book review: Imperfect Birds

Title: Imperfect Birds
Author: Anne Lamott
ISBN: 978-1594487514
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (April 6, 2010)
Category: literary fiction
Review source: publisher
Rating: B

But a third person inside Rosie calmly pointed out that it really was so much worse than Elizabeth imagined, way worse, all the raves and Ecstasy, all the unsafe sex she’d had before with Fenn, the times she’d gone down on some guy, all so shattering to recall, that is stopped her in her mental tracks—maybe she had been out of control for a while—and right when she looked up, her mother got this crazy look on her face where frozen disbelief met rage and weirdness the way it had that day on the trampoline three years ago, and that pierced Rosie, knowing what her mother looked like when she went crazy.

Rosie has always been a good student and a devoted daughter. An only child, she’s close enough to snuggle with her mom and remain curious about her step-dad’s work. The sweet child that her mom, Elizabeth, recalls is now a senior in high school and rebelling while keeping her surprising actions—taking drugs and having unsafe sex—hidden from her caring parents. Elizabeth struggles with depression, her husband works constantly and Rosie runs around with a guy in his 20s. Every parent’s nightmare. Rosie remains cunning for the longest time, hiding her drinking and drug-taking with relative ease. She lies and gains sympathy from her mom all the time. And she gets so many second chances and escapes being caught. Even after recently reading Restless Virgins, the true story of the Milton Academy scandal, I’m still shocked about the risks that young women [and men] take these days. Lamott does not shy away from her treatment of teen experimentation. Imperfect Birds is blunt and passionate.

Lamott writes with grace and precision. Those who’ve read Bird by Bird know that Lamott excels at the craft by formulating seemingly effortless compositions. In Imperfect Birds, Lamott brilliantly details the drug culture and sexual experimentation which permeates the lives of today’s teens. Her adept writing style and ability to craft an engaging story makes for a spellbinding read. Imperfect Birds, the story of this flawed family, resonates with disappointment, heartbreak, forgiveness and healing.

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