In 2011, I was checking my Twitter account and saw a re-tweet which introduced me to author, Tania Tirraoro. The first thing I noticed, upon checking her profile, was her background featuring covers of her books. I thought it was an excellent idea and followed suit with my own account.
However, even more than the idea of advertising freely in such a manner, I decided to check out some of her books and the cover for This Last Summer caught my attention. When I read the synopsis of the story I knew I had to read the book. In summary, This Last Summer portrays a family who had to deal with the repercussions of a depressed wife/mother (Amy) who fled her home and family without a word.
Fifteen years later, she resurfaces - though not in a way you would suspect - and the ensuing emotions run their course as each member of her family reacts in a different manner, especially when they learn she has a terminal illness.
The story is told in first-person with Maddie, Amy's daughter, being the narrator. She provides a glimpse of her innermost thoughts and feelings. In fact, Maddie's unforgiving attitude toward her mother carries throughout the book. Even so, we see her struggle as she tries to come to terms with everything, trying to understand.
She knows bitterness and anger will destroy her. However, she has trouble getting past the heartache she remembers as a child, wishing she could be held by her mom, wishing she could smell her fragrance.
At the same time, she doesn't want to alienate her father and brother and is truly in a dilemma because honesty, in this case, doesn't seem to be the best policy.
On a personal note, I've never been abandoned by either of my parents and I don't know too many people who have been. However, I do know people who struggle with depression and feelings of self-worthlessness. I know children who have been taken away from their homes because of one type of abuse or another.
I've seen children getting abused (in public places) and intervened because I couldn't watch it continue. You guessed right; I don't believe it's "none of my business" because when a child, or anyone, is being abused, others who know about it should be stepping in, taking measures to see that the abuse does not continue. After all, if a parent/caretaker can abuse a child in public, what is happening behind closed doors?
Because of these personal feelings, I can appreciate Amy's fear that she would harm her family, especially her children, in worse ways by staying home. Seeing the things I've seen with my own eyes, I can't judge her for making the decision that she did; I truly think she made that decision out of love for her children and self-preservation. She had no control over the decision her husband would make to keep her annual letters a secret from their children.
At the core of the matter, was Amy selfish? Maddie seems to think so and continually paints her that way. However, in my opinion, Maddie was probably more selfish than her mother, wanting everyone to see things as she saw them.
The truth of the matter, though, is that after returning, Amy didn't force anything upon anyone. No one had to accept her nor spend time with her. Even so, she did take advantage of the decisions her family made but, in all honesty, would you be any different? Would I? The way I see it is that, even in Amy's final act, she wanted to spare her family from further suffering.
I'd be interested in hearing your own impressions. This Last Summer would make a great topic for debate.