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A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents Paperback – December 23, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Palmer (Conversations with the Fat Girl) delivers a breezy feel-good story of family bonding. After hearing about her father's stroke, smart-ass heroine Grace Hawkes prepares for the wrath of the siblings she's ignored for the five years since their mother's death. Things are a little tricky, since their dad, Ray, left the family 20 years before and was a prolific philanderer, now remarried to the unsavory Connie. Snappy sibling bickering (sometimes too much of it) takes a bit of the melodramatic edge off as oldest sibling Huston takes charge and is surprisingly given power of attorney. Connie and her adult son, Dennis, aren't happy about this, which raises suspicion among the Hawkes siblings, especially after they visit their father's house and find no trace of Connie having lived there; instead, it's a shrine to Ray's first wife and the kids. As Ray's health declines in the hospital, tensions heat up and a legal showdown looms. There aren't any surprises in the sunny resolution, but Palmer takes enough unexpected detours on the way there to keep readers engaged. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

After their mother’s unexpected death, Grace fled her fiancé and siblings for a life largely lacking emotional connections. Now, five years later, their estranged father is gravely ill, and she and her siblings, Abigail, Huston, and Leo, have been called to his side. Grace must confront her own abandonment of her family even as she comes to terms with her father’s. The siblings discover their father repeatedly tried to restore his relationship with his family and that his seemingly devoted second wife is hiding the true nature of their marriage. As they arrange for their father’s care, Grace rekindles her bond with her siblings and makes amends with her former love. Palmer, author of Conversations with the Fat Girl (2005), writes with honesty, humor, and grace about family and romantic relationships. This realistic, emotional novel will resonate with readers. --Aleksandra Walker

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: 5 Spot; 1 edition (December 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446698385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446698382
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,335,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Liza Palmer is the internationally bestselling author of Conversations with the Fat Girl which Booklist says, "...manages to infuse a message of self--acceptance that isn't heavy-handed or cloying. This quick-witted author is sure to develop a following." Conversations with the Fat Girl became an international bestseller its first week in publication, being named a Target Breakout book, as well as hitting Number 1 on the Fiction Heatseekers List in the UK the week before the book debuted.

Conversations with the Fat Girl has been optioned for series by HBO by the producers of Rome, Band of Brothers and Generation Kill.

Palmer's second novel is Seeing Me Naked, which Publisher's Weekly says, "consider it haute chick lit; Palmer's prose is sharp, her characters are solid and her narrative is laced with moments of graceful sentiment."

Palmer's third novel, A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents will be published in January 2010.

Palmer currently lives in Los Angeles and is hard at work on her next novel as well as several film and television projects.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By EJ on December 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book revolves around the four adult children in the Hawkes family, who are reunited when their father falls ill. They have struggled as a family since their mother's death five years prior to the start of the story, and the book follows the various ways they have coped with losing a parent. For example, the protagonist, Grace, has isolated herself from her family completely since their mother's death. When faced with the prospect of losing their father, they are forced to either unite or divide.

I really, really enjoyed Liza Palmer's portrayal of this family. The characters, their feelings, their interactions, and their conversations all rang true to me. Of course, the makeup of my family is almost identical to that of the Hawkes', down to the ages, so I may have related more than the average reader. Even if that were the case, I feel that Ms. Palmer is extraordinarily gifted at illustrating even the most mundane ways that siblings interact with one another, and how each tends to have their `role' assigned in childhood and can never quite shed it after that.

