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Imperfect Endings: A Daughter's Tale of Life and Death

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  • Posted April 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    She Summoned Death - An Important read

    Whether or not one believes the choices this family made in Zoe Carter's memoir, Imperfect Endings, are right or wrong, Carter is an undeniably powerful writer, who has an easy way with words on a complex, but timely issue. She has taken the difficult, to say the least, subject of life and death and crafted it into an unforgettable personal story laced with wit, wisdom, humor, compassion, insight, and abundant food for thought. To be honest, when I first picked it up I wondered if I wanted to "go there." I'm glad I did-I found it incredibly moving.

    I know it took more than a little courage for Zoe Carter to write this provocative slice of life. Imperfect Endings meant paring familial façade to the bone and sucking out the marrow, which she did unabashedly.

    How does a daughter say, "Yes, Mom, I'll watch you die slowly by your own hand." I'll be a party to your staged sit-in with death.

    Hauntingly beautiful are the two words that washed over my soul when I finished reading Zoe Carter's Imperfect Endings. A true page turner, brought together through a dynamic flow of the highs of love and tenderness, and the lows of anger and sadness, revealing what it takes to be, at once, a mother and a daughter.

    I could see both sides as the drama unfolded: the mother's perspective, as she desired to make her exit -actually to direct it, while maintaining a modicum of dignity; and the three daughters' reluctance to come to terms with their mother's wishes and say goodbye to Momma. Throughout much of the memoir, a cloak of angry sadness hung from Zoe's shoulders-she was deemed the caretaker, ever flying from coast to coast, always at her mother's beck and call, while growing numb by degrees to her mother's flirtatious and ever changing dates with death. Zoe was the "good" daughter-but also a woman conflicted by daughterly duties over shadowing those of being a wife to a man trying not to lose his patience, and mother to young daughters of her own, needing her attention.

    Fluctuating between flashbacks of childhood memories and present day dilemmas, Zoe creates authentic scenes that strip away allusion to expose the raw reality of the family's intimate workings. The three daughters' angst for their parent's past transgressions and weaknesses was palpable, and their reckoning of their mother's pretenses and denial, although heartbreakingly understood, at least by two of the sisters, stayed unresolved.

    But, in the final days, as their mother, Margaret, slipped away, the atmosphere rang clear with tenderness and acceptance as Zoe's arms, gently enfolded a feather of a woman as the parade passed by, and songs from her lips sent Momma's soul soaring.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2010

    HIGHLY RECOMENDED

    Insightful, heart warming, sobering..........these are only three of the many words that I could use to describe this incredible tale told by the daughter of a woman who wants to end her life of pain, in her own way and with dignity Zoe is the daughter who has always been there for her mother but who has never felt that she could meet her mom's expectations. Now her mother confides in her about every little detail of her plan to end her life. Zoe and her sisters do not want this to happen, but they cannot sway her from her plan. Zoe is the one, however, that her mother calls each time she changes her mind or her method. The stress of constantly being at her mother's beck and call, along with the guilt she feels about not always being there for her own family at those times, is wearing her down. A world of memories and the scrutiny of herself that is part of this time with her mom, is making Zoe crazy and adversely affecting her own life. But she cannot abandon her mother. Reading this book as made me take time to think about my own relationship with my aging parents and the part I will play in their future, where ever it will take us.
    Zoe Carter has shared an intimate part of her life with us and I thank her for that, and for a book I will read again and again as my own family dynamics change.

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


    Reviewer: Elaine Fuhr, Allbooks Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2010

    Lacking in believable emotion

    This book was selected in our book group, which consists of myself and 3 sisters. We are all avid readers and intelligent women. Not one of us could relate to the author of this book. It left all of us strangely untouched, and this should have been very emotional. Mostly, we were put off by seemingly indulgent details from the author (such as describing her "toned knees" and "runner's calves") which detracted from the serious tone of the book. The portrayal of the dying mother struck all of us as manipulative and annoying. I think we all ended up siding with the oldest sister who refused to be part of the drama. This book brought up some very timely issues, and that encouraged many discussions, but they centered around assisted-suicide, not this book. I read this book thinking it felt like the point of view of someone in their twenties, not in their forties. It's hard to understand the over-the-top reviews. I won't remember this book this time next year.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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