound like a stalker … Well, actually, I plan to stalk you a little big… Can I? Can I?
      I can’t believe how we met, two mums from two continents indeed, so much in common, I too am lucky to call you my friend and to have you in my life. Thank you my darling. I am only sorry the review took me so long.


  2. diannegray says:

    What a great review – this book sounds amazing. Being an ’empty nester’ myself I’m putting this on my TBR list 😉


    1. Hi Dianne, thank you so much for visiting. I feel like I know you from seeing your comments on Jen and Katies’s blogs. It was an absolute pleasure to review this book, I hope I did it justice.


  3. I love that you find time to read. That you make it a priority and read so much. I love your compassion and emotion. I love how you love your daughters. All this comes through in your writing. Good for you, MM. Sounds like a wonderful book!


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