Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Not the Field Guide You Were Expecting

**Contest Alert** (following my review)

(does math) Nearly 15 years have passed since the last time I sat in a college classroom discussing and dissecting the finer (or not so fine) points of a literary work. It is, undeniably, a long time to be away from such a critical practice for someone who once announced that literature was her life. Obviously my lifes work did not find itself in literature; I became a mother, a wife, a homemaker, a Widget Factory Goddess (even says so on my business cards), and a devout reader of the books that would make my very religious (it was a religiously affiliated university after all) literature professors stab their eyes out with mutant plastic sporks.

What I've found in the years since I gave up the pursuit of so called high brow literature is that, in the works which would have been summarily dismissed by academia, I routinely find all of those things I was once taught to search out, quantify, qualify, and dissect. Often, the only difference I find is that the works are not dripping with condescending religious or moral lessons and are instead enjoyable to read and easy to recommend.

It is not uncommon when you are a prolific reader to encounter stories about people who reach their breaking point. As a literary tool the breaking point gives an author a place to build toward, the opportunity to allow a character to change, and in some instances growth or resolution. At least, that is what I remember from those many long hours in the stuffy classroom with the hard wooden chairs of torture. What I don't recall having read very often is encountering the main character after the breaking point, when that rock bottom moment has come and gone and as the reader we must read between the lines, put the pieces together, and wait patiently for the author to reveal just what it was that caused main character to shatter.

Title: A Field Guide To Burying Your Parents
Author: Liza Palmer
Publisher: 5 Spot (Hachette Book Group, Inc.)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages:304 (trade paperback)
On Sale: December 23, 2009

Indiebound Link

Authors Web Site

Grace Hawkes has not spoken to her previously tight-knit family since her mother's sudden death five years ago. Well, most of the family was tight-knit-- her father walked out on them when she was 13 and she and her two brothers and sister bonded together even closer with their mother as a result.

She's been doing her best to live her new life apart from them, but when their estranged father has a stroke and summons them, Grace suddenly realizes she's done the same thing he had done...abandoned those who need her most.

And need her they do, for inside the hospital walls, a strange war is unfolding between the pseudo-kindly woman who is their father's second wife and the rest of the original Hawkes clan. Upon reconnecting with her brother and sisters, Grace will find a part of herself she thought was lost forever. As they unravel the manipulative deception of the second Mrs. Hawkes, Grace will finally be able to stand up for her family-- and to remember what a family is, even after all these years.

My Review:

Brilliantly told, A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer tells of the kind of love that binds people together, tears them apart, and forgives even in the bleakest of circumstances. An engrossing story that unfolds at a nice pace, we learn just what it was that caused Grace to shatter and how her choices affected those who loved her most.


I happen to have an extra copy of A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents available to send your way. All you need to do is answer the following question in the comments to enter:

I'm not know for my physical grace or athletic prowess, one of the reasons may be my propensity to break things. Oops! What is the worst thing you've broken and why?
Comments will close at 10 AM CST Tuesday February 10th and I'll draw a winner from the hat. One entry per person please. Refer to the General Contest Rules for all the details

FCC Bru HaHa -
This is a review website and as a reviewer I am occasionally given things (for free) to try out so I can impart my opinion about them. This would be one of those times. In exchange for reading and reviewing this book I was sent a copy to keep as my own.


Chris said...

Not entering, but I'll mention this on my blog this week. :)

I break so many things... usually all of my favorite coffee mugs.

Kailyn said...

So many broken things since I was quite the klutz as a child. I'm going to go with the fingers I broke -- not at the same time but a year apart.

hillary said...

Sounds like a good book. I'll put it on my list.

As for what I've broken - start with my left wrist and go from there.

Keri said...

Dude. I saw the title and was hoping this was nonfiction. Tease.

Vicki Knitorious said...

Sounds like a great book to add to my list!

I broke one of my mother's favorite, gorgeous, expensive, and very slippery-when-wet cut glass bowls -- dropped it in the sink, practically under her nose, cleaning up after a party. She got over it and probably even forgot, but I still remember.

Anonymous said...

throw my name in that hat, sistah!

Julie said...

My right arm when I was 10. That led to finding out I was extremely short-sighted (thus the fall), getting geeky glasses and having a class picture that would definitely qualify for Awkward Photos. Sad.

sherrypg said...

I clipped the back of a kitchen chair with a carton full of ONE DOZEN EGGS. Plop. Plop. Plop. And so on.

MoMMY said...

Oh, I so want this book. And as far as breaking things, there are so many I can't even begin to remember. The one thing I haven't broken, by some miracle, is any bones. It is astonishing since I've done such harm to myself with the clumsy.

vslavetopassionv said...

Worst think I have broken...I guess that would someone's trust. :(

Count me in for the contest.


Jeanne said...

Hmmm...at my former employer, I once dropped a VERY expensive piece of networking equipment. And it stopped working. Fortunately for me, we opened it up and reseated all the various cards within, and it started working again. Go Cisco!

Kym said...

For my sixteenth birthday I got a beautiful - and expensive - music box (it played "Yesterday") from my parents. I loved it. When I went to bed on my birthday, I decided I wanted to listen to it as I went to sleep. I knocked it off my night stand as I moved to wind it up. It shattered. I cried.

5elementknitr said...

My husband had this huge coca-cola glass that he won at a fair when he was 12. It was his favorite glass - big enough to hold the perfect amount of ice-to-soda ratio.

I was unloading the dishwasher one day and had put the sacred glass on the counter to put the other glassware in the back of the cabinet. I brought my arm down, my elbow caught the glass and it fell to the floor where it shattered irreparably.

He's never let me live it down.

Amanda said...

Worst thing I have ever broken would have to be my husbands collectible batman statue. It was a limited edition black and white collectible and I knocked into the shelf. Oops! So sorry honey. I will replace it soon. :( Not the first one I have broken though... I am way to clumsy. Manna_Greene(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I seem to be cursed whenever I attempt to drive Da Yeep. I have caused it to stop shifting, to have a hydraulic line fall off, and for the hardware holding the plow on the front end to suddenly part company with the rest of the vehicle. My husband drives it to plow driveways with reckless abandon, I drive it 5 careful miles with kid-glove care. So why does it break when I drive it and work perfectly when he does?