Summary (via Goodreads): Everything seems just perfect in Grace's life. She's got a great job, a lovely house, a handsome boyfriend – and she's pretty happy with it all.
Except that Grace has got a secret. She has a family. One she ran away from when life got too tough. Not to mention John, the only man she ever truly loved, who she left behind as well.
So when her sister finally tracks her down – to announce that their estranged father is in hospital – Grace has to make a decision. She can stay in the safe little world she's carved out for herself, or she can go home. To face the music. But going home really isn't as easy as it seems. Especially when the music seems to be playing a funeral march, her siblings are beyond furious with her, and their father's second wife is behaving very strangely indeed….
A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents is a heartbreakingly funny story about life, loss and what it really means to come home.
Review: I have to get one thing off my chest before I really get into this review. Something bugged me about this book from one of the first few scenes and has stuck with me every time I think about this book that I just have to address with Liza Palmer.
Liza, love you, but the game Sorry, isn't played with dice! It's played with cards. Sorry, the long-time-Sorry-playin'-OCD-freak in me just needed to get that off my chest.
Phew. Now that's done, I can talk about how much I enjoyed this book. It starts off a little slow and, to be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to love Grace in the beginning, but all my reservations flew out the window as we meet the rest of the Hawkes clan. I realized as the novel progressed how much the Grace I met in the first scene was a shadow of herself without her family around. Palmer has a way with characters; each of the siblings felt very real and well-rounded. Grace's younger brother Leo is downright adorable. He's a giant skinny, lovable, genius puppy that I just wanted to hug throughout the entire book. (In my head, he's basically Lee Pace)
The sibling relationship are complicated, messy, but full of love. Palmer weaves flashbacks in with the present seemlessly giving me the feeling that I've grown up in this family, too. Palmer dispenses with Grace's boyfriend fairly quickly and without much explanation, but it doesn't matter because the second John and Grace are on the page together they have such chemistry I kind of forget about the boyfriend altogether.
Palmer creates a good balance between the emotion and the plot, creating one of the more odious step-families since Cinderella. I was constantly torn between tears and spewing outrage on the Hawkes children's behalf.
This is a quick, enjoyable read like I'd expect from Palmer, whose first novel Conversations with the Fat Girl is one of my chick lit favorites. A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents is emotional but hopeful tale of family, love, and knowing it's never too late to go home again.
Lit Snit Verdit: B+