Pieta by William Zink
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.
Summary: Jim Priest's mother is dying. With his daughter beside him, he alternates caretaking duties with his sister. A year earlier his father died in a mysterious fashion—the head of the Virgin Mary from a lifelong sculpting project of The Pieta fell on top of him, killing him instantly. As days pass by, his mother falling in and out of coherency, the buried secrets of a bittersweet childhood re-emerge, forcing the four of them to accept, if not fully resolve, the limitations of their bonds. Pieta is a story about personal ambition, the anguish of unrequited affection, and the redemptive spirit of a young girl. In concise, elegant prose, William Zink examines the singular, yet universal, forces tugging at the hip of a family in the midst of its most epic chapter.
Review: A tragic tale of family dysfunction, the death of parents, and the breaking up of a family.
On the surface, Pieta is a story about a mother who has dementia and is dying and the son and daughter who are taking care of her. Of course it goes much deeper than that. The dynamics of families, including the dysfunctional dynamics, play a large part in the story and also in the upbringing of the son, Jim. I didn’t always understand the feelings one family member had to another or why a certain relationship would be the way it was. Everyone’s relationship to the other was so complex.
Despite not always understanding a relationship or a character’s motivations, I always did find this book very tragic. I have lost people before, including my grandfather, but those deaths were always or sudden. No one lingered. I can’t imagine the pain of seeing a loved one linger. My favorite character was Alex. Her reactions to her grandmother’s impending death were both poignant and sad. Occasionally, I did feel she was a bit too insightful for a six year old, but perhaps she was just especially precocious. She seemed the sanest out of all of them.
Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy family fiction.