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The Things Between Us: A Memoir Hardcover – August 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743292634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743292634
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,910,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her bittersweet memoir of her father's death from metastatic stomach cancer, Montgomery (editor of Tin House magazine) charts the rough terrain of her eccentric New England family life and explores the trauma it took to reunite her dysfunctional family. Montgomery's mother is a falling-down drunk who has gin for breakfast; her gentleman farmer father, Big Dad, ignores his wife's alcoholism. The author's sister, Lael, and brother, Bob, are nine and six years her senior: Montgomery feels as if she grew up solo, in a different world than they. Escaping harsh realities is a family trait and none of the family has spent so much as a holiday together in more than a decade before Big Dad's news, when they all, reluctantly, come home. Montgomery skillfully shifts her narrative between the harrowing dailiness of her father's yearlong illness, her mother's escalating drunkenness, her own impending sense of loss and a damaging familial past she recalls with deeply mixed emotions. Montgomery's lyric and nuanced rendering of her love for her miscreant tribe has comic as well as tragic moments, but she steers clear of both sentimentality and New England stoicism, creating a tender portrait of modern death and real American families. (Aug. 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This heartfelt memoir is a testament to the ties that bind a family--no matter how dysfunctional--together. After her father is diagnosed with stomach cancer, writer and editor Montgomery travels back to her childhood home in Framingham, Massachusetts, to reconnect with her semi-estranged family. Her mother, a raging alcoholic, copes the same way she always did--beginning each day with a glass of gin at 8:45 in the morning. As her father--the glue that held their lives tenuously together--begins to deteriorate, Lee and her two siblings vacillate between indifference and despair. In the end, what brings them together is their shared stake in a family and a past that shaped the persons they had become. This forthright testament to the memories and emotions that inevitably bubble beneath the surface tackles universal questions of love and loss without judgment or bitterness. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

I love Ms. Montgomery's writing style and sense of humor.
A. Tucker
Slow reader that I am I thought it would take me a week or two to finish what turned out to be an absolutely astounding book...Time flew!
Clay C. Feeter
Anyone experiencing death or dying of close friends or family will find support and insight.
Kent Lewis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wish I'd read this book three months ago. I recently lost my father who had battled various illnesses during the last ten years of his long life. I live far away from my Dad and I came home to my childhood home more than I had in years to be with him during the final stages of his life. I could have learned so much about what goes on during these final weeks and days if I'd read Lee Mongtomery's book earlier this year. It's not only the gripping memoir of a loving daughter in a dysfunctional family...but it's essential reading for anyone going thru the final days with a beloved family member. It's truly an amazing time...filled with laugher, tears, anger and confusion...and thru this book I discovered that my family wasn't the only one going thru this odd roller coaster of emotions and frustration during a father's final days. Right down the road there was the Montgomery family who had gone thru this stuff in their own way, several years before us. It's the kind of thing no one ever talks about with such honesty and raw emotion. Every family member brings a different set of baggage to the household of a dying loved one. Everyone needs to be able to express themself as they need to...to patch up old wounds, find time for last minute hugs, and to say that last "i love you" however it works best for them. Kudos to Lee Montgomery for sharing her story. Her well-crafted words and her honesty will surely help others on similar journeys.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By C. Daniels on August 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This author can write -- Images are touching, sincere, and have depth. The book brought up memories and a new way to look at my parents. Love and compassion are great themes -- also it is clear the author was forged as a writer being brought up with a blend of influences -- a wide spectrum of life in the neighborhood!!!!

I love the language the author uses and felt I could touch every scene. Without giving too much away -- polywogs and fireflies, the smell of the garden and well-loved animals that inhabit the scenes...the clear/and representative perceptions of the characters.

Definitely helps me deal with mortality and parents and upbringing.

The author peels the fig and gives the reader the essence of life.

Think I will cruise down my own "Winch Street" and see the flowers next spring.

Fabulous writing!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Clay C. Feeter on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Slow reader that I am I thought it would take me a week or two to finish what turned out to be an absolutely astounding book...Time flew! Two days later (two 3 hr. rapid reading sessions; could not put it down!) I slumped over my reading table with my head on the book almost in tears feeling a sadness almost as purely as the writer must have felt herself.

But there are also deep, rediculously hilarious gut laugh moments. Other funny happenings throughout the book could have been sad had Montgomery not have injected her classic "oh well, let's just go with it" attitude you find throughout the book.

It's rare we can sit so on the edge of our seats despite knowing what ultimately is going to happen: her beloved father, the family anchor dies...but it is the living along the way that Montgomery celebrates.

Thank you, Ms. Montgomery, foe allowing me -- a typical guy who keeps his emotions on the surface -- to explore a greater depth that has actually improved and help me cherish my relationship with those dear to me...while I can.

-Clay

Keene, New Hampshire
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jeffsdate on October 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best things I've read in ages. Terribly sad, but not the kind of sad where you have to stop reading -- on the contrary, I couldn't STOP reading. Certainly anyone who's ever dealt with aging, ailing parents and all the accompanying sibling problems that arise, should read this. I wish I could write like Ms. Montgomery. Since I can't, I want to read everything else she's written.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Alton on December 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I stumbled upon this book in our local library..and I'm glad I picked it up. Three days later it is done...and I can feel aspects of my own life are getting clearer now. The author was born in the 1950s and comes to terms with her beloved dad's death in the 1990s. No one is ever ready to loose a parent but your heart will break and you'll laugh out loud during the most special passages in this memoir. I don't hesitate to recommend this bittersweet testament to love in an era when dysfunctional was common and alcoholism was a secret of so many people.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kent Lewis on August 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm normally not a fan of memoirs, but Lee Montgomery's novel is truly amazing. Her ability to engage the reader while offering honest insights into her life and that of her family, is powerful. Anyone experiencing death or dying of close friends or family will find support and insight. Those coping with cancer or alcholism in their family will also benefit from reading this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Tucker on October 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I really couldn't put the book down. I love Ms. Montgomery's writing style and sense of humor. Ok, I am a transplanted New Englander and we have a dry humor so it makes sense I laughed throughout a book with a sad plot. I laughed because that's what you do to deal with saddness. It's our form of therapy.- I lost my brother and like another reviewer already said, I felt myself rush back into the last year of his life and the delicate, complicated, and very confusing moments you have with siblings and parents when you face the death of someone you love. Yes, there were times we even laughed. I also nodded my head many times to the descriptions of life on the farm and the struggles of being a teen during those years. The book reignited all those emotions and more. Ms. Montgomery should keep on writing.
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