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also available in the lovely print edition)
or order it from your local bookseller.
Adriana Páramo's memoir tracing the history of her mother's life and their relationship is not for the faint of heart. If you are a person who frequently quips "TMI!" and means it, this is not your cup of tea. However, if you favor gritty realism and no-subject-too-private confessional memoirs written as poetic and lyrical creative non-fiction, then you won't soon forget My Mother's Funeral.
Set in Colombia with occasional scenes in the U.S., the memoir chronicles Páramo's relationship with her feisty, doggedly diligent, and often irascible mother Carmen, regularly dipping back into Carmen's personal history, from her 1940's childhood in the tiny village of Mariquita to her whirlwind romance and marriage to "Mr. B" through her adult life as a tough-as-nails single mom to five girls and a boy in urban Medellín and Bogotá. Páramo's father, a remorseless philanderer who deserts their family after one too many girls is born, commands Carmen's enduring love despite the hardships she and her children must endure. Along the way, we see how Colombia's geography, culture, socioeconomic structures, and politics influence Carmen's life and shape her children's psyches.
So, if you are feeling brave and seeking a fiercely frank memoir, My Mother's Funeral would make a strong choice for you.
This was a book that took me to a family and experience very unlike my own, either as a daughter or as a mother, since both of these were two-parent situations. It gave me a clear view of how a one-parent family might survive, in this case with a single mother who is also poor. For me, the funeral issue was author Páramo's way to relate the rest of the story of Adriana and her mother, Carmen. In a way, the funeral itself, though deftly integrated, could have been unnecessary to what was the real essence of the book, which I see as the relationship of this youngest daughter with her mother.
Páramo does a good job of helping us get into the mind of a family living in Colombia in our time. She also is able to convey the real, underlying love of her mother, despite the many ways she contradicts and defies her. Another issue well put here is distance, both physically (in Alaska) and emotionally, and how this plays on emotions when events at home (Colombia) occur. Regret is evident. Resolution does happen.
FYI: Both Mom & Me were reminded of Isabel Allende's work in terms of intensely emotional and conflicted female familial relationships and some aspects of culture, economics, and politics that Chile shares with Colombia.
Looking for a third opinion? Try hopping by the other blog stops on the TLC Virtual Book Tour.
MFB, with gratitude to Ms. Páramo and her publishers as well as to the fine folks at TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to sample this one-of-a-kind memoir,