Dec 12, 2011

Book Review: So Far Away: A Daughter's Memoir of Life, Loss, and Love by Christine W. Hartmann

Title: So Far Away: A Daughter's Memoir of Life, Loss, and Love
Author: Christine W. Hartmann
Vanderbilt University Press (2011), Paperback, 224 pages

Comments: I was totally amazed by this author's situation - having a physically healthy mother who made a conscious decision to end her life at age 70, coupled with a father who became disabled after several strokes and had to be cared for in a nursing home. The father's situation seemed not out of the ordinary - many people are faced with the care of an elderly parent who becomes seriously ill and who may even develop dementia. The mother however, seemed to be out of the ordinary although the author seemed to feel she was healthy psychologically, just with a determination to end her life and to have a say in how and when she would die.

I had to admire the author for coming through this situation and deciding that her mother's action showed her self-absorption, while her father cared more about communicating with her, his child. I would have liked to see what other medical personnel thought about her mother, as it's hard to see her mother's decision as a normal reaction to life and death.

The book was well written and described the family situation very well. It left me, however, with quite a few more questions.

About the author: Christine W. Hartmann is a research health scientist at ENR Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Mass. and assistant professor in the School of Public Health at Boston University. She has published articles on health care quality improvement, focusing on long-term care.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book for the tour by TLC Book Tours.

For other stops on the tour, visit TLC Book Tour reviews.

© Harvee Lau 2011


  1. This does indeed sound like a powerhouse of a book, and it sounds like the mother and father had very different ideas about life and survival. I would love to read this one and see what I think of it, but I am wondering if it would be too sad for me at this point, as a few close family member have recently been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. This was a really great review, by the way, and I enjoyed reading it!

  2. This sounds really compelling. More and more of us are facing issues with our parents. My father turned 75 yesterday and has had to tell his 94 year-old mother that he can't physically take care of her. Tough decisions. Here's Mine

  3. Why would any sane person want to do that to their child? I read about this book on another blog and couldn't believe that she put her daughter through this....what a story!

  4. I can't imagine being in this author's position. What a horribly difficult situation to deal with!

    Thanks for being a part of this tour.


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