Customer Reviews for

Imperfect Birds: A Novel

Average Rating 3
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

intelligent psychological family drama

Entering her high school senior year, seventeen year old Rosie Ferguson is a high achieving teen. Rosie is beautiful, an A student and a good athlete. Her mother Elizabeth is proud of her daughter.

Elizabeth feared the move to Lansdale in Marin County, but she, her...
Entering her high school senior year, seventeen year old Rosie Ferguson is a high achieving teen. Rosie is beautiful, an A student and a good athlete. Her mother Elizabeth is proud of her daughter.

Elizabeth feared the move to Lansdale in Marin County, but she, her husband James, and her daughter apparently adjusted rather easily though she prays Rosie stays away from the youth drug culture as she knows she herself uses alcohol to numb emotional excess. She and James vigilantly watch Rosie for signs of abuse and use as the square sells everything. However, in spite of their vigil, they fail to notice her daughter's mendacity until it is almost too late. Risking their marriage, James and Elizabeth intervene while Rosie objects.

Rosie and Elizabeth return (see Rosie) in this profound gut wrenching family drama. The story line captures teen behavior with a strong need to ignore parental authority while also demanding privacy and the typical subsequent parental reaction. The lead trio is an awesome combination of love, defiance, and anger as Anne Lamott provides an intelligent psychological family drama.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on February 14, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Imperfect Birds is an imperfect book

Imperfect Birds is an imperfect book, but that's okay. I forgive Anne Lamott just about anything, since I'm nuts about her and I know she pours her guts, heart and soul into her writing. Because of that, though, this work of fiction sometimes gets a little crazy and ove...
Imperfect Birds is an imperfect book, but that's okay. I forgive Anne Lamott just about anything, since I'm nuts about her and I know she pours her guts, heart and soul into her writing. Because of that, though, this work of fiction sometimes gets a little crazy and overwrought.

The story is about 17-year-old Rosie spiraling out of control, and the parents who are clueless then horrified, careless then vigilant, and rarely on the same proverbial page.

Even though Rosie is not very likeable, my heart breaks for her as I put myself in her shoes. back in high school, struggling to fit in, secret and inappropriate crushes, getting into trouble with my friends, pushing the limits. At that age so many of us are striving for independence and individuality while, paradoxically, we're mortified if we don't fit in. Rosie thinks she's so smart and so grown up when she's really just a dumb, spoiled kid.

As the mother of my own 17-year-old daughter, I feel this mother's angst, understand her denial, but sometimes want to shake her and tell her to wake up. I do empathize with her because there certainly are times when I find myself unprepared and in despair as a parent. That said, Elizabeth, the mother in the book is way too worried about rocking the boat with her teenage daughter and way too concerned about being her friend. Thank goodness she has healthy grownup friends and a husband who is slightly wiser and stricter than she is to support her before she goes down the tubes and takes Rosie with her.

Anne Lamott's strongest and most successful books are her memoirs (Operating Instructions, Bird by Bird, Traveling Mercies, Plan B, Grace Eventually), filled with brutal honesty and a candid sharing of her spiritual journey. Those who've read them feel they know Annie and her son, Sam. In Imperfect Birds, Lamott strives to weave in a spiritual plot through Elizabeth's friend Rae (a weaver!) and her involvement in a community church, but that piece of the story seems contrived. Rosie gets a summer job there. The church is on the scene with candlelight vigils after tragedies. The wise pastor is there with sage advice for Elizabeth. It just didn't ring true to me.

The point in the book is that we are all imperfect but allow each other, character flaws and all, into our the sacred spaces of our hearts. I love the metaphor. I just wish I liked these people a little more. They are the 12-step textbook example of insanity: doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. That's one of the things that makes the book a little crazy but it's also one of the things that ultimately makes it work as a cautionary tale. And it is that-a big, red, blaring warning for families and entire communities as our youth continue to medicate themselves into oblivion to escape the reality of their lives.

posted by Mimsy811 on May 14, 2010

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  • Posted February 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    intelligent psychological family drama

    Entering her high school senior year, seventeen year old Rosie Ferguson is a high achieving teen. Rosie is beautiful, an A student and a good athlete. Her mother Elizabeth is proud of her daughter.

    Elizabeth feared the move to Lansdale in Marin County, but she, her husband James, and her daughter apparently adjusted rather easily though she prays Rosie stays away from the youth drug culture as she knows she herself uses alcohol to numb emotional excess. She and James vigilantly watch Rosie for signs of abuse and use as the square sells everything. However, in spite of their vigil, they fail to notice her daughter's mendacity until it is almost too late. Risking their marriage, James and Elizabeth intervene while Rosie objects.

    Rosie and Elizabeth return (see Rosie) in this profound gut wrenching family drama. The story line captures teen behavior with a strong need to ignore parental authority while also demanding privacy and the typical subsequent parental reaction. The lead trio is an awesome combination of love, defiance, and anger as Anne Lamott provides an intelligent psychological family drama.

    Harriet Klausner

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Imperfect Birds is an imperfect book

    Imperfect Birds is an imperfect book, but that's okay. I forgive Anne Lamott just about anything, since I'm nuts about her and I know she pours her guts, heart and soul into her writing. Because of that, though, this work of fiction sometimes gets a little crazy and overwrought.

    The story is about 17-year-old Rosie spiraling out of control, and the parents who are clueless then horrified, careless then vigilant, and rarely on the same proverbial page.

    Even though Rosie is not very likeable, my heart breaks for her as I put myself in her shoes. back in high school, struggling to fit in, secret and inappropriate crushes, getting into trouble with my friends, pushing the limits. At that age so many of us are striving for independence and individuality while, paradoxically, we're mortified if we don't fit in. Rosie thinks she's so smart and so grown up when she's really just a dumb, spoiled kid.

    As the mother of my own 17-year-old daughter, I feel this mother's angst, understand her denial, but sometimes want to shake her and tell her to wake up. I do empathize with her because there certainly are times when I find myself unprepared and in despair as a parent. That said, Elizabeth, the mother in the book is way too worried about rocking the boat with her teenage daughter and way too concerned about being her friend. Thank goodness she has healthy grownup friends and a husband who is slightly wiser and stricter than she is to support her before she goes down the tubes and takes Rosie with her.

    Anne Lamott's strongest and most successful books are her memoirs (Operating Instructions, Bird by Bird, Traveling Mercies, Plan B, Grace Eventually), filled with brutal honesty and a candid sharing of her spiritual journey. Those who've read them feel they know Annie and her son, Sam. In Imperfect Birds, Lamott strives to weave in a spiritual plot through Elizabeth's friend Rae (a weaver!) and her involvement in a community church, but that piece of the story seems contrived. Rosie gets a summer job there. The church is on the scene with candlelight vigils after tragedies. The wise pastor is there with sage advice for Elizabeth. It just didn't ring true to me.

    The point in the book is that we are all imperfect but allow each other, character flaws and all, into our the sacred spaces of our hearts. I love the metaphor. I just wish I liked these people a little more. They are the 12-step textbook example of insanity: doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. That's one of the things that makes the book a little crazy but it's also one of the things that ultimately makes it work as a cautionary tale. And it is that-a big, red, blaring warning for families and entire communities as our youth continue to medicate themselves into oblivion to escape the reality of their lives.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Anne Lamott's Imperfect Birds

    Frankly, this is an imperfect book! I've been an Anne Lamott fan since book one, but this entry is so full of depression and drugs that it made my teeth hurt. I'm eternally cheery and optimistic, but this book made me want to run off to the store for a strong anti-depressant. Not her best...no, in all honesty, this is her worst. A waste of paper to print it and time to read it... unless you happen to be into angst and woe. I'm not!

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Hopeful and real

    Anne Lamott always writes from her heart - we meet Rosie again, from "Crooked Little Heart" some 5 years later. Rosie is a mess and doesn't know it and neither does Rosie's mother. Step-father James tries to get everyone to see the light but it takes a while. It is a tale of mother's love (for good and bad) and making the hard choice to do the right thing for ones child - even if it means they hate you for it. Parents may find this book to be too real about how teenagers behave, but the characters also seem very real and alive. I cared about the characters in this book and enjoyed the reading and the ultimate outcome. As with most of Anne Lamott's books, I'm always sad when I get to the last page and there's no more book. If only she were a more prolific writer! But perhaps she crafts a masterpiece each time and that's the point.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wishing They Would Fly Away

    This book is a great argument for birth control. It's also a great argument for parenthood, so take your poison. The tedious life of a teenager who goes astray and the aching agony it leaves to the parents and those who care is painted in minute detail. We do feel their pain. Is there hope for a child so caught up in drugs and lying that they can do little else? The author makes no bones about how many "programs" fail. She does not tell us the outcome of the story here, but does show us that it is somehow, somewhere possible to right this horrible wrong. But what a rough road.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2014

    Boring

    Ok, I tried ln this one. I really did and I made it to page 29. How much did I pay for it? Forget it. This book is boring . And come on....the mom is thinking about all thier friend's physical ailments and bei g old.......at 50? Give me a break. Reading her daughters journal.... mom needs some parenting classes. Can't bring myself to finish this mess of a book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    Love Anne Lamott's memoirs but hated this novel. Quit halfway th

    Love Anne Lamott's memoirs but hated this novel. Quit halfway through and I rarely do that. Didn't care how it came out. Way too much trite detail and way too much about which sex acts were being performed br which teen. I really cannot believe this was written by the same author. Didn't like the story which dragged on, and didn't like the writing at all either. Such a disappointment after her other work.

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  • Posted February 27, 2013

    Could have been a much better book.

    This had all the ingredients to be a very touching book, but I struggled and struggled to finish the book. It was so slow and If I can say this about a book it had too many unnecessary details. This was my first book from the author so I am not sure if this is her style of writing, but I can't say I was a fan of it. The mother in the book was probably one of the worst characters I have ever met. As I stated all the ingredients to be a great book, but it just wasn't executed well.

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  • Posted April 25, 2012

    Highly recommended!

    A must to read - especially for parents who travel a difficult journey in life with their children who struggle with drug/alcohol addictions. I couldn't put the book down until it was done - great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    Scary Truths

    This book absolutly opened my eyes. I felt as if Rosie were my own daughter. I THINK SOMETIMES we cannot see the faults of those closest to us and wish to believe that person is always truthful. I LOVED THE BOOK AND AGREE the drug culture amoung our teens and young adults is something we should all be aware of.
    Annon

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    excellent

    This was a great book with interesting characters. It was extremely well written and held my attention to the end. I think parents of teenagers could learn a great deal from it. This is the second Anne Lamott book I've read, and she is one of those rare, fabulous writers.

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    Posted February 28, 2012

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