#WITMonth : My Mother is a River

“I’m not graceful, nor light-hearted. I’m tethered to the ground, teeth grinding on the links of my chain. My mother, that’s what I’ve labelled every limit. I have charged her with the imperfection of my flight. She’s been my excuse. She’s the cause, and the reason. My mother is a tree. In her shade I have absolved myself. It’s shrivelling, the shade too shrinks away. Soon I’ll be exposed.”

My Mother is a River, by Italian writer Donatella Di Pietrantonio and translated by Franca Scurti Simpson, is the story of a mother and a daughter and the often rocky road of their relationship. But unlike most mother/daughter memoirs, the daughter narrates the mother’s story as well as her own. The mother, Esperina,  is suffering from dementia and the unnamed daughter serves as Esperina’s caregiver and  memory. The story jumps from past to present as the daughter tells and retells the story of Esperina’s life to her, reminding her of her life in rural Italy where she was born to a family poor but rich in traditions. Esperina’s life was a hard one leaving her little time for nurturing her daughter and the sense of abandonment is palpable in the daughters reminiscing of her own childhood.

“Now I can tell her everything about us, without mercy. She’d forget later. It would be but a fleeting wound.”

The memories and feelings expressed in this beautifully told story are complex and often harrowing touching on topics of abuse, sexual harassment, and disfigurement but yet also rich in the telling of domestic life in Italy. The language is luminous, bordering on poetic and I often high-lighted passages simply because the language was so beautiful.

I loved this book. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and I highly recommend it. Published by Calisi Press, you can purchase it here or on Amazon.

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