My father had died only a few months before receiving this book, and I really didn't think I'd have the reaction I did to it. Mr. Zink's prose was so realistic and personal, that I couldn't continue reading at the time. I had never expected to have such a gut-wrenching reaction!! I ended up having to put it aside and waiting for a bit before trying to read it again.
I picked "Pieta" up again on New Year's morning and thought I'd give it another go. I didn't put it down until I was finished. What an amazing and heartfelt book!
The book centers on a very short period of time in the life of Jim Priest. He is preparing for his mother to die and he is taking care of her along with his sister. There are days he also brings along his 6 year old daughter so she can spend as much time with her grandmother before she passes. During this time, one gets glances of Jim's life, his struggle with his family - in both his married life as well as in his past childhood. His mother suffers from the last stages of Alzheimer's and when she becomes lucid, he learns a few key things from his past.
Jim's daughter brings clear the reality of life and death from such an innocent viewpoint - straight to the point and in a matter-of-fact tone. She balances out the pain and heartache with questions and a bit of humor that only a child can bring to such situations.
"Pieta" is less than 130 pages long, but the richness of the writing makes it as satisfying as a much longer novel. It deals with some very personal subjects and is quite a heavy read, but a very good read. This one is going to stay with me for a very, very long time.
Author William Zink
Publisher: Sugarloaf Press
Synopsis from Goodreads.com
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 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