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Her Last Death: A Memoir

Her Last Death: A Memoir


Her Last Death: A Memoir

ratings:
3/5 (187 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Released:
Jan 1, 2008
ISBN:
9780743569811
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as ebookEbook

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Description

Her Last Death begins as the phone rings early one morning in the Montana house where Susanna Sonnenberg lives with her husband and two young sons. Her aunt is calling to tell Susanna her mother is in a coma after a car accident. She might not live. Any daughter would rush the thousands of miles to her mother's bedside. But Susanna cannot bring herself to go. Her courageous memoir explains why.

Glamorous, charismatic and a compulsive liar, Susanna's mother seduced everyone who entered her orbit. With outrageous behavior and judgment tinged by drug use, she taught her child the art of sex and the benefits of lying. Susanna struggled to break out of this compelling world, determined, as many daughters are, not to become her mother.

Sonnenberg mines tender and startling memories as she tells of her fierce resolve to forge her independence, to become a woman capable of trust, and to be a good mother to her own children. Her Last Death is riveting, disarming and stunningly told.
Released:
Jan 1, 2008
ISBN:
9780743569811
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

Susanna Sonnenberg is the author of Her Last Death. She lives in Montana with her family.


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Reviews

What people think about Her Last Death

3.2
187 ratings / 18 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Similar to Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle in that it tells the story of a childhood so traumatic that one wonders at the fact that the author actually grew up to have a seemingly normal life, Her Last Death is a compelling, engaging read in that train wreck sort of way. You know that you shouldn’t be fascinated by such horrible events, but you can’t look away. Add to that the persistent questions about what we can and can’t believe because, as Sonnenberg reveals, one never really knows how much of what her mother says is truth, and by extension, how many of her experiences could have been changed or prevented, and you’ve got one hell of an interesting life.It’s hard to say you enjoyed a book like this because, really, you spend a great portion of it feeling sorry for Susy and angry at her mother, but it is a very good read for a specific kind of reader.Read my full review at The Book Lady's Blog.
  • (4/5)
    Susanna Sonnenberg writes a scandalously fascinating memoir of her most unorthodox upbringing by an outrageous, drug-addicted, compulsively-lying (yet compellingly charismatic) mother, and a distant, and, often, disapproving father. At times, it was slightly reminiscent of Augusten Burrough's memoir, "Running with Scissors", in it's ability to be both disarming and tender at the same time. A great read!
  • (5/5)
    Wow, this is different from what I normally read. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages once I got started it was so hard to put down. I enjoyed reading about her story and how differently people are in this world. I have never experienced some of the things she has been through in my life and probably never will, but her memoirs tell a great story and how she has overcome some really different ways of thinking.
  • (5/5)
    Wow, this is different from what I normally read. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages once I got started it was so hard to put down. I enjoyed reading about her story and how differently people are in this world. I have never experienced some of the things she has been through in my life and probably never will, but her memoirs tell a great story and how she has overcome some really different ways of thinking.
  • (5/5)
    This was a surprisingly great audio book. I was totally immersed in the story and the narrator did a great job. It's certainly not a story for the faint of heart, but if you're like me and love a good memoir, you'll be pleased.
  • (2/5)
    Too messy to be believed or enjoyed. Dragged on and I skipped to the end.
  • (1/5)
    Add an absent, cold jerk of a father to a psychopathic gold-digger of a mother and you end up with a neurotic narcissistic slut daughter. Actually, the only interesting parts of the book revolve around the crazy mother, a real evil witch character. The rest of the book is boring and self-centered. I feel very sorry for the incel who married this wasted high-mileage wreck. What kind of sick couple decides to kill their baby just to conceive another one a couple of months later, like someone trading a refrigerator?
  • (1/5)
    Odd delivery- couldn’t take the negatively -toned narration. sounds like she is telling the story in a phone conversation. i wanted to like it but no flavor in delivery
  • (5/5)
    Very moving, well written, brave. An unsentimental account of the craziness of growing up with an unpredictable (to say the least) parent. Everything in this book just worked for me and kept me wondering what was going to happen next.
  • (3/5)
    Her Last Death is Susanna Sonnenberg's memoir of her rocky history with her mother. It starts in what we are to take as the present when Sonnenberg has finally settled down to family life with her husband and two boys in Montana. It's there that she gets the call that her mother has been seriously injured in car accident, and it speaks volumes from the start that when she receives the call, she doesn't believe it's true. Sonnenberg faces the choice of whether to rush to what could be her mother's deathbed or not. At its heart, Her Last Death is, perhaps, an excuse for why she eventually couldn't bring herself to go. As Sonnenberg unpacks her memories of her effusive, overbearing mother who was addicted to painkillers, cocaine, and sex, who lied without a second thought, who stole her teenage boyfriends, who introduced her to cocaine at a young age, readers will find themselves ultimately sympathetic and disgusted with both mother and daughter.I didn't love Her Last Death, but there is that certain something about it that drew me in. Sonnenberg's writing is fluid and draws out the essence of her twisted childhood with skill. Well-chosen anecdotes are strung together to reveal the dynamic of a dangerous mother-daughter relationship. Sonnenberg actively loathes her mother, loves her, is frightened by her, is disgusted by her and is impressed by her. She wants to hold her mother at a distance but has