If the title doesn't pull at you, there is something wrong with you.
There is nothing like ten days with one's family to stir up childhood memories. When Anna, Portia, and Emery's mother Louise, suffers a massive heart attack, the three grown children return to Santa Barbara as they wait for Louise to either recover or die.
Anna can't stop thinking about sex with strangers, though in junior high she was terrifyingly certain that her free-loving parents had syphilis. Portia's beach-bunny teen years feel far away as she struggles with an unfaithful husband who has left her feeling boneless and unsure. And though Emery's greatest childhood fear was that The Law would catch up with their parents for any one of the numerous transgressions, now his only worry is that he won't be able to create his own family, a newer, better version that will trump the chaos that ruled his childhood.
But time together also brings to the surface that sometimes painful, often heartbreaking secrets that will shake the foundations of everything the siblings know about themselves and their family-secrets that may, perhaps, change the way they view the past as well as the future.
Before I get into the review, I will tell you- I loved this book. I loved it because I could relate to it. I think most people would agree that most families are quirky and weird and no family is like the other. My family is just me, my brother, my mom, and my step dad. And I remember growing up knowing my parents were not like the other parents and I remembered thinking how weird they were. My parent's didn't volunteer, they didn't cart me and my friends around wherever we wanted to go, they treated us like mini adults in a sense but laid down the law. We didn't have the deep family discussions- you only came to them if you had a problem and if it wasn't major you figured it out on your own. My brother and I are similar but way different. I'm very nose-in-a-book and studious, sarcastic and giving. He's very athletic, funny, and kind hearted. We get along great and I go to my brother when I have a problem before I go to my mom sometimes. We were raised with the mentality that no matter what- love your sibling because someday it'll be all we have.
So I related to this book in that sense, but also the sense that eventually- your parents will pass away. With my dad's heart attack this year it drove that point home to us- either one of them could go any day. And it brings up childhood memories and you think about the things you'd miss when they leave.
The parents in this book remind me of my own in a way and I loved it. Some of the things they say are things my mom and dad would say. The conversations the siblings had are conversations like I've had with my own brother. It felt like this is the story of what would happen if one of my parents were maybe dying in a hospital.
I loved how you got a glimpse into the childhood of each child and then their present day life. I loved how the author tied it all together before she presented the "secrets" part of it and how it would maybe shape the future of the family. I can't tell you how I felt about the ending without giving it away but when I read it I thought, "yeah... I kind of knew it'd end like this" because in retrospect- the book is written after the ending event. So it makes sense on how it was written now that I know how it ended. That means nothing to you but it's a thought I had afterwards.
What I also admired about this book is how it really drives home the point that so often people say their childhood is the excuse for why they do things, often destructive things, as an adult. And really? It's not an excuse. As an adult you learn how to look at something and say, "Well- that's how they did it, that's how they thought.. but I can and will do better." Just because your parents think a certain way, or do something a certain way, it doesn't mean it's the right way. And as adults you have to figure that out and how to rise above it- how to be a better person.
I highly recommend this book for anybody who's facing the reality that eventually.. your parents will pass away. Anyone who has had a hard time at reconciling their childhood and just saying, "It's ok. No matter what it was... it's in the past and it doesn't shape who I am today." It's a good book and there were parts where I really laughed out loud and some parts that reminded me of a favorite childhood memory of my own. Definitely recommend.