Lieberman’s (Optimal Distance: A Divided Life, Part One, 2017) autobiography continues with this second installment, which resumes her story just after her schizophrenic mother’s passing.
Near the start of this book, the author eloquently equates her mother’s death to “an amputation that left behind a phantom limb still sending alarm signals to my brain.” The event also gave the author a new perspective on her own fate and “definitely made me eager to start my life over.” With remarkable recollection, she retraces her own life after her mother became a memory, unhurriedly recounting decades of devoted child-rearing and pet raising and the joys and struggles of her career and family life. When her own daughter moved away to college, she reconsidered the surgery that prevented her from having further pregnancies, despite her husband’s initial objections. She reversed the procedure and had a son, Eben, in 1983, 20 years after the birth of her first child, Olivia. A struggle against breast cancer clouded her mid-40s, but she managed to start a preschool and experienced great improvement after treatment with an experimental drug. She endured an unforeseen remission in 1992, which reframed her life once more. Later, she went on to care for her mother-in-law in Florida. The daily foibles and adventures of the author and her mother-in-law in these later pages add some welcome levity and humor to this impassioned autobiography and demonstrate the author’s talent for zesty prose before the predication of her own declining health takes over the book’s concluding chapters. Still, as readers may expect after the last volume, Lieberman effectively shows how her abiding spirit delivers her from death’s door again and again. Although the sunny skies in this remembrance often seem to be few and far between, readers will still get immense satisfaction from knowing that Lieberman made it through—and that she has happiness, love, and precious children to show for it. As in her first installment, the author generously supplies family photographs that greatly embellish and enhance her moving chronicle of motherhood.
A memorable, rewarding family saga of familial love and unbridled determination.