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Publisher's Summary

For years, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Anna Quindlen has been admired for her extraordinary intelligence, insight, and honesty.

A young woman sits in jail, accused of the mercy killing of her dying mother. She didn't do it, but she thinks she knows who did. In the last months of her life, Ellen Gulden's mother revealed startling secrets that challenged everything Ellen believed about her family. Now, in jail, Ellen believes those secrets will tell her who had the courage to end her mother's suffering.

©1994 Anna Quindlen; (P)1995 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall

Danger!

Don't listen to this while your driving unless you have a large pile of tissues nearby! This was my first book by Anna Quindlen; she is a beautifully descriptive writer. A few times I found myself really disliking the main character, and I'm not sure if that was the intended reaction; however, it was a touching and emotional story and I highly recommend this audiobook.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Quindlen's writing skills shine in One True Thing.

Anna Quindlen is a genius with words and using those words to describe family dynamics; she does this masterfully in One True Thing. It's a story about a daughter, Ellen, caring for her dying mother, Kathy Gulden, with a subplot about mercy killing, but it's Quindlen's writing skill that makes it far more than a simplistic page-turner. While caring for her mother, and even long after her mother's death, Ellen sheds her illusions about her family, and learns how to truly know and understand their personalities and not just their preconceived character traits that she has oversimplified. In the process, Ellen becomes a person "with a heart", and Quindlen explores this beautifully. I wish I had read this book ten years ago when my mother was in a similar situation; it has shown me that there were things I could have and should have done.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Charlotte
  • Grants, NM, United States
  • 12-19-10

Two Good Books

Very sad and too realistic.Good twist at the end. If you are trying to decide between this book and Every Last One (also by Anna Quindlen) I would go with Every Last One. In this book I feel like the narrator is a little tedious but very clear and understandable.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Wendi
  • Houston, TX
  • 03-06-15

Quindlen is a True Story Telling Artist

I've never read a Quindlen book that didn't sneak up on me with a resounding shock wave- I know they are coming, yet I read them anyway. It's like watching a movie that you know isn't going to end well more than one time- and hoping to see the same movie, yet wanting the ending to change..just once.. Like why did Jack have to die in Titanic- why couldn't Rose have moved over to let him on the floating piece of wood?

Anyway, One True Thing is a beautiful novel about human compassion, and important subjects that seem taboo to discuss at dinner parties. When our loved ones get cancer and hospice comes to help in their dying days, more often than not a morphine overdose speeds along their death, decreases their horrible pain, and enables them to peacefully fall asleep.. forever.

Our main character in One True Thing puts her life on hold and takes care of her dying mother. During the horrific process, she learns so much about her mother and father, and family- she is overwhelmed by the close feelings she develops and she is devastated when her mother passes from this world to the next. She is more surprised however, when she is arrested and put in jail for killing her mother- with a morphine overdose. She did not commit this crime- but she thinks she knows who did- and yet she finds the 'crime' an act of bravery as she recalls how her mother begged her to help her die, to help her ease her pain.

This novel is beautiful and literature at it's very best. I would keep a box of kleenex nearby to go on this journey, which will most definitely hit far too close to home for many readers.

4 stars across the board, I love Quindlen.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Deeply moving

I wondered if this was based on a true story-- it was so realistic. So much insight into human nature and it reflected many of my own thoughts and feelings after my mother's death. Excellent writing as usual and well performed.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kathryn
  • Bangor, ME, United States
  • 06-23-10

Loosing your mother

I listened to this after loosing my mother in December of 2009, at the age of 92. Although she did not die of cancer, I had to fight with her doctor to let her "die in peace". Her doctor wanted to "send her to the hospital" to do everything for her. Death with dignity has many levels. This is a subject that needs to be addressed.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Touching

Touching but not overly sentimental. I can't imagine how it must feel to be accused of my mother's murder, even a mercy killing. I was very lucky because I loved my mom and I always knew she loved me. Not that we saw eye to eye on everything, but on most of those things we disagreed about, I now wish I had been more like her. That is probably true for many of us, and I think it was true for Ellen who was accused of a mercy killing when her mother was dying of cancer and in such pain of body and spirit. The great thing about this book was watching Ellen grow from someone who "would have walked over her mom in golf shoes" if it would further her career, into someone who loved her mother so much that it was hard to leave her and go to bed because it would have entailed letting go of her hand.

I'm not sure this book is for everyone, but I loved it and am glad I read it. Very very well written and narrated. I wish it would have lasted longer. I wish my mom were here so I could tell her how much I love her one more time.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful Story

This is one of the most well written books I've experienced. Inspired by a true story, of course makes it even more emotional and heartbreaking. But it is also reads like a magnificent novel with twists and surprises until the very end. The narration could not have been more perfect . Very highly recommend!

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Emotional

You will definitely need tissues as you listen to this. Christina Moore is so effective in the narration, highlighting the emotional content without overplaying it. I did feel that the author over-wrote part 2 of the story, hence the (4) star rating. But this is still a compelling look at family dynamics.

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  • Story

EXCELLENT!

Thought provoking story. Very descriptive characterization throughout. Loved the narrator's ability to give full emotional and dramatic range to the different characters.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful