Customer Reviews for

Imperfect Birds: A Novel

Average Rating 3
( 57 )
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(7)

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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 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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  • 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 May 5, 2010

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