Book Review: Just Toss the Ashes


By Marta Merajver

One of the great gifts of the Internet is the ease with which we can connect with like-minded others across the globe—Just Toss the Ashespeople whose existence we would never have discovered before.  In honor of that I’d like to introduce Argentine translator and author Marta Merajver (Just Toss the Ashes at

For those of you who read to explore the human condition, to understand the conflicts and agonies of the times—either current or past—or to feel your own life echoed in the stories of others, I recommend Marta’s novel,  JUST TOSS THE ASHES .

Lucas discovers his mother, Sylvia, dead in her bed. Her suicide, and clearly it is that, sends him, and takes us, on a desperate quest to understand why she’d chronically longed for death and finally succeeded in escaping from a tormented life.

We experience her bouts of depression, self-loathing, and violence through Lucas’s eyes, then through his father, Jaime’s, and then through friends’ eyes. Those plus Sylvia’s own letters take us not only through her struggle with mental illness but also into the disorienting, chaotic effect of illness on her loved ones.

The unvarnished honesty, often harsh, of Marta Merajver’s prose does not spare the reader the torment of such a life or Lucas’s confusion and despair as he seeks the constancy of love. What we do end with, however, is the promised understanding of her act—indeed we wish it for her if only for the cessation of pain.

It sounds like an oxymoron to claim such topic is a good read, and it takes a great deal of talent to make it so. Perhaps by shifting points of view, so we feel we are looking through different windows into a life, Marta Merajver makes the trip an act of discovery and understanding, and while we are sometimes confused by the chaos of Sylvia’s mental state, we do not sink into her despair.

3 Responses to Book Review: Just Toss the Ashes

  1. Mary E. Trimble March 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    This sounds like a thought-provoking book, Judy. I enjoyed both this article and the one on Marta Merajve’s blog on which you were a guest yesterday.

    • Judy March 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

      Yes, Marta really takes the reader through the ups and downs, and chaos of mental illness, not only from the point of view of the ill person, but also of the family and friends.

  2. Marta Merajver-Kurlat March 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    Thank you, Mary. I hope you read “Just Toss the Ashes” sometime. It’s a real pleasure to have it reviewed by Judy, a wonderful and sensitive writer herself.

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