Book Review – The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield

Title: The Undertaker’s DaughterBook Review Button
Author: Kate Mayfield
ISBN: 9781476757285
No. of Pages: 368
Genre: Memoir
Origins: Gallery Books
Release Date: 13 January 2015
Bottom Line: Interesting but underwhelming

The Undertaker's Daughter by Kate MayfieldSynopsis:

“After Kate Mayfield was born, she was taken directly to a funeral home. Her father was an undertaker, and for thirteen years the family resided in a place nearly synonymous with death. A place where the living and the dead entered their house like a vapor. The place where Kate would spend the entirety of her childhood. In a memoir that reads like a Harper Lee novel, Mayfield draws the reader into a world of Southern mystique and ghosts.

Kate’s father set up shop in a small town where he was one of two white morticians during the turbulent 1960s. Jubilee, Kentucky, was a segregated, god-fearing community where no one kept secrets—except the ones they were buried with. By opening a funeral home, Kate’s father also opened the door to family feuds, fetishes, and victims of accidents, murder, and suicide. The family saw it all. They also saw the quiet ruin of Kate’s father, who hid alcoholism and infidelity behind a cool, charismatic exterior. As Mayfield grows from trusting child to rebellious teen, she begins to find the enforced hush of the funeral home oppressive, and longs for the day she can escape the confines of her small town.

In The Undertaker’s Daughter, Kate has written a triumph of a memoir. This vivid and stranger-than-fiction true story ultimately teaches us how living in a house of death can prepare one for life.”

Thoughts: The Undertaker’s Daughter is not a typical memoir. Ms. Mayfield does not experience many true tragedies in her life, nor is her childhood filled with hardships. Her father may be an alcoholic and a philanderer, but he loves his family and takes care of them.Her mother is fiercely loyal to her husband and children as well. They do not want for anything. She has more opportunities than most children in the town, and while she does not expressly admit it, she knows she is lucky for those opportunities and the comfort and love which comprise her childhood.

Because of this surprisingly happy childhood, one wonders why Ms. Mayfield chose to write about her childhood. Sure, living one floor above a funeral home gives one a different perspective on life. However, one could make the argument that this directly and positively influences her value system and makes her more accepting of differences, particularly skin color, than anything else in her little Southern town. Much of her teen drama is her own fault, caused by her own choices and fueled by the age-old desire of teens to differentiate themselves from their parents. Yes, her relationship with her older sister is upsetting and bothersome, but that may be the most traumatic part of her childhood. For the most part, The Undertaker’s Daughter shows someone with a safe and happy childhood growing up and expanding her horizons by leaving her small town for the bigger world, one for which she is much better suited.

While there is no doubt that Ms. Mayfield had an interesting childhood, her memoir is something of a letdown for anyone who ever saw an episode of Six Feet Under. There are no real profound observations either about death, dying, or grieving. There is no major tragedy for her to overcome. She wants for nothing throughout her childhood. She rebels as millions of teens have rebelled before and after her and then grows up and leaves to make her own way in the world. While it is interesting, there is just not much depth to The Undertaker’s Daughter to make a lasting impression.

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Audiobook Review – The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

Title: The Snow Queen Author: Hans Christian Andersen Narrator: Julia Whelan ASIN: B00QVZ7KHE Audiobook Length: 1 hour, 14 minutes Genre: Fantasy Origins: Mine. All mine. Release Date: December 1844 Bottom Line: Disappointing. Good thing I didn’t pay anything for it, nor did I have to sacrifice a credit. Synopsis: “This classic tale is a fantastical…

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Audiobook Review – Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Title: Food: A Love Story Author: Jim Gaffigan Narrator: Jim Gaffigan ISBN: 9780804192224 Audiobook Length: 7 hours, 17 minutes Genre: Nonfiction Origins: Mine. All mine. Release Date: 21 October 2014 Bottom Line: Absolutely hilarious – I laughed, I cried…tears of joy. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Synopsis: “Bacon. McDonalds. Cinnabon. Hot…

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Book Review – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl on the Train Author: Paula Hawkins ISBN: 9781594633669 No. of Pages: 336 Genre: Thriller Origins: Riverhead Hardcover Release Date: 13 January 2015 Bottom Line: Impressive thriller but not necessarily mind-blowing Synopsis: “Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy…

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 26 January 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button

Hosted by Sheila from Book Journey, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. To learn more about each book, just click on the book cover! Finished Last Week: I love Jim Gaffigan’s comedy, and I really…

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Sunday Reflections – 25 January 2015

Sunday Reflections Button

I may or may not still be licking my wounds from last Sunday’s game. I may or may not want to start a petition to get Joe Buck and Troy Aikman off the air or at least get them to stop announcing games when Green Bay plays because their bias against the Packers is utterly…

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Audiobook Review – Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Title: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography Author: Neil Patrick Harris Narrator: Neil Patrick Harris ISBN: 9780385367950 Audiobook Length: 7 hours, 15 minutes Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir Origins: Mine. All mine. Release Date: 14 October 2014 Bottom Line: It only confirms my NPH crush. Synopsis: “You’ve already made a great choice by picking up the…

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Book Review – The Deep by Nick Cutter

The Deep by Nick Cutter

Title: The Deep Author: Nick Cutter ISBN: 9781476717739 No. of Pages: 400 Genre: Horror Origins: Gallery Books Release Date: 13 January 2015 Bottom Line: One of the most terrifying books I’ve read in a very long time, if ever, and I loved every minute of it. Synopsis: “A strange plague called the ’Gets is decimating…

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Audiobook Review – As You Wish by Cary Elwes

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes, Joe Layden, Rob Reiner

Title: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride Author: Cary Elwes and Joe Layden Narrator: Cary Elwes, Carol Kane, Norman Lear, Rob Reiner, Chris Sarandon, Andy Scheinman, Wallace Shawn and Robin Wright ISBN: 9781442383463 Audiobook Length: 7 hours, 1 minute Genre: Nonfiction Origins: Mine. All mine. Release Date: 14 October…

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Book Review – The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

Title: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell Author: Nadia Hashimi ISBN: 9780062244758 No. of Pages: 464 Genre: Fiction Origins: William Morrow and Company Release Date: 6 May 2014 Bottom Line: Tough, tough subject matter but well-written and eye-opening Synopsis: “In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only…

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