Book Review: Her Last Death

By Susanna Sonnenberg

Mrs. Sonnenberg should have written three books: one book about her relationship with her mother (and family), another about what a selfish person she was growing up, and a third about her work in an abortion clinic.

We read about all of the sordid details of her childhood and her relationship with her highly engaging mother, the reading of which reminded me of reality TV. And like reality TV I did not want to read, but I kept reading. The author lulls the reader into thinking she is the only sane one.

When the book is three quarters of the way complete she comes clean with the reader. You almost feel as a reader that she letting you in on the secret that she was not all that different from her mom and her sister. She admits to the reader that she skipped over some items: she is a nymphomaniac and a compulsive liar too. We learn she was as insane as the rest of the people in her life. She was selfish just like her mom. She only becomes a real respectable person when she moves to Missoula. (I read that part on the back of the book and that was why I picked it up.) She gets a real job working at a restaurant (think Finnegans in Kalispell) for minimum wage and cuts off contact with her mother.

I found the final part of the book to be the most moving. She wrote in this section about her work at an abortion clinic in Missoula. But again it seemed to belong in another book. She wrote clearly and explained her choices in life, even if I would not have made the same choices as she did. But without giving the story away, I was left with some questions about this section of the book too.

All three parts of her memoir are compelling. I read the book quickly, but at times I did not believe the author. For example, she states that even though she grew up in New York, went to boarding school in New England someplace (undisclosed), spent time in Connecticut, and had driven across the country with her mother to New Mexico, she did not know the location of Pennsylvania when she was in college. Really? I don’t buy it.

These small blips in the story, a story about lying at its core, make me question the truth in the other statements she makes. That said, the author also points out that she has a skewed memory of what happened. But I can’t help wondering if she is maybe bending the truth a bit here and there. Maybe, just maybe?

(One more thing: the photo on the cover of this book is so distracting...I don't feel like the woman's shoes fit her...they are way too big...and I can't figure out what the message is...why a picture only from the waist down?)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Could it be they're not her shoes...if you ask me it kinda looks like a young girls body maybe 9 or 10 in her mom's shoes...kinda like the time Nicole had really beautiful shoes she forgot about at our house and Erin would want to wear them all the time to dream about what life might be like if the shoes fit...

just wondering... Pam