A Daughter's Story of Love, Loss,
and Letting Go
Praise & Reviews
"I could quote from the book all day. . . but instead I'll just recommend that those intrigued by the subject spend a little time with the ailing but ferocious Margaret and her daughters. A decision to die can sound romantic or it can sound repugnant. Carter shows us what it was like in reality."
—Paula Span, The New York Times
"Imperfect Endings is engaged with essential ethical questions... full of grace and acceptance."
—Robin Romm, San Francisco Chronicle
"An engaging and insightful tale of familial love, understanding, and forgiveness, shot through with a surprising amount of wit." read review
—The Boston Globe
“I love this book! Zoe Carter has taken what could be a very sad story and turned it into something beautiful and incredibly insightful. Her portrayal of her mother is wonderful, and reveals in moving and illuminating detail a slice of Washington life.”
— Kate Lehrer, author of Confessions of a Bigamist
Imperfect Endings is articulate and exceptionally written, focusing on humor and emotional honesty. It's quite a wonderful experience to read about Margaret's life and, in the end, (the book) becomes a tribute to a lovely woman who made a brave choice. One promise I'll make is that if you read this, you will never forget it. read review
—Melanie Smith (BookReporter)
“Carter coaxes beauty from the bleak in this book about the months after Margaret, who has Parkinson’s, tells her three girls she plans to ‘end things’ and wants them to be there when she does. Ultimately, in losing her, Carter finds a mother she never thought she’d know.”
First-time memoirist Carter comes close to perfection in this chronicle of her mother's quest to orchestrate her own assisted suicide. Suffering from debilitating Parkinson's disease, Carter's elderly mother decides that she wants to die with dignity before she is wholly incapacitated. One problem with assisted suicide, however, is that it requires assistance, and no one in the family is willing to take on such complicity. With surprising humor and sensitivity, Carter presents the struggle to come to terms with mortality and family dynamics. A counterpoint to Derek Humphry's Final Exit and winner of the 2008 Pacific Northwest Writers Association's literary contest.
—Library Journal, Starred Review
"Zoe FitzGerald Carter delivers a moving and darkly funny account of this elusive and often grim topic."
This memoir is a great read for anyone, whether interested in end-of-life issues, investigating the assisted suicide debate, grappling with family issues, or facing a major loss, or just looking for a good story.
Carter expertly examines this turmoil (around her mother dying) and all its accompanying angst, frustration, resentment and introspection.She recounts what was obviously a terribly difficult time with brutal honesty and is candid about the mix of emotions she experienced.There is something about the depth and breadth of the analysis that sets this book apart from others in the same genre. read review
I was extremely caught up in this family's ordeal and despite knowing how the story ultimately ended, I felt as if I wanted to know how Ms. Carter and her sisters were able to accept things and eventually move on. I didn't find this book to be incredibly sad and dark. Rather, I found Ms. Carter's story to be inspirational and quite full of life. It is a fantastic story and one that brings to light some very important topics. Since I feel that this book is very relevant to so many of us, I think it would make a terrific book club pick. read review
“Imperfect Endings raises difficult questions about love and loyalty, but it is written with such style and sympathy that it is difficult to put down.”
—Frances Dinkelspiel, San Francisco Chronicle's “City Brights” blog
“A poignant memoir of a daughter's struggle to accept her mother's death.”
"In her wise and moving memoir, journalist Zoe Carter tackles a difficult subject—her mother's decision to end her own life after years of severe illness. Many of us will find ourselves facing this kind of dilemma as our parents move towards death and I cannot imagine a better guide than this thoughtful, compassionate book."
— Julie Metz, author of Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal
"A beautifully written story of pain and loss, spiked with subtle humor and gentle wisdom."
— Judy Bachrach, of the checkoutline.org, and author of Tina and Harry Come to America: Tina Brown, Harry Evans, and the Price of Power
"This is a powerfully passionate story with ethical undertones relating to death and dying; end-of-life care; and assisted suicide … including discussions about specific “how-to’s” and the tensions between western medicine’s focus on keeping the patient alive and an individual’s wish to die with dignity. It is also a poignantly personal story about unconditional love, family dynamics and forgiveness.The angst of it all is effectively captured by a writer who can open a window to her soul and at the same time challenge readers to dialogue with themselves and loved ones about the “what if’s” of life – and death."
“Imperfect Endings, by Zoe Fitzgerald Carter, is so good, it could be a primer on how to write a memoir.”
— Marlene Cullen