A New York Times and Los Angeles Times Bestseller
“The wonder of this memoir is that the author survived her traumatic childhood and found
a way of turning her memories into a fiercely observed, fluently written book….
Writing in sharp, crystalline prose, Ms. Sonnenberg… plung(es) readers into a sort of perpetual
present tense in which we are made to experience, almost firsthand, the inexplicable and perverse
behavior of an impossible woman from the point of view of her aghast, bedazzled — and
immensely gifted — daughter.”
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
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 writes 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 searingly beautiful.
“An emotional thriller…a disturbing story, yet at the end you
might feel like cheering. It is a beautiful, beautiful book.”
Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes
“An irresistible book that is shimmering with life
and the portrait of a glorious, frenzied, seductive
woman who of necessity has been left, along with
Susanna Sonnenberg’s young womanhood, behind. Her mother.”
James Salter, author of Last Night and Burning the Days
“All mothers are con artists on occasion. But what
if yours is a compulsive liar and a serial charmer who
accuses you of seducing her boyfriend and who
seduces you with cocaine — when you’re twelve? Susanna
Sonnenberg’s was a booby-trapped childhood, of which she
writes unnervingly, and with crisp control. Her pages
are remarkable as much for their style as for their intelligence;
the portrait is indelible.”
Stacy Schiff, author of Vera [Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov]
Susanna Sonnenberg speaks about Her Last Death