Author: Liza Palmer
I loved writing this book review. Tart, saucy and emotionally clean, and certainly evocative. Gracie is one of four siblings. Siblings she has not spoken to in five years – since the death of her loved mother. Big sister Abigail calls the family together. Their father – the father who Gracie’s mother asked to leave 22 years ago – has had a stroke. Gracie’s inner hold on her grief of her mother’s death explodes to the surface, and she agrees to meet Huston, Abigail and Leo, her brothers and sister, at the ICU where her father lies in critical condition.
Crumbling and crumpled families. Nothing new as a theme. How siblings assume the same roles even when they are grown. How when our heart breaks sometimes you have to run and hide. Somehow, Ms. Palmer takes these all too real situations and taps into those private places we never allow anyone into – and produces a novel to be dealt with. She is as brilliant as this novel.
Transcending all the stereotypes, producing a real and unbelievably touching view of how the heart should work, Ms. Palmer gives us a novel that recreates a family in their vast grief and through vast emotions. I haven’t enjoyed a novel about families this much since Fannie Flag’s “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.”
As Gracie gets the call – ten calls – from Abigail on her Blackberry telling her that Ray, the father she hasn’t seen or heard from in 22 years has had a massive stroke and the family needs her, Grace deletes the calls. Only when big brother Huston and younger brother Leo call too does she decide to join the family she has not seen in 5 years.
What Huston, Leo and Abigail discover is their love – for each other and their father. They discover that none of them have dealt with the death of their mother 5 years ago, and when Gracie ran away. They find out that Connie, Ray’s wife of 6 months is trying to steal the estate that Ray has left to his three children, as well as their inherent love for their father. And Gracie discovers John, the love of her life, whom she ran away from also.
This may sound like a simple plot. Do not make that mistake. As Ms. Palmer winds us through every step of a family grieving, loving and fighting for their father’s wishes, every sentence, every paragraph is an emotional haven of honesty. With a clarity and eloquence that simply cannot by put into words, this novel soars with the human capacity for love and pain. A novel like this comes along every 5 years, and its simplicity and complexity bring to its lambent culmination of the power of a family torn and fraught with emotion, laughter, life – and death.
Beautifully written, with characters that will linger long after you have put this novel down, you will remember a plot that blossoms, blooms and scatter itself like the ashes on a new dawn.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Book Review by Broad “A” – Ava
A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents is available for purchase from Amazon.com for under $10 or at your local bookseller for $13.99.
A big thank you to the Hachette Book Group for providing us with a copy for this book review as well as those for this giveaway.
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