A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents
5 Spot (Grand Central), Dec 2009, $13.99
When Grace Hawkes was thirteen years old, her father Ray deserted her mom, her three younger siblings and her. Stunned the family rallied to support one another. Fifteen years after Ray walked out on them their mom died. After the burial, Grace left behind the family not talking to anyone for the past five years.
Ray suffers a stroke and asks his three adult children to visit him. His illness provides Grace with an epiphany that she emulated the worst thing her dad did to the family. She expects nasty treatment for abandoning them, but vows to make it up as much as she can. Ray’s second wife Connie welcomes Grace, but she suspects her stepmother of duplicity. Shocking everyone, Ray gives power of attorney to Grace; even more stunning to Ray’s offspring is there no evidence that Connie lived in his house. Instead the home is a shrine to his first family. Encouraged by her adult son Dennis, Connie considers suing the four Hawkes.
This is an entertaining family drama that focuses mostly on Grace’s relationship with her late mom, her dad and her siblings. Her grief when her mom died drove her away as every person mourns a loss of a loved one differently even as each goes through the general grief phases. Although the ending is too rosy for the complicated poignat character driven story line, fans will enjoy Liza Palmer’s on the spot Field Guide to Burying Your Parents.