Thursday, October 23, 2008

Her Last Death: A Memoir by Susanna Sonnenberg

In Her Last Death, Susanna Sonnenberg is being summoned to her mother's deathbed. Many people would drop everything and go. However, she's very reluctant. Through the rest of the book, we find out why. Starting with her childhood in which she was hobnobbing with celebrities and being exposed to drugs, sex and other things she was too young for, to her adulthood in which she'd never know how her mother would react to things or if she was telling the truth, Sonnenburg lays it out for us in her extremely interesting and well written memoir.

I really enjoyed this book. Her writing is compelling; her story is thought-provoking. I sometimes have trouble reading memoirs, especially when it comes to the memories of childhood. We all know that children see the world differently probably because of their limited life experiences. Often what they see as a gross injustice turns out to be a life lesson. I didn't have that problem here. Sonnenberg's memories are consistent throughout her story in that her mother was loving and caring one minute and irrational and bizarre the next.

Susanna's mother, Daphne, didn't set boundaries for her children, exposed them to all kinds of adult things, lied to them repeatedly and, in my opinion, robbed them of their childhood. Whether her judgement was clouded because drug use (prescription and recreational) or mental illness (my opinion), her erratic behaviour was inexcusable. Because she was a chronic and compulsive liar, her family was unable to tell if she was telling the truth at any time. I can understand Susanna's reluctance to run to her mother's deathbed.

Because of her upbringing, Susanna was spiralling downward in her life and used sex as a way to cope. She's to be commended for pulling herself out and straightening herself up. She had enough sense to know when enough was enough when it came to her mother.

Highly recommended.

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