Phantom Limb: A Meditation on Memory

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Phantom Limb is a wise and courageous memoir that moves between past and present, chronicling an adult daughter’s journey through the final years of her parents’ lives. A story of discovering love through adversity as well as an inquiry into contemporary neurology and spiritual life, Phantom Limb is a moving meditation on the struggle to make peace with physical and emotional ghosts of the past. Janet Sternburg write with such warmth and honesty that loss itself becomes luminous: “This is the grace of the last years, the children coming to understand the contradictions in their parents, not to reconcile them but encompass them in a larger love.”

“Janet Sternburg has found the perfect metaphor for the tragedy of pain and loss, the ultimate inevitabilities of life.” —Bill Moyers

“A phantom limb is flesh become memory… Sternburg uses the phenomenon as a metaphor for the loss of our loved ones, who remain intimately with us even after they’re gone.”  —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“[Sternburg is] every one of us who has cared for aging parents… She has faced the crucial questions: What do we owe to our parents? What do we owe to ourselves?” —The Orange County Register

“A mosaic of understanding, reconciliation, and ultimately acceptance.” —The Bloomsbury Review

“Sternburg is so skillful, so acute in her descriptions and so filled with a useful sense of the absurd that the painful becomes transformative.” —Jewish Exponent

“Sternburg’s prose is powered by imagistic accuracy and psychological immediacy—two horses that lesser writers let run wild. She holds their reins in a firm hand, and gently guides this book with intelligence and humility… This is a book for anyone not afraid to look.”  —Liana Holmberg, Manoa

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