Rea Bochner will talk about her latest published work, “The Cape House: A Memoir,” at the Katz JCC Arts, Books and Culture Festival on Nov. 6.
Author and Cherry Hill resident Rea Bochner has always been drawn to the art of writing.
Bochner recalls making up stories in her head at an early age and eventually transitioned to a career as a professional writer in adulthood.
However, nothing she wrote was quite like her latest book.
Bochner released her first memoir, entitled “The Cape House: A Memoir,” earlier this year. Bochner will discuss the book on Monday, Nov. 6, at the Katz JCC Arts, Books and Culture Festival.
Bochner can trace her love for writing back to childhood, where she said she always enjoyed coming up with stories and writing.
“I always had stories brewing in my head,” she said. “When I was in elementary school, I found myself drawn to words and stories. Even grammar in school, words always made sense.”
Bochner originally went to college for film and screenwriting. After spending time in Los Angeles after school, Bochner moved to North Jersey and returned to school to get a graduate degree in special education. Shortly after this, Bochner began to write professionally.
Most of Bochner’s past writing has consisted of numerous articles and short stories. A mother of five children, Bochner has also written a series of books on taking care of babies entitled “How to Raise Happy, Healthy Newborns Without Losing Your Mind!”
“I did a lot of professional work,” she said. “Clients hired me to write for websites and I had written articles for different publications.”
Bochner’s newest work, “The Cape House,” is unlike anything she has previously written. Her memoir takes a look at the experiences a person and their family has in the weeks before death.
The bulk of the story is set in 2009, shortly after Bochner’s mother, Debbi, was informed she had terminal cancer and had a short amount of time to live. Debbi decided to spend her final weeks at the Bochner’s summer home in Cape Cod.
“During her last six weeks of her life, she asked me to write her story,” Bochner said. “It was the first time I was really writing something about me.”
Bochner kept detailed notes from each day Debbi was at the family’s Cape Cod home. Bochner felt it was important to jot down each day’s experiences to preserve her memories.
“I actually started writing the day she called to tell me she was terminal,” Bochner said. “I wrote every day until her death.”
“I was just using it as a catharsis, as an outlet for what was happening at the time,” she added. “End of life is very intense.”
Bochner’s book goes beyond just Debbi’s final six weeks of life. When Bochner began to piece the story together years after Debbi’s death, she began to explore the relationship she had with her mother. Bochner’s notes from Debbi’s final weeks and her life experiences with her mother became the framework for “The Cape House.”
“I realized there was a whole backstory that needed to be told,” Bochner said. “That’s what compelled me to go back and tell the whole story of my mother and I.”
Bochner said the book features a wide range of emotions and described her work as life-affirming, thoughtful, reflective, honest and hopeful.
“The Cape House” isn’t just about the dark parts of death. Bochner said there could sometimes be peace in end of life and she wanted to paint a vivid picture of what she and her mother went through eight years ago.
“It was very, very difficult, but also very beautiful in many ways,” Bochner said.
“Our society as a whole doesn’t give death a good look.”
Since “The Cape House” was released on Feb. 16, Bochner has received a very positive response. The book has received an average score of 4.9 stars out of five on Amazon and Bochner said she has received lots of kind words from readers she has spoken to at previous events.
“People really appreciate an honestly told story,” she said.
Bochner is looking forward to meeting new community members and speaking about her book at the Katz JCC. She is hoping to touch new audiences with her words and stories.
Bochner will be at the Katz JCC’s Lahn Social Hall on Nov. 6 at 9:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 for JCC members and $12 for guests. To purchase tickets, visit https://katzjcc.org/abcfest. Readers can also check out Bochner’s blog at her website, www.reabochner.com.