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Extended Audio Sample Imperfect Endings: A Daughter’s Tale of Life and Death, by Zoe FitzGerald Carter Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (214 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Zoe FitzGerald Carter Narrator: Karen White Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2010 ISBN: 9781400186242
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After twenty years of living with a terminal illness, Zoe FitzGerald Carter’s mother decided to end her life—and asked her three daughters for their assistance. For months, the decision dragged on as her mother changed her methods and schedule, and the negotiations stirred up old memories, sibling rivalries, and questions about family loyalty. Eventually, there was compromise and courage, and Zoe’s mother had her happy—if imperfect—ending.

Zoe and her sisters struggled to accept the imminent death of their mother, circling around the same questions: Who will help her? Will they go to jail? Can they bear to let her die alone? With a doctor prescribing lethal doses of sleep medication, a visit from a member of the Hemlock Society’s “Final Exit Network,” and the temptations of overdosing on morphine, the issues and people in Imperfect Endings are at the center of the debate on assisted suicide.

With echoes of bestselling grief memoirs like Elegy for Iris and The Year of Magical Thinking, Carter’s memoir is the unforgettable story of a family learning to love and to let go.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Carter tackles a depressing subject with dark humor and heart.”

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eileen | 2/19/2014

    " Powerful read about choosing to end one's life when the struggle to live is too hard. A compelling read if you have elderly parents. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carla Ford | 2/18/2014

    " All family dynamics are different, and outsiders can never truly understand the workings of anyone else's family. Zoe certainly had a lot to deal with here, and I can only hope that I would be able to handle the same situation with the same grace and patience. There were several times, as I read her story, that I would like to have had a little talk with her mother and tell her to stop and give her children a little consideration and respect. But, that's why I tried to keep in mind that the inner workings of every family are unique to that family. Having said all that, I thought this book addressed a very sensitive subject in a wonderfully open and direct manner, and certainly did cause me to assess some of my own feelings about how I would like to die if my circumstances were similar. I never really understood the need for "assisted suicide", wondering why any help would be needed, so there were some eye openers for me in the book. Overall, I am glad that I read the book, and I don't think that I will forget it if there comes a time when I am faced with possibly making the same hard decision for myself, or supporting a loved one if that need arose for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Allyson Langston | 1/15/2014

    " Chose this book because it was recommended in People magazine as a good read--it is verra, verra depressing. I guess I should have known that going into it--it's about a daughter's journey as she helps her mother through death. The mother is rapidly descending into Parkinsons and decides she is going to end life on her own terms, with her daughters at her side. It's a really long process. There are a few bright moments, but this should not have been a part of my summer reading list--more like a dark, January weekend read. If you want light fluff, stay far, far away from Imperfect Endings! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 TJ | 1/15/2014

    " Very good reflection on the choice to die. And how are dying reflects our living. Highly recommend "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shari | 1/14/2014

    " this memoir is a little tough as Zoe and her siblings are asked to assist their mother in suicide. She is suffering from Parkinsons and would like her daughters to help her and to be present until the end. Tough choices and 2 of the 3 daughters attempt to help their mother acheive her wish. well written, sad and brave. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol | 1/13/2014

    " Wow! If this memoir doesn't make you question the value, the "sanctity" of life, nothing will. Carter writes of an event in her life that few of us will ever experience--the willful death of a parent. Zoe Fitzgerald Carter's mother is bedridden with Parkinson's disease & other maladies when she requests her 3 daughters to be present for her planned death. As Zoe & her sisters discuss the prevention of this act by their "Momma", many family animosities & secrets are revealed. This book will be dynamite for a book group. I promise. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jo | 1/5/2014

    " How do you deal with your mother's terminal illness? How do you help her avoid the worst pain? Do you help her die with dignity? Really good story about the issues and the love of family. I recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg Marie | 1/5/2014

    " The story of the author's mother's quest to take her own life after the ravages of Parkinsons have left her sick and miserable. Weaved in with the story of her mother's choice and final days is Carter's memoir of growing up with her charismatic but difficult father and her loving but emotionally distant mother. Well written and moving. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jane Dickison | 12/4/2013

    " I'm not sure why I read this book. It could be kind of depressing, but when I got into it, there was a kind of pull that some how was comforting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 10/25/2013

    " Good story of a Mother who is dying her way, and how her Daughters handle this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nita | 9/17/2013

    " I need to read this book again to see how she put it together and how she went so deeeply into her feelings. Great example. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephannie | 8/1/2013

    " A beautifully written, moving book about life, dying and about the complexities of family. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 7/28/2013

    " An intimate and thoughtful look into how three sisters dealt with their mother's choice to die on her own terms. The strength of this memoir is its multiple perspectives and compassionate look at end of life issues. This is a book that will certainly provide comfort and options to others. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cindy Wood | 5/28/2013

    " Provocative story about ones right to die, and the family struggling with their mother's choice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzette | 2/19/2013

    " I know how a person (for the most part) lives without Jesus Christ, but how does one die? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 12/22/2012

    " Very well written. Sad but for what it was about, it was well done. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Cindy | 12/21/2012

    " I don't like to be negative about what I write, but this book was pathetic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 3/13/2012

    " I had a grandparent on each side of my family that suffered with Parkinson's, so I really related to this story. This is a great book to open dialogue about quality of life with terminal illness. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 SB | 2/5/2012

    " Perhaps modern medicine and the law intervene too much for reaching the end of life with dignity. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Abigail (Abbe) | 2/2/2012

    " i started skipping through about halfway. i found this author to be unimaginative most of the time, and when she did attempt to liven the book up, it felt forced. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle Buscher | 12/15/2011

    " Very well written. I guess I felt there could have been more plot or more background information about the family. Considering it is a memoir, it really isn't fair for me to ask for 'more plot.' "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Trish | 9/25/2011

    " This subject matter is very interesting to me so I was excited to read this book . The book was underwhelming and dissapointing I think the author did a poor job it started out strong and fizzled away. Was hoping for more than it delivered "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 6/24/2011

    " A most thought provoking read that made me want to schedule some serious Quality time w/ my sweet mama mia. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Allen | 6/19/2011

    " A lovely, touching memoir about her mother's choice to end her own life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephannie | 5/12/2011

    " A beautifully written, moving book about life, dying and about the complexities of family. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nicole | 3/24/2011

    " The time it took me to finish this "okay" book is rather misleading.
    I finished it quickly so I could move on to the next. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia | 1/10/2011

    " Hard to imagine having to deal with your own mother's impish view of suicide even if it is a way to end a terminal illness. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 11/4/2010

    " Very well written. I guess I felt there could have been more plot or more background information about the family. Considering it is a memoir, it really isn't fair for me to ask for 'more plot.' "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 10/28/2010

    " Very well written. Sad but for what it was about, it was well done. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jo | 10/7/2010

    " How do you deal with your mother's terminal illness? How do you help her avoid the worst pain? Do you help her die with dignity? Really good story about the issues and the love of family. I recommend it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 SB | 9/29/2010

    " Perhaps modern medicine and the law intervene too much for reaching the end of life with dignity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 9/15/2010

    " I had a grandparent on each side of my family that suffered with Parkinson's, so I really related to this story. This is a great book to open dialogue about quality of life with terminal illness. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nita | 6/15/2010

    " I need to read this book again to see how she put it together and how she went so deeeply into her feelings. Great example. "

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About the Author

Zoe FitzGerald Carter is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and has written for numerous publications, including New York magazine, the New York Observer, Premiere, and various national magazines. Her first memoir, Imperfect Endings, won first place in the 2008 Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association’s literary contest and was a finalist at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. Carter lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters.