If you are tickled whenever you see a glimpse of Pasadena in a movie or TV show, then Liza Palmer’s A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents will deliver the same thrill. This family drama set against a San Gabriel Valley backdrop will have locals nodding their heads and murmuring “I know that place!” with mentions of All Saints Church, a house on California Terrace, Gus’s BBQ and negotiating traffic around the Rose Parade route. This is the third book for novelist and playwright Palmer, who, not surprisingly, lives in Pasadena.
The curious title refers to the lack of a guidebook for adult children facing their parents’ demise.
We totally enjoyed the read, as did the folks at Vroman’s. They described it best, as follows:
Grace Hawkes has not spoken to her previously tight-knit family since her mother’s sudden death five years ago. Well, most of the family was tight-knit — her father walked out on them when she was 13, and she and her two brothers and sister bonded even closer with their mother as a result.
She’s been doing her best to live her new life apart from them, but when their estranged father has a stroke and summons them, Grace suddenly realizes she’s done the same thing he had done… abandoned those who need her most.
And need her they do, for inside the hospital walls, a strange war is unfolding between the pseudo-kindly woman who is their father’s second wife and the rest of the original Hawkes clan. Upon reconnecting with her brother and sisters, Grace will find a part of herself she thought was lost forever. As they unravel the manipulative deception of the second Mrs. Hawkes, Grace will finally be able to stand up for her family — and to remember what a family is, even after all these years.
A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents, by Liza Palmer (paperback, $13.99). Available at vromansbookstore.com and other local booksellers.