The Book

Were You Close?

a sister’s quest to know the brother she lost

“A heartfelt exploration of risk, loss, and self-discovery in the aftermath of tragedy. Pinkerton’s generous memoir shines a necessary light on the hard road to writing about the death of a beloved sibling.”

Jessica Handler,
author of Invisible Sisters, The Magnetic Girl, and Braving the Fire
Were You Close? book cover

A successful radiologist and elite athlete, Dr. Dave tended to the blistered feet of strangers on racecourses and gave away many of his trophies. He was appreciated for his generosity and camaraderie with family, friends, colleagues, and adventure-racing teammates, the latter of whom usually accompanied him on excursions. But he embarked on his final pursuit alone—an attempt to summit all fifty-four of the fourteeners in Colorado—and made an unknowable error that caused him to fall two hundred feet to his death.  

When people learned that he had died, they often asked his sister, the only girl and the baby of the family, “Were you close?” The question, seemingly straightforward, haunted her and begged for a deeper answer, requiring an exploration that took a decade. She invites the reader along on her own journey as she searches for a greater understanding about who her brother was, why his passions were worth risking everything, and how to carry on in the world and in her family without him, ultimately becoming even closer to him in death than in life. 
Were You Close? challenges the cultural notion that the bereaved can or should simply “get over” their losses, illustrating that integrating these experiences can actually help a mourner not just heal, but move forward with clarified purpose.

Were You Close? captures how the death of a loved one causes us to reflect on and reassess our relationships—especially our relationship with the person who died. It is lyrical, accessible, and a necessary contribution to the literature of loss.”

Gabrielle Birkner, co-author, Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief. Beginners Welcome.

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