AT THE END OF WORDS by Miriam Stone


A Daughter’s Memoir
Age Range: 14 & up
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A sensitive and poetic examination of the author’s mother’s last days, this spare memoir provides a distinctly literary alternative for fans of traditional teen weepers as well as an inspiration for aspiring writers. Stone’s remembrance opens in September of her senior year in high school. Her mother, having battled cancer for years, is now riddled with a brain cancer from which there is no hope of survival. Brief vignettes alternate with poems as the author describes helping her mother order clothing that will accommodate her medical paraphernalia, wheeling her mother along on a visit to a college campus, putting her in hospice care, and watching her last breaths: “I watch her rise / and fall. / In between breaths, / the room throbs. / My fingers scream. / I wait for her white / cheeks to move. / My heart stops. / I stare until / the breathing breaks.” The raw emotion has been tempered by meticulous writing: the author’s resentment of her mother’s effect on her own life, her relief at her mother’s death and concomitant release from pain, her sorrow when she realizes that her mother cannot share in her excitement over her college acceptance, her ambivalence surrounding her father’s re-entry into the dating world are all presented honestly, and without mawkishness. Now a senior in college, Stone displays a surprising control and command of image and pacing, only very occasionally allowing herself the luxury of overwriting. By choosing to cover both the periods before and after her mother’s death, the narrative gives room for the full play of emotion and the beginning of recovery. This offering stands as a moving tribute to a lovely and loving mother and daughter relationship. (Memoir. YA)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7636-1854-3
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2003