In this collection, sixteen writers (including the editor, in her introduction) recount the deaths of one or both of their parents. They explore a wide range of questions: about the relationship between parents and their children, about the inevitability of the loss of that relationship (if it is lost in death, for, as the editor asks, "is the death of a parent really the end of the relationship?" [p. 2]), and about the conflicts that arise between the necessary separation that comes with adulthood and the complex ongoing attachments which in these stories enrich, haunt, inform and in many ways determine the lives of the tellers.


The deaths described in this moving and thought-provoking collection range from the sudden and untimely, as in Gillian Slovo's account of the murder of her mother, and Peter Martin's of his mother's suicide, to the awaited and gradual but nonetheless momentous, as in the deaths of Bruce Kent's aged parents while long-term residents in a hospice. These deaths are met with reactions that reveal much, from Susha Guppy's desolation when told of her father dying far away in Iran, to Sally Vincent's bitter relief in "Nothing but contempt."

Along the way, issues of aging, disability, terminal illness, abandonment, remembering, and caring are explored in moving and enlightening ways. And perhaps most powerfully, in each case, the parent's death leads to a reevaluation of the writer's adult identity, the establishment of a new self that must go on in the world without the comfort of being someone's child.



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Jane McLoughlin

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