rating: 3 of 5 stars
I often find myself noticing themes and connections between books that I read close to each other. Recently, I went through an inadvertent “teenage girls having inappropriate relations with older men”- phase. I wasn’t seeking out books on this topic on purpose…it just happened. One of those books was Nabakov’s novel Laughter in the Dark and the other one was the memoir Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg.
In her memoir, Sonnenberg recounts her life from her childhood through adulthood, focusing mostly on her relationship with her drug-addicted, promiscuous, name-dropping, boyfriend-stealing mother, Daphne. Daphne is constantly telling stories of her relationships and encounters with famous and important figures.
Daphne helps her daughter Susanna celebrate her sweet sixteen by giving her her first line of coke. She also tries to push her daughters into having sex. She constantly shares stories of her sexual exploits with her daughters. Daphne treats her daughters more like they are her friends than her offspring.
Her Last Death is reminiscent of other memoirs about children being raised by less than ideal parents. I’ve read several other memoirs that fall into this category including Running with Scissors and The Glass Castle. In my opinion, Her Last Deathdoesn’t quite measure up to either of those. Frankly the book irritated me in some parts. It came across as self-absorbed and Sonnenberg didn’t quite make her descriptions of her experiences engaging and believable in a way that completely draws the reader into her life. Part of this could have been all of the blind-item-style name dropping. The writing was very strong in parts but overall was uneven. Sonnenberg does show promise though, and I would pick up something else she wrote if I came across it.