Her Last Death

Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg is a gritty and refreshingly honest look at relationship between mother and daughter.

When I began reading the book, I explained to a friend the novel’s plot, they asked me, “Why are you reading that?” and I didn’t have a response. The novel’s subject matter is beyond depressing, showcasing exactly how wrong parenting can go. The depths one person can sink to is outlined through her own daughter’s eyes.

What I find after completion is that this book much like many of Susanna’s choices, was necessary. In order to fully understand the relationship I have with my own mother, and in turn the relationship I will have with my children, I needed this novel.

No my mother didn’t snort cocaine or explain her sexual conquests in extreme detail to me at the end of each day. However, my mother does convince me that spending time with her will be a good experience each time I visit her. She builds my expectations and her own to unnatainable heights. Within 20 minutes of seeing each other we are disappointed. I am verbally put down athree times within that span of time and am ready to quit her presence.

No, my mother did not punch me or throw me out in the street, but she did come after me with hangers and verbally make me an ungrateful, unwelcome intruder in her “peaceful” existence.

Like Susanna, I wonder sometimes if I have exaggerated the details of her behavior. I constantly question my actions and wonder if things happened the way I remember or the way she tells them to her friends on the phone. Reality bends and warps from the contrast of her dictated twists and turns to the days when I was left to myself, alone with no way to confront her except in my imagination.

I started reading this book at a point in my life when everything began to crash down upon me, and the reality began once more to warp as the conflicting stories of memory and fairy tale do in this memoir. The burgeoning adult in me and my friends began to blame the book and I was convinced to discontinue reading it, but the conflicting realities were in fact only pointing out the inconsistencies in my own consciousness. It only served to point out the ways in which I was broken, through sthe eyes of someone else.

Susanna’s childhood is outrageous and the extreme, however echoes and themes can be found in the childhoods of anyone who has been abused in some way. Her book gives comfort with open honesty and allows anyone in these types of situations to recognize and come to terms with their own history and self.

**** (4 stars)

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