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Her Last Death: A Memoir

Her Last Death: A Memoir

Escrito por Susanna Sonnenberg

Narrado por Susanna Sonnenberg


Her Last Death: A Memoir

Escrito por Susanna Sonnenberg

Narrado por Susanna Sonnenberg

avaliações:
3.5/5 (28 avaliações)
Comprimento:
8 horas
Lançado em:
Jan 1, 2008
ISBN:
9780743569811
Formato:
Audiolivro

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Descrição

Her Last Death begins as the phone rings early one morning in the Montana house where Susanna Sonnenberg lives with her husband and two young sons. Her aunt is calling to tell Susanna her mother is in a coma after a car accident. She might not live. Any daughter would rush the thousands of miles to her mother's bedside. But Susanna cannot bring herself to go. Her courageous memoir explains why.

Glamorous, charismatic and a compulsive liar, Susanna's mother seduced everyone who entered her orbit. With outrageous behavior and judgment tinged by drug use, she taught her child the art of sex and the benefits of lying. Susanna struggled to break out of this compelling world, determined, as many daughters are, not to become her mother.

Sonnenberg mines tender and startling memories as she tells of her fierce resolve to forge her independence, to become a woman capable of trust, and to be a good mother to her own children. Her Last Death is riveting, disarming and stunningly told.
Lançado em:
Jan 1, 2008
ISBN:
9780743569811
Formato:
Audiolivro

Também disponível como...

Também disponível como livroLivro

Sobre o autor

Susanna Sonnenberg is the author of Her Last Death. She lives in Montana with her family.


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O que as pessoas pensam sobre Her Last Death

3.6
28 avaliações / 20 Análises
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Avaliações de leitores

