‘Grief Is for People’: An Unskippable Memoir About Friendship and Loss

Sloane Crosley is back and better than ever

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grief is for people sloane crosely
cover: mcd; background: getty images

If Joan Didion set the gold standard for capturing the complex nature of grief, Sloane Crosley (I Was Told There’d Be Cake, Cult Classic) is carrying on the torch. Indeed, Crosley’s new memoir, Grief Is for People, is both a tender, moving and whip-smart meditation on friendship and loss, and the latest in the rich tradition of brutally honest female-driven nonfiction.

The book starts in 2019, when Crosley’s New York City apartment was broken into. The thief stole jewelry—notably multiple pieces from Crosley’s grandmother, with whom the author had a complicated relationship. Crosley was understandably rattled, and those feelings were dialed up infinitely when, exactly a month later, her friend and former mentor Russell Perreault died by suicide.

Russell was Crosley’s boss when she started working as a publicist at Vintage Books, and the two formed a fast friendship, complete with goofy office antics, successful flea market trips and magical days spent at the Connecticut country house Russell shared with his partner. There were also not-so-good times, from the disastrous revelation of fabrications in James Frey’s 2003 A Million Little Pieces (Russell and Crosley were the publicists) to the allegations against Russell of inappropriate workplace behavior.

In the months that follow the burglary and Perreault’s death, Crosley attempts to make sense of the parallel losses—which were compounded by the early days of the pandemic. She obsessively searches for her stolen goods on eBay and in NYC’s Diamond District, understanding that locating her jewelry won’t bring Russell back, but trying nonetheless. She ultimately notes, “You can ignore grief. You push it around your plate. But you can’t give it away.”

In the end, the process of grieving proves messy and nonlinear. But by looking to unpack it, to explain it, all with her signature bite and humor, Crosley does come to a sort of understanding. Our circumstances may be different, she seems to say, but we all must learn to mourn.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...