This is a book I have been waiting an eternity for (I'm not even sorry for that pun). I've been a supporter of Caitlin's since she had just a few hundred subscribers (now 200,000+ and growing) on her YouTube channel, "Ask a Mortician".
Upon the release of her debut novel, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Stories from the Crematory, I immediately purchased it and read it in a single sitting, this book was no different. Caitlin is the only person I've ever been a patron of on Patreon and this is the first book I had ever pre-ordered (though W.W. Norton was nice enough to send me an advanced copy for review, I still wanted to support the book).
Given all of those things and my history with Caitlin's work, I had a lot of expectations for this new book. I was overjoyed when it was announced on her channel and have patiently awaiting it ever since. That being said, it was approximately 1.5 Billion times better than I had expected it to be (the illustrations alone are jaw-dropping).
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death is exactly what it sounds like. It chronicles Caitlin traveling the world and exploring the death rituals of various cultures across it. She does an amazing job through her writing of balancing a heavy topic like death with her brilliant sense of humor. The humor is never distasteful in anyway, it works quite well. The serious moments are serious, and the rest is just fun and educational.
This book is, inside and out, indisputable proof that death can be beautiful. Caitlin observes and describes many death rituals in the most respecful ways possible, contrasts them with the death industry in North America, and showcases the ways people here are trying to improve death culture, our relationship with death, and the way we interact with our own dead.
While reading this book, I had many conversations with friends and loved ones about death and, while some found a few of the stories in this book to be "creepy" (they're not, they're beautiful), they all seemed to agree that the way we handle death, by not handling it at all, leaves something to be desired.
I think reading books like Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity should be mandatory. Caitlin is on a very difficult journey of changing the way a lot of stubborn people view death, and these books are a massive step in the right direction. For that, I thank her.