The book really explores some of the issues related to losing a parent (which can happen in many ways), and how we struggle to adulthood carrying our scars with us. The writing is fresh, crisp, and in many cases, very funny. The only thing keeping me from giving it five stars is that the writing was uneven in some places. But it was a very nice read that made me look forward to more of Ms. Palmer's books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sharon S. on September 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
I decided to write a review for this book after reading the other reviews on Amazon. The story line has been recapped enough, so I won't go into that. I didn't find the book particularly sweet or light, as others have described it. I didn't wonder why Grace's siblings would welcome her back into the fold so readily, or why her ex-boyfriend was still available, as other reviewer's have. I was just really sucked in by the emotions of the four main characters as they dealt with all the confusion and problems their father's stroke revealed. They were all damaged by their father's desertion early in their lives, and they now have to figure out why he chose THEM to, essentially, take care of him and his estate at the end of his life. Perhaps because I've lived through parts of this story already, and am facing it again with my own father, it all just seems very believable and true to me. Parts of it did not make me feel good, but even though these aren't real people, at least you can see that one CAN come out on the other side. It did seem unrealistic that the four siblings are all successful in their careers, have beautiful homes, are very secure financially, and are "beautiful"...not to mention that their father turns out to be incredibly wealthy. And the fact that two of the characters are very successful attorneys certainly made it a lot easier to fight off the wicked "stepmother" in court. I haven't read Liza Palmer's earlier novels, and it was after reading the reviews on Amazon of 'Conversations with the Fat Girl' and 'Seeing Me Naked' that I came to the conclusion that Ms.Palmer's latest novel might be dealing with more serious life issues than her earlier novels. I'm not sure those novels appeal to me, so I can see why readers who loved them might not like 'A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents' as much. I think it is a good read, but I don't think it is light-hearted and sunny...even though it does have a lot of humor in it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lauren Sophie on January 31, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished this book and had to come write a positive review. This novel is an engrossing and engaging blend of family drama and romance with a bit of a mystery/legal plot thrown in to round things out. It's smoothly written with a lot of humor and emotion that never feels cliched, even if you feel you've read this plot before.

Grace, the main character, has been living in a detached fog since her mother's death five years before. She doesn't speak to any of her siblings or her former boyfriend. Instead, she's floating through life without feeling anything. When her father--who left the family when Grace was a teenager--has a stroke, Grace is forced to confront the pain that she's kept buried.

I loved all the relationships in this book. John, Grace's former boyfriend, is what you want in a hero--smart, kind, but with an edge. It is perhaps somewhat unrealistic that he'd be available to Grace after five years (throughout, I kept thinking that two to three years would have made more sense), but there's good tension between them and I was invested in their outcome.

I also loved Huston, Abigail, and Leo--is it too much to hope that they all get their own books in the future?

Pick this up when you want a feel-good read that isn't dumbed down.

Grade: A-
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Annie on January 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am one of 5 "surviving" children and my mother just had a stroke in November. The hospital dramas (nasty nurses, crowded rooms), family meetings and paperwork zoos were all too familiar but the plot is what really gripped me. My mind raced with all of the possible turns the story might take. I could not stand to be apart from these characters. I'll be grabbing another Liza Palmer novel today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Becky Scott VINE VOICE on March 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I grabbed this book off of the bargain table at my local bookstore. I was intrigued by the title and decided to check out a chapter or two before buying. It grabbed me sufficiently to make me want to read the rest. And I did. Late at night, and in about 3 hours. Once I got sucked in, I wanted to keep reading.

The story was interesting enough and I enjoyed the dynamics between the siblings. It made me wish for a much bigger, tight-knit family. I identified in some ways with Grace, having been separated by distance from my family for a few years and missing them terribly.

I read it from start to finish, not wanting to put it down. It was only after I sat and thought about it for a while that I could find some holes in some of the story and characterizations. Maybe the ending was a little too sewn up. Maybe the various reunions were a little too easy. And maybe some of the characters could have been drawn a little better. But I still read it and enjoyed it a lot. I wasn't looking for highbrow literary fiction. I was looking for an interesting and engaging read, which I found. So I don't regret my purchase at all. I enjoyed it.

I don't have any experience with the author's previous books, so I can't speak to how it compares. But I think I'll check them out to see if I would enjoy it. That speaks to me being entertained enough to want to see what else she has done.
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