Ever since she could remember, little Cathy Barron loved living with her grandparents on Cape Breton Island, and every summer she looked forward to the day her mother would step off the train from Ontario in her fancy outfit and her red lipstick to visit with her for two weeks.
But, in the summer of 1955, her mother demanded that Cathy come to Ontario to live with her for good. Cathy reluctantly said good bye to the only life she ever knew.
She was promised a new and exciting life full of love and happiness, but what Cathy got was the exact opposite.
The only way to survive in her new empty world was to draw strength from her only friend, the little girl in the mirror...
Based on a true story, Tara Mondou artistically recreates the heartbreaking account of her mother's early childhood.
Tara Mondou’s life-long interest in reading books and telling stories has developed into a passion for writing and editing. As a first time author, she wrote, Little Girl in the Mirror, the heart-wrenching true story of her mother’s childhood growing up in both Glace Bay, Nova Scotia and Stratford, Ontario in the 1950s.
Tara worked for Best Version Media as the Editor for Neighbours of West Galt and Shade’s Mills magazines, two local publications in Cambridge, Ontario. Since 2009, she has been the chair person for the Waterloo Regional Block Parent® Program, developing programs that encourage children to be more physically active, healthy and safe.
In 2017, Tara co-founded a writers support group called Cambridge Authors, and continues to create opportunities and special events to help support and promote local writers and the literary arts.
Tara was the 2018 recipient of the Bernice Adams Memorial Award for Communication/Literary Arts, and volunteered as the Public Relations Director for Guitars for Kids Waterloo Region.
Tara lives in the West Galt area of Cambridge with her husband and their two daughters.
More information about Tara Mondou and her book Little Girl in the Mirror can be found at taramondou.com
Little Cathy’s mother, picks her up from Eastern Canada, and brings her back home to Southern Ontario, despite Cathy wanting to stay with her Grandmother. Mother and Daughter must lean all about each other’s ways and learn how to live together after being apart for six years. Money is scarce, so they move in with a woman whom Cathy does not like, but for good reason.
Forced from her home in the mid 1950’s, now living in a less than ideal situation, Cathy is alone, and isolated from her family out east. She is desperate to return, but she puts her mother’s needs before her own. Little Cathy makes sacrifices for her mother that most adults do not make. Little Cathy’s only comfort is her friend, the little girl in the mirror, and it is she that Cathy turns to for support.
I do not know where to begin with this story, and I hope my review does this book justice. I loved this from the bottom of my heart. This book is emotionally charged. It’s a story about: mothers, daughters, women, second chances, strength, and courage. But it is also so much more.
This book is close to my heart for many reasons. It is the same genre that I am writing my book, as it is based on a true story. It involves women strengths and courage, and parts of the book are based in Cities in Southern Ontario that I know well. The author describes the settings beautifully, and as a true representation of how they look.
Little Cathy won my heart at the first page, and when her story ended, I wanted more. The story is well paced, and I read it in two days. I wanted to finish in one sitting, but life made me do other important things. The author includes enough detail to allow the reader a true experience of the life of the characters, but not too much that it slows the pacing.
Cathy’s mother, Rita is interesting in so many ways. Throughout the story we see her trying to be the best single mother she can be, and we see her internal struggles at having to learn to take care of another person when she has needs of her own. I was frustrated by her many time; because of the decisions she makes, but also understood that I cannot judge her. She is after all a single mother in the 50’s trying to keep not only herself afloat but now also, a daughter.
All the dramas, emotions, and fears that little Cathy faces are well expressed and conveyed, and I cried throughout the book a few times, and long after I turned the last page.
What made this so heartfelt is knowing that this is a true story, and a well expressed one that deserves to be read by many more readers.
Tara Mondou's "Little Girl in the Mirror" is an engrossing page-turner that had me wanting to reach into the pages of the book to give young Cathy the warm hugs she desperately needed, to scold her mother Rita for neglecting her only child and to give their nasty landlady Mrs. Wrenn a taste of her own medicine. The fact these emotions were stirred in me is a credit to the author's writing.
Based on a true story about Mondou's mother's upbringing, the book is both heart-wrenching and inspiring. Cathