Review: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory

Today’s book is YA not in the traditional sense. While the story follows the author’s career path in her early 200s, this book appropriately addresses a taboo most teens find themselves fascinated with at one point: death.

The author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is none other than celebrity-mortician Caitlin Doughty. I am an unashamed Caitlin Doughty fangirl. She’s so cool. From her TEDx talk to her Youtube channel to her bestselling memoir, Caitlin Doughty is incredible. She’s taken an industry that many people stick their noses up at–undertaking–and turned it on its head. She has spearheaded many projects to make the funerary industry more transparent and reduce inflated prices of funerals and make unhealthy traditions taboo. Some of the corruption she fights is so ingrained in the funerary industry that it’s considered industry standard to overcharge and pollute our water sources with unhealthy, cheap embalming fluid. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is the backstory of the powerhouse that is Caitlin. The book covers her early fascination with death, brought on by watching an accidental beheading as a child, and ends with the opening of her own funeral home. The real adventures are the friends she makes and the lessons she learns along the way. Caitlin’s tone is unflinchingly honest and frankly hilarious. She treats bodies with dignity in her writing, and shifts the indignity of death and undertaking onto herself. This book is also meant to dispel the death stigma. For example, only in the past twenty years have Americans let strangers take care of our loved ones’ bodies. However, funeral homes insist that it’s tradition, and will even lie to clients and claim that bodies are dangerous and illegal to keep in the home. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is a combo of educational and entertaining — a must read.

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