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A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents    by Liza Palmer order for
Field Guide to Burying Your Parents
by Liza Palmer
Order:  USA  Can
5 Spot, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Grace Hawkes is called to her father's bedside after twenty-two years of no contact with him at all. Neither Grace nor her siblings had seen their father after he walked out on them many years before - a terrible blow that changed all their lives irrevocably. Five years ago, their mother died in an accident. This trauma has never really been addressed by any of them.

What call did this man, her father, whom she no longer knew, who broke her mother's heart, have on Grace's life? She had wiped the whole family from her daily existence right after her mother's death. Not being able to handle her mother being gone, she simply ignored the fact and her family ties and tried to exist on her own terms.

Liza Palmer, author of A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents, has written about a situation that might happen to any one of us. How it is handled is the real focus of the book. We can all take something away from this small volume to help comfort us in a time of grief. I once asked a friend of mine if it wasn't time, after ten years, to stop being angry with a daughter who had committed suicide. Her answer? 'No. Because then I would have to grieve and I'm not ready to do that.' After ten years of not allowing herself to remember the good times with that daughter, or remembering how that child felt enveloped in her arms.

Anyway, Liza Palmer has her protagonist relive her life through her thoughts. Grace remembers the time as a young child she spent with her father while they played musical instruments together. And how empty life was with him gone. Now it is time to step up to the plate. Their father needs them with no baggage to deter their decisions as to his proper care. In A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents, Palmer has written a thought-provoking book from which all of us could take a lesson.

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