Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott

Imperfect Birds: A NovelPerfect is as perfect does. 

I received this book through LibraryThings' Early ReviewersThat intriguing title is is drawn from a quote by Rumi: “Each has to enter the nest made by the other imperfect bird.”

The book in one sentence: Mother and teenage daughter in a tug-of-war on drug use.

My thoughts: Anne Lamott is an incredible writer, weaving realistic pictures of relationships - of the strained communication, the power play, and the intimate emotional details. If you're a parent, this book just may shock you out of complacency. It's a very honest look at a mother-daughter relationship, and the honesty with which both sides are told will break your heart. Elizabeth, a stay-at-home mom, has a very close relationship with her lovely daughter Rosie. Or so she thinks. Rosie is a typical 17-year-old - she has her own little secrets of BFFs, boyfriends, parties, booze and later, drugs. While it started innocently enough as experimentation, her secrets eventually spin out of control. Elizabeth, herself a recovering alcoholic, is in denial (which spans on a greater part of the book) and she can't accept that Rosie isn't the sweet and perfect daughter she paints herself to be. When the lies become too obvious to bear, Elizabeth buckles up - despite her own problems - and steps in lest Rosie make a complete and utter wreck of her life.

This is a story that makes you very uncomfortable. Meant to address the very real issue of teenage drug use today, I'd recommend this for every parent. I loved the book up until the last few chapters --- which sort of digressed into a brochure for a recommended way of treating teenage drug use.

While this book is a sequel to a previous one, the story can stand as is. This is my first time to sample Lamott's work, and I'm looking forward to reading more!

First line: There are so many evils that pull at our children.

Last line: The doors slammed one by one, and the engine started up, but Elizabeth and James did not see the lights of the van up here, only the dim reading lamp by the bedside and the thin quartered moon through the ox-eye window, and they listened to the van pull away in the night. 

Verdict: Though a drag in some parts, a must-read for every parent with teenage kids.


  1. This book sounds very bold! I agree, it definitely sounds like something a parent with teenagers would find useful. Great review!

  2. hi emidy, that's the word for it, BOLD. no sugar coating here!


© guiltless readingMaira Gall