Review

Imperfect Birds

by Anne Lamott

Elizabeth Ferguson is a cool and groovy mom. She never lied to
her daughter Rosie about sex, dating, politics, or drugs, and isn't
above a little experimentation herself. However, Rosie --- the
blossoming scholar, the gorgeous lanky presence that fills the
family's every moment --- is about to enter her senior year of high
school in fancy-schmancy Marin County, San Francisco. With nearly
straight A's every year and rankings that make her a state tennis
champ, Rosie could have her pick of colleges, perhaps with
scholarships, even Ivy League ones at that. However, Rosie's bright
future clashes with the temptations of youth and privilege, and
suddenly those dreams are on hold while all hands on deck try to
keep at bay death or physical destruction.

It doesn't make the situation any easier for Elizabeth, who
struggles with her own devilish addictions to alcohol. Although
it's been years since she's been off the wagon, Elizabeth feels the
call of her addiction on a daily basis. So when Rosie begins to
wander off down that path --- first skipping, then flat-out running
--- Elizabeth finds it hard to strike a balance between being the
understanding but firm parent and the angry, cautious ex-addict who
knows exactly where Rosie's wanderings are taking her.

Rosie loves her parents, including her father James, who’s
a writer. However, as all well-meaning parents do in this day and
age of literally sparing the rod and spoiling the child,
Rosie’s mother and father don't have the arsenal with which
to handle her ever-increasing lies and scrapes in the world of
drugs and sex. As she becomes more out of control, Elizabeth and
James learn swift lessons about parenthood and how sometimes the
best measures are to stand back and let others fight those battles
for them and with Rosie. Rosie's friends and her boyfriend, some of
whom are ensconced in the druggie life to begin with, don't help
matters, and yet Elizabeth and James find themselves unable to
extract her from her social environment. Sometimes they win and
often they lose, but they always move forward, following Rosie from
bad situation to bad situation, trying their best to overcome their
own demons and make sense of the horrors that could await their
blessed only child.

Anne Lamott incorporates discussions about money, sexuality,
responsibility and the spiritual clutching one does in times of
need into this story about parents and children, the inevitable
rivers that pull their two shores farther and farther apart, and
how even the ones who seem perfect harbor demons that at any time
could suck their life into a void, never to return. IMPERFECT BIRDS
--- a sequel to 1997's CROOKED LITTLE HEART and 1983's ROSIE --- is
about just that: people who have the wings (whether it be
experience, talent, money, or a big heart) to fly beyond the ether.
And yet it is just these lucky ones who have the most difficulty
finding the best balance of the mundane and the profane to fuel
their lifelong search for adventure, love and themselves.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011

Imperfect Birds
by Anne Lamott

  • Publication Date: April 6, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 1594487510
  • ISBN-13: 9781594487514