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)
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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 FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved