Imperfect Birds: A Novel

by Lisa Kirchner

Elizabeth and her daughter, Rosie, stars of previous Anne Lamott books, are featured again in her latest novel, Imperfect Birds.

Rosie, now 17, has grown into every parents dream: attractive and popular, a straight-A student, a natural athlete, and a model daughter. Elizabeth, previously widowed, is now contentedly married to the smart and amusing James, who eagerly and deftly co-parents Rosie. The very beginning of the book carries all the sweet nodding in agreement in spite of myself moments of a Gilmore Girls episode, but Lamott soon reveals the chink in the facade of this familys seemingly blessed existence.

Finding herself in an existential stasis–torn between pleasing her parents and casting off the shroud of boredom that often suffocates those on the brink of adulthood–Rosie graduates from occasional weed smoking to using increasingly harder substances. In doing so, she transmogrifies into a young woman recognizable only to her equally broken peers. What ensues is one persons journey into the ruin of addiction and her parents terrified fight to save her from herself. Lamott’s writing is evocative, as she skillfully navigates the emotional landscapes of the worlds of parents and teenagers. Imperfect Birds is a finely wrought story of parental love, the self-loathing and narcissism of youth, and the light at the end of the tunnel.

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