Facebook executive’s book about coping with loss a major success


Christopher Walker, Contributer

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, wrote “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” in the wake of her husband’s sudden death from a massive brain aneurism.

In the book, Sandberg details how she coped with the loss of her partner and the techniques  she used to overcome this tragedy. In addition to her personal anecdotes, Sandberg describes numerous scientific studies about how loss and tragedy affect the human mind.

Although it would be accurate to call this book “self-help,” that designation does a disservice to the work. The vast majority of self-help books are heavy-handed, narcissistic works in which the author spouts opinions while masquerading them as universal truths.

“Option B,” however, is a nuanced, layered work that could accurately be described as literature. The prose is enjoyable and accessible, and the scientific studies Sandberg cites lend weight to the advice and techniques she gives.  “Option B” is fascinating, touching and written with undeniable humanity.

The book follows a somewhat linear plot. Sandberg rarely leaps back and forth in the timeframe of her tragedy, and whatever happens in the novel generally happens chronologically. She copes with her loss one step at a time, and the reader peeks inside her mind at each step.

Not only does this structure make the work engrossing and easy to follow, it allows Sandberg to become a protagonist, and lets the reader root for her. If this sounds self-absorbed, trust that it is not; “Option B” is a masterful balance of wit, seriousness and empathy.

Anyone who has dealt with a personal tragedy will find both solace and wisdom in this book. Those who might wish to prepare themselves for the day when a tragedy will inevitably befall them should pick it up.