Monday, November 9, 2009

A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer

Last week I found myself unable to put down A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents. I found the story fascinating. It is a family drama, a mystery, a love story, and a bit of a comedy rolled into one fantastic book. If you’ve ever felt like your family can be the best thing and the worst thing that can happen to you, you’ve found a great book!

Grace Hawkes is preparing for a run with her co-workers when she gets a call from her sister Abigail that her father has had a stroke. What makes things more emotionally challenging is that her father abandoned his children twenty-two years before, and Grace abandoned her siblings five years before after her mother’s death. Grace rejoins her family and learns during times of crisis, it is better to face them together with your family, then to cut yourself off. She also meets her old flame John, a man she abandoned with her siblings. He now turns out to be her family’s lawyer during this time of crisis. Will Grace be able to rekindle the romance, or will she remain with her new boyfriend Tim?

The family also meets their father’s second wife (their stepmother) for the first time. When their stepmother turns out to be not quite what she appears to be, they have to pull together as a family. I don’t want to give away too much plot here, so that’s all I can say!

I loved this story. I enjoyed all of the unique characters. As one of four sibilings myself, I could identify with the family dynamics. Also sadly as I’ve gotten old, I’ve had to deal with the deaths of beloved Grandparents. I know that during such times, you have family that keeps you going, and you also have family that drives you crazy. It’s amazing what some people will do when money is involved! I also loved the romance – it fairly sizzled off the page!

I loved that the book was concisely written. I wasn’t left wanting more or feeling that it dragged on. The ending was perfect. I also loved the title – so witty! I want to bring this home with me for Thanksgiving and leave it lying around to see what my parents think about it.

The only negative I had with this novel was that some of the transitions from present to past were confusing. It would have been helped with a break in the text of some sort. As this was an advanced reading copy and not the actual novel, this will most likely be fixed by the time it is published.

Overall, this book was a great read. Although it is on the surface about the illness and death of parents, it is more about dealing with loss, and the importance of spending time with your family while you still have them. It does not become a depressing novel. One of its main strengths is that it remains a light, entertaining read. Also the mystery aspects of it kept me guessing and intrigued throughout. I would say I was riveted as I couldn’t put it down wanting to know how it was going to end! I need to check out Liza Palmer's other novels.

A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents will be released on December 23, 2009. Just in time for a last minute Christmas present!

Book Source: Advanced Reading Copy from Hachette Book Group. Thanks!!


  1. This sounds like such an interesting book and I think I might enjoy it. I lost both of my parents by the time I was nineteen so I'm thinking that I could relate to this one.

  2. This does sound very interesting. The title lets me know that there's humor in the story, which would be important here.

  3. The title almost made me skip right over your review, which would have been a shame. I love stories about family dynamics.

  4. This one sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the review!

  5. Thanks for the review - I read her first two books and really liked them. I agree with Stacy that I almost skipped over it due to the title until I recognized the author.