a daughter's desire to share her biggest news with her mother even if she knows hurt will follow every time she makes a connection. Sonnenberg's memoir captivates with the same power of an Augusten Burroughs memoir, not because it's so enjoyable, but because it's well written and simply hard to look away from these train wrecks of lives so well depicted. I was enthralled by Sonnenberg's depiction of her early childhood with her wildly unpredictable mother. However, as Sonnenberg herself grows to adulthood, having affairs with married teachers and escaping into meaningless sex, I lost much of what sympathy I had for her which made the latter half of the book a bigger challenge. I was often disgusted by her behavior and unwilling to believe that her mother was at the root of the problem, which seems to be her desired angle. Certainly, a bad mother can damage a child, but at some point, the child grows up and has to take responsibility for her own actions which it seemed to take Sonnenberg an awful long time to do. Her Last Death is a fascinating and well-told story of a relationship, indeed it often is a well-balanced account of a mother's pros and cons, but when readers begin to lose sympathy for the memoirist, Her Last Death loses its bite.
  • (4/5)
    I have known people like Susanna's mother. They are capitivating and able to sweep people off their feet in no time flat, they are fun and exciting, flamboyant and spontaneous. Until you are exhausted from paying all the attention that someone with this personality disorder requires. Just depleted...This book is a wonderful depiction of what it would be like to grow up with a parent with boderline personality disorder. Susanna being able to turn away and break the cycle takes enormous strength (and probably a lot of counseling). Excellent.
  • (5/5)
    I picked up Susanna Sonnenberg’s memoir Her Last Death in the bargain bin at Border’s and it was one of my better finds among the myriad of books. The book opens with a phone call in which that Sonnenberg learns that her mother, who lives in Barbados, has been in a horrible car accident, and there is a good chance she is going to die. The story is about her decision to not go to her mother and why. There is too much history, too many lies, too many faked illnesses and almost deception about dying. She just can’t go through it again. Her real life, with her husband and sons, has weight and meaning, but her mother fictional life just wasn’t Sonnenberg’s real life anymore.The book continues to tell the story of Sonnenberg’s manifestation of what she believes her life was like with her mother. Her mother is addicted to painkillers, has a cocaine habit, engages in uncontrolled, irresponsible sex tryst’s, and could almost certainly be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Growing up at a young age, Susy how her mother lost her virginity, watches her mother having sex with a stream of bizarre men, and learns that sex is power and money equals independence.Susy has a very early strong interest in sex and she becomes fascinated with Penthouse magazines and almost fanatical with the development of her body and masturbation. Her mother acknowledges and condones Susy’s problem telling her simply “Go on, my little pervert. We have no secrets.”When this behavior extends into Susy’s life during college and in the early years of her adulthood, it really becomes quite exasperating. She is used to being used, to feeling empty, to lying and being lied to, and it seems that she is going to continue the cycle her mother modeled so graphically.Her Last Death is ultimately about the buoyancy of the individual spirit; it is also about how strongly the messages we collect as children profile our outlook. Sonnenberg’s writing is immediate and razor-sharp. She pulls you into her experiences and her point of view from the very first page, and she is not afraid to confront those topics that are upsetting, complex, and illicit.It is really hard for me to judge this book as a like or a dislike because I felt sorry for Susy from the first page. The book touched subjects usually left alone by authors. I am giving this book five stars because of the way it evoked such emotion and how well written it was.5 Stars
  • (5/5)
    A woman struggles to deal with the relationship between her and her mother.
  • (4/5)
    An emotional account of the troubling childhood Susanna Sonnenberg suffered through. Her mother is a liar and a cokehead who uses sex, lies, and drugs to make her way through life dragging her daughters behind her. Then when she is on her deathbed Susanna has to make the decision whether or not to go be by her side after everything she has been through. A miraculous tale. It's unimaginable how someone could come out on top after all of the suffering and misguidance.
  • (3/5)
    I used to really enjoy memoirs, back in the pre-Frey days where I didn't question their veracity. This one was very well written, but I found myself feeling 'enough' towards the middle and really wondering how much to trust the possibly selective and embellished memory of a woman who readily admits to lying as a way of life. Anyway, I wish her well in her Montana life.
  • (3/5)
    I've read a fair share of "My Screwed Up Childhood Bio's", this one is pretty much in the middle of the pack. The author talks about the painful decision not to be her Mother's bedside after a near fatal accident. By the end of the book you certainly can see why, but the story ultimately feels anti-climatic. It's hard to read Her Last Death and not think of The Glass Castle, which I feel is a far superior effort. Still, I don't want to completely knock Her Last Death, it does have some strong points and I did enjoy reading it. Perhaps though it would have been better to wait for the paperback version.
  • (1/5)
    I stopped roughly 3/4 through - just can't bring myself to listen to any more. I suppose I should've stopped when her mother is rushed to the hospital with a drug overdose, and a near-gangrenous infection where she'd been shooting up, yet there was no discussion of her being an unfit parent?. But, I let that pass and fast forwarded through the many tedious affairs of the author and her mother (requiring a scorecard indeed!). I've left Our Protaginist in Montana, stringing along a virgin lesbian (yes, they do have sex), while pining away for her soon-to-be (second) husband - a larger-than-life redemptive figure.The many, many salacious details are there for shock value, accruing TMI status fairly quickly. I'm sorry I used an Audible credit for it.
  • (5/5)
    Craziest mother ever. But she survived. Compulsively readable, very disturbing.