  • (4/5)
    Similar to Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle in that it tells the story of a childhood so traumatic that one wonders at the fact that the author actually grew up to have a seemingly normal life, Her Last Death is a compelling, engaging read in that train wreck sort of way. You know that you shouldn’t be fascinated by such horrible events, but you can’t look away. Add to that the persistent questions about what we can and can’t believe because, as Sonnenberg reveals, one never really knows how much of what her mother says is truth, and by extension, how many of her experiences could have been changed or prevented, and you’ve got one hell of an interesting life.It’s hard to say you enjoyed a book like this because, really, you spend a great portion of it feeling sorry for Susy and angry at her mother, but it is a very good read for a specific kind of reader.Read my full review at The Book Lady's Blog.
  • (4/5)
    Susanna Sonnenberg writes a scandalously fascinating memoir of her most unorthodox upbringing by an outrageous, drug-addicted, compulsively-lying (yet compellingly charismatic) mother, and a distant, and, often, disapproving father. At times, it was slightly reminiscent of Augusten Burrough's memoir, "Running with Scissors", in it's ability to be both disarming and tender at the same time. A great read!
  • (5/5)
    Wow, this is different from what I normally read. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages once I got started it was so hard to put down. I enjoyed reading about her story and how differently people are in this world. I have never experienced some of the things she has been through in my life and probably never will, but her memoirs tell a great story and how she has overcome some really different ways of thinking.
  • (4/5)
    Found this book at a thrift store for a buck. Got my money's worth and then some. Susanna Sonnenberg's memoir, HER LAST DEATH, documents a horrific childhood with a mother who was a sociopathic liar and could go from cooing and loving one moment to screaming and punching the next. The author's mother was married at 16, and after a couple of miscarriages, had Susanna at age 19. Addicted to cocaine, painkillers, tranquilizers and pretty much whatever she could shoot up, snort or swallow, mother 'Daphne' was probably also schizophrenic. I would say 'functioning' - but standards prevent that. Sonnenberg's beautiful, sociopath mother was married multiple times and involved in many short-lived relationships. Sonnenberg absorbed all of these bad examples growing up and became sexually active herself at an early age, engaging in an unhealthy long-term relationship with a married teacher thirty years older than she. Multiple affairs and pickup one-nighters followed after her college years. Her problematic relationship with her mother continued, but in her late twenties the author finally found herself in a stable relationship and realized the truth and the depth of her mother's problems.Married, Sonnenberg endures the heartbreak of aborting an unplanned pregnancy, an experience that leaves her devastated, and she becomes a post-abortion counselor at the same clinic. At thirty, Sonnenberg finally grows up, learns something about responsibility and parenthood. She cannot stop loving her mother, but she can finally understand the damage that her mother's lifelong erratic and sociopathic behavior has done, and weans herself off that influence.This is a compelling page-turner of a memoir, one that probably would appeal to most women. My reaction to this intimate look at one woman's screwed up life? Well, WHEW! I can see why it was a bestseller. I'm almost embarrassed to say it was hard to put down, but that's the truth. Sonnenberg is a damn good writer. Yeah, I'll recommend it.
  • (3/5)
    ** Warning: there are some spoilers sprinkled throughout this review. Proceed at your own risk. **Susanna Sonnenberg receives a call one day that her mother has been in a car crash and is in a coma. Her first instinct is to hop on the next flight out to be by her mother's side in the hospital. But then she decides not to go and lays out her reasons why to the reader by starting with her childhood. Born to a teen-aged mother who soon divorced her father, Susanna's upbringing was anything but normal. Her mother flitted from job to job, man to man, and prescription drug to illegal drug. Her varying moods meant she could be ready to shower gifts on her daughters or turn violent on them at a moment's notice. Sonnenberg recounts in detail the many ups and downs of her life with her mother in this memoir.Memoirs are difficult, no doubt. Their authors put out for the world all kinds of details about themselves, their families, and their other loved ones. This includes the bad along with the good, with authors sometimes (often) revealing things about themselves that they wish weren't true. Therefore, I try very hard to reserve judgment on memoirists. They lay bare their souls to the public and hope for the best. I usually try to give them the benefit of the doubt and admire their courage for saying the things the rest of us try to hide.But in this case, I found it very, very difficult to hold back my judgment on Sonnenberg. I think a large part of this was that she seemed to approach this book as a reporter (just the facts, ma'am) and gave little by way of analysis. The lack of analysis was for the most part fine when it came to her parents' actions but when it came to her own, it made it difficult to like her or understand the motivations behind her actions. The first half of the book describing her early childhood was the most engrossing. Sonnenberg writes about an unpredictable mother and a largely detached father who have money enough to lavish fairly large lifestyles on their daughters, but whose personal demons create a chaotic home life for their children. Here, Sonnenberg's detachment is first apparent -- while, yes, her life with her parents would best be described as "dysfunctional" and is certainly not enviable, she seems to fail to recognize that at least her parents' privilege gives her a better life than had she been born to druggie, emotionally unavailable parents living in poverty. She also seems to enjoy name-dropping a little too much during this section. In her teen years, Sonnenberg leaves behind her parents' mess to enter boarding school. It's here that I started to get rather frustrated with her. Rather than using this time as a fresh slate to embark on a more normal life, she rejects attempts at typical teenage friendships and relationships with other kids at the school and ends up getting involved in a sexual affair with one of the faculty members twice her age. Her life with her mother up to this point makes her ripe for such victimization, and a part of me feels bad that she ends up not being able to break free from such a cycle when given the opportunity. But that her adult self writing this memoir doesn't make the connection but instead seems to take an almost kind of glee in recounting explicit details of her sex life with this man left me feeling sour toward her. Still later in adulthood, she seems to follow in her mother's footsteps by having sex with any random man (and occasionally woman), engaging in multiple affairs, turning to alcohol repeatedly (but at least eschewing her mother's drug problem), and going from job to job after dropping them to follow after men. Susanna even falls into her mother's trap of compulsive lying, often without any benefit for herself even. And again, her lack of insight reflecting on this frustrates me. She relays these details with the only *tiniest* bit of realization that they weren't good choices, but mostly seems to enjoy talking about her own sexual prowess and ability to "seduce" (her words) anyone. Sonnenberg makes no attempt to draw the connection between her own lifestyle at this point and her mother's growing up, even though the line is so obviously there. Nor does she ever acknowledge her good fortune in being able to use her father's connections to easily get new enviable jobs after abandoning other perfect opportunities on a whim. After this time in her life, she meets the man who eventually becomes her husband. It seems that at this point she "settles down" and stops sleeping around, drinking as much, etc. But everything seems to now be about subsuming her self and her identity to this other person. She once again quits a job for a man, moves to the Mountain West (something she never expressed any previous inclination for doing), has an abortion for him and then within five months gets pregnant with him because now he decides he's ready. Once again, she gives little insight as to why all the sudden changes, providing nothing to make the reader feel that *this* is the person she's meant to be with, rather than just the person who was there when she seemed to be done with the lifestyle of jumping from man to man and bed to bed. It almost seems like at this point she's determined to be the exact opposite of her mother, no matter what it might cost her, although again Sonnenberg makes no connection or stated fact about her motivations.Furthermore, this second half of the book actually makes little reference to Sonnenberg's mother, becoming a book about her own sexual life rather than the memoir about her mother it's purportedly meant to be. This was just not want I expected from this book and its description of a daughter who "struggled to break out of this compelling world, determined, as many daughters are, not to become her mother ... as she tells of her fierce resolve to forge her independence." Rather this seems like a book of looking back at her own life choices (but with no introspective thoughts on them) and Sonnenberg's attempt to console herself that it's okay she didn't come to her comatose mother's hospital bed -- a stand that seems like a strange one to take. Rather than put her foot down at her mother's irresponsibility years earlier or when she herself had children, Sonnenberg chooses this moment to finally say "enough," a moment that is more likely to hurt her relationship with her younger sister than to upset her mother. And, again, the lack of insight is astounding -- after all the time she's spent following in her mother's footsteps, Sonnenberg choosing to be bitter and hold a grudge at the bitter end just seems ridiculous.To sum up, it's difficult to truly enjoy a memoir when the main "character" is someone you feel little sympathy with due to her own lack of ability to comment on her life rather than simply report it. Still, this book was captivating in its early parts and was a fairly quick read. Sonnenberg does have a talent for writing elegantly, even if it feels emotionless at times. But overall, this isn't a book I would go out of my way to recommend, especially given that there are far better memoirs out there.
  • (5/5)
    Wow, this is different from what I normally read. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages once I got started it was so hard to put down. I enjoyed reading about her story and how differently people are in this world. I have never experienced some of the things she has been through in my life and probably never will, but her memoirs tell a great story and how she has overcome some really different ways of thinking.
  • (5/5)
    This was a surprisingly great audio book. I was totally immersed in the story and the narrator did a great job. It's certainly not a story for the faint of heart, but if you're like me and love a good memoir, you'll be pleased.
  • (2/5)
    Too messy to be believed or enjoyed. Dragged on and I skipped to the end.
  • (1/5)
    Add an absent, cold jerk of a father to a psychopathic gold-digger of a mother and you end up with a neurotic narcissistic slut daughter. Actually, the only interesting parts of the book revolve around the crazy mother, a real evil witch character. The rest of the book is boring and self-centered. I feel very sorry for the incel who married this wasted high-mileage wreck. What kind of sick couple decides to kill their baby just to conceive another one a couple of months later, like someone trading a refrigerator?
  • (1/5)
    Odd delivery- couldn’t take the negatively -toned narration. sounds like she is telling the story in a phone conversation. i wanted to like it but no flavor in delivery
  • (5/5)
    Very moving, well written, brave. An unsentimental account of the craziness of growing up with an unpredictable (to say the least) parent. Everything in this book just worked for me and kept me wondering what was going to happen next.
  • (3/5)
    Her Last Death is Susanna Sonnenberg's memoir of her rocky history with her mother. It starts in what we are to take as the present when Sonnenberg has finally settled down to family life with her husband and two boys in Montana. It's there that she gets the call that her mother has been seriously injured in car accident, and it speaks volumes from the start that when she receives the call, she doesn't believe it's true. Sonnenberg faces the choice of whether to rush to what could be her mother's deathbed or not. At its heart, Her Last Death is, perhaps, an excuse for why she eventually couldn't bring herself to go. As Sonnenberg unpacks her memories of her effusive, overbearing mother who was addicted to painkillers, cocaine, and sex, who lied without a second thought, who stole her teenage boyfriends, who introduced her to cocaine at a young age, readers will find themselves ultimately sympathetic and disgusted with both mother and daughter.I didn't love Her Last Death, but there is that certain something about it that drew me in. Sonnenberg's writing is fluid and draws out the essence of her twisted childhood with skill. Well-chosen anecdotes are strung together to reveal the dynamic of a dangerous mother-daughter relationship. Sonnenberg actively loathes her mother, loves her, is frightened by her, is disgusted by her and is impressed by her. She wants to hold her mother at a distance but has a daughter's desire to share her biggest news with her mother even if she knows hurt will follow every time she makes a connection. Sonnenberg's memoir captivates with the same power of an Augusten Burroughs memoir, not because it's so enjoyable, but because it's well written and simply hard to look away from these train wrecks of lives so well depicted. I was enthralled by Sonnenberg's depiction of her early childhood with her wildly unpredictable mother. However, as Sonnenberg herself grows to adulthood, having affairs with married teachers and escaping into meaningless sex, I lost much of what sympathy I had for her which made the latter half of the book a bigger challenge. I was often disgusted by her behavior and unwilling to believe that her mother was at the root of the problem, which seems to be her desired angle. Certainly, a bad mother can damage a child, but at some point, the child grows up and has to take responsibility for her own actions which it seemed to take Sonnenberg an awful long time to do. Her Last Death is a fascinating and well-told story of a relationship, indeed it often is a well-balanced account of a mother's pros and cons, but when readers begin to lose sympathy for the memoirist, Her Last Death loses its bite.
  • (4/5)
    I have known people like Susanna's mother. They are capitivating and able to sweep people off their feet in no time flat, they are fun and exciting, flamboyant and spontaneous. Until you are exhausted from paying all the attention that someone with this personality disorder requires. Just depleted...This book is a wonderful depiction of what it would be like to grow up with a parent with boderline personality disorder. Susanna being able to turn away and break the cycle takes enormous strength (and probably a lot of counseling). Excellent.
  • (5/5)
    I picked up Susanna Sonnenberg’s memoir Her Last Death in the bargain bin at Border’s and it was one of my better finds among the myriad of books. The book opens with a phone call in which that Sonnenberg learns that her mother, who lives in Barbados, has been in a horrible car accident, and there is a good chance she is going to die. The story is about her decision to not go to her mother and why. There is too much history, too many lies, too many faked illnesses and almost deception about dying. She just can’t go through it again. Her real life, with her husband and sons, has weight and meaning, but her mother fictional life just wasn’t Sonnenberg’s real life anymore.The book continues to tell the story of Sonnenberg’s manifestation of what she believes her life was like with her mother. Her mother is addicted to painkillers, has a cocaine habit, engages in uncontrolled, irresponsible sex tryst’s, and could almost certainly be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Growing up at a young age, Susy how her mother lost her virginity, watches her mother having sex with a stream of bizarre men, and learns that sex is power and money equals independence.Susy has a very early strong interest in sex and she becomes fascinated with Penthouse magazines and almost fanatical with the development of her body and masturbation. Her mother acknowledges and condones Susy’s problem telling her simply “Go on, my little pervert. We have no secrets.”When this behavior extends into Susy’s life during college and in the early years of her adulthood, it really becomes quite exasperating. She is used to being used, to feeling empty, to lying and being lied to, and it seems that she is going to continue the cycle her mother modeled so graphically.Her Last Death is ultimately about the buoyancy of the individual spirit; it is also about how strongly the messages we collect as children profile our outlook. Sonnenberg’s writing is immediate and razor-sharp. She pulls you into her experiences and her point of view from the very first page, and she is not afraid to confront those topics that are upsetting, complex, and illicit.It is really hard for me to judge this book as a like or a dislike because I felt sorry for Susy from the first page. The book touched subjects usually left alone by authors. I am giving this book five stars because of the way it evoked such emotion and how well written it was.5 Stars
  • (5/5)
    A woman struggles to deal with the relationship between her and her mother.
  • (4/5)
    An emotional account of the troubling childhood Susanna Sonnenberg suffered through. Her mother is a liar and a cokehead who uses sex, lies, and drugs to make her way through life dragging her daughters behind her. Then when she is on her deathbed Susanna has to make the decision whether or not to go be by her side after everything she has been through. A miraculous tale. It's unimaginable how someone could come out on top after all of the suffering and misguidance.
  • (3/5)
    I used to really enjoy memoirs, back in the pre-Frey days where I didn't question their veracity. This one was very well written, but I found myself feeling 'enough' towards the middle and really wondering how much to trust the possibly selective and embellished memory of a woman who readily admits to lying as a way of life. Anyway, I wish her well in her Montana life.
  • (3/5)
    I've read a fair share of "My Screwed Up Childhood Bio's", this one is pretty much in the middle of the pack. The author talks about the painful decision not to be her Mother's bedside after a near fatal accident. By the end of the book you certainly can see why, but the story ultimately feels anti-climatic. It's hard to read Her Last Death and not think of The Glass Castle, which I feel is a far superior effort. Still, I don't want to completely knock Her Last Death, it does have some strong points and I did enjoy reading it. Perhaps though it would have been better to wait for the paperback version.
  • (1/5)
    I stopped roughly 3/4 through - just can't bring myself to listen to any more. I suppose I should've stopped when her mother is rushed to the hospital with a drug overdose, and a near-gangrenous infection where she'd been shooting up, yet there was no discussion of her being an unfit parent?. But, I let that pass and fast forwarded through the many tedious affairs of the author and her mother (requiring a scorecard indeed!). I've left Our Protaginist in Montana, stringing along a virgin lesbian (yes, they do have sex), while pining away for her soon-to-be (second) husband - a larger-than-life redemptive figure.The many, many salacious details are there for shock value, accruing TMI status fairly quickly. I'm sorry I used an Audible credit for it.
  • (5/5)
    Craziest mother ever. But she survived. Compulsively readable, very disturbing.