Customer Review

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A satisfying, not overly neat, conclusion, February 20, 2008
This review is from: Her Last Death: A Memoir (Hardcover)
Susanna Sonnenberg led a luxurious life as a child of privilege. When she was three years old, Bob Dylan lived next door. Susanna's parents divorced, and she moved to a deluxe New York hotel with mother Daphne and sister Penelope. Daphne drove a taxi, often bringing along her daughters in order to get bigger tips from fares. She began to date, was charismatic and popular, and had fabulous stories to tell, some of which were probably true.

Daphne took six-year-old Susanna, along with Penelope, on a trip across the country. Along the way, she confided that she had stolen coats, sleeping bags and jewelry for their trip. She also told Susanna that she had leukemia and that she only had a few months to live. Susanna, horrified and sad, asked what would become of herself and Penelope after Daphne died. Daphne brushed off the question, telling her daughter that there was a good side to being terminal --- such as being able to charge anything on credit cards but never having to deal with the bills.

When the trio returned to New York, Daphne informed Susanna that she didn't have leukemia after all; the hospital had mixed up patient charts. This just proved to be one of many of Daphne's uncountable, manipulative falsehoods. Meanwhile, Daphne seduces a married neighbor, Colin, but takes the girls on a vacation with Colin's best friend, Hugh.

Although Susanna yearns to be closer to her father, Nat, he is emotionally distant with his daughters, suggesting they call him by his first name. Nat suffers the early stages of multiple sclerosis but manages to take the girls to cultural events. At one point, Susanna accompanies him to see Orson Welles films. He sternly tells his daughter not to speak until the movie has ended. As Nat watches the film, a man sits by Susanna, stroking her thigh. Afterward, when Susanna reveals to her father what happened, he simply tells her what to say next time: "Take your hands off me!" Nat considers the problem solved, but Susanna is sad that he doesn't act outraged or try to find her molester.

As Susanna grows older, her mother's erratic behavior escalates. She abuses Susanna physically and emotionally, but these episodes are followed by interludes of irresistible magnetic charm. Yet Susanna grows wary and then warier as her mother seduces her boyfriend, abuses drugs and constantly lies. Susanna's own behavior, particularly with men, begins to mirror her mother's. If "as the twig is bent, so grows the tree" is a true saying, then how can Susanna ever learn to find honest love and live an honorable life?

HER LAST DEATH is in many ways an unsettling read, partly because of the matter-of-fact tone in which Sonnenberg relates her mother's manipulation and abuses. It is also a page-turner, as the reader hopes for resolution, healing and resurrection for the author, who leaves us with a satisfying, not overly neat, conclusion.

--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon [...]
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

3.3 out of 5 stars (134 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (42)
4 star:
 (27)
3 star:
 (20)
2 star:
 (25)
1 star:
 (20)
 
 
 
Used & New from: $0.01
Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: New York, New York