Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
September, 2010

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Literary Mamas share what they are reading right now. Enjoy!

Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Suzanne Kamata, Fiction Co- Editor, writes, "I just finished reading Deborah Clearman's lyrical debut novel Todos Santos. At the beginning of the story, children's book illustrator Catherine Barnes has just found out about her husband's infidelities and her son Isaac has recently flunked out of eighth grade. To get away from her problems and gain perspective, she and her son venture to Guatemala. Catherine becomes involved with the locals, sketching the children, striking up a friendship with an innkeeper, and incurring the wrath of an Evangelical-type priest who tells the villagers that they are about to be set upon by child-stealing devil-worshippers from abroad. Meanwhile, Isaac gets into trouble. Big trouble. Clearman uses her rich palette to present a story of suspense, romance, Mayan mysticism and motherhood."

Caroline Grant, Editor-in-Chief and Columnist, shares, "Marie Fiala writes, 'nothing marks the last normal hours of your life as special,' and in her new memoir, Letters from a Distant Shore, she writes with passion and precision about what happened after her thirteen year-old son suffered a hemorrhage from an artery which ruptured deep in his brain: 'the world roared, and shrank down to a black point like sand sucked through an hour glass.' Soon Jeremy is lying in a coma and his mother is emailing updates to friends: 'I wrote for many reasons,' Fiala comments; 'For the satisfaction of being able to shape one small thing in the way I wanted it. To control what I could control. To transform raw and ugly experience into something calm and contained. To remind myself of the possibility of beauty, even if only in words. To witness, so that if our son died, we would have this to remember. And if he lived, so that we would not forget.' Her emailed updates are so moving, so beautifully written, they are forwarded on to friends who develop an informal 'Jeremy Network' that prays for the child with extraordinary results. Letters from a Distant Shore is a suspenseful, heartbreaking, and inspiring memoir of faith and medicine."

Literary Reflections Co-Editor, Christina Marie Speed, says, "In Songs of Three Islands by Millicent Monks, she writes, 'Letting go of the fear of knowing about oneself -- the part one would rather not deal with -- requires one to understand what effect one's psyche and unconscious life can have on others and the powerful need to protect oneself from knowing.' Ms. Monks is a descendant of the Carnegie family, and in her memoir she chronicles how mental illness plagued her family for generations, with painful, well-articulated -- and occasionally unresolvable -- scenes. She takes readers into her family's history of mental illness, her daughter's residential treatment facilities in the 1950s and 1960s, and countless psychiatrist visits. Yet what allowed me to continue with her through one tense, traumatic experience after another, is her emerging spiritual journey of healing. This gave me an opportunity for hope, and to come up for air with her, as she worked to undo a cycle of silence and blame. And that it is coming to know oneself, and our effect on our world and those in it, which can have the most powerful healing properties."

Katie de Iongh lives in Rye, New Hampshire with her husband and their three young children. She is a community volunteer, freelance writer and college English instructor.

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