Saturday, August 21, 2010

Imperfect Birds - Anne Lamott

Set in Marin County, Imperfect Birds, is the story of a mother blinded to her high school honor-roll daughters spiral into drug addiction. Last year, I read the memoir Beautiful Boy, written by a father about his son's drug addicition - and his powerlessness to help. This is the female fictionalized version of that story- only, perhaps, with a little more enabling. Elizabeth is left the single mother of Rosie, after the death of her husband. She remarries, and her new husband and Rosie seem to have a somewhat amicable relationship - though throughout her troubles, he remains distant and critical of Elizabeth, often seeming to want her to choose between her daughter and her husband, rather than truly parenting in a partnership. Elizabeth, whether because of guilt, or perhaps her own relationship with her parents, seems to think it more important that her daughter like her and want to be her friend, rather than respecting her. As Rosie blantantly lies to her face about the drugs Elizabeth finds in her jean pockets, or the alcohol Elizabeth smells on her breath - the depths of denial and a parents desire to believe only the best about their child becomes increasingly difficult to read. At the same time, it is difficult to read this book and wonder what a parent really should do - and how much control one can have over a teenager, or how much "good parenting" can really prevent a kid's desire to experiment or have fun. All of this led to an incredibly frustrating and depressing read - similar to Beautiful Boy, just in the seeming helplessness of it all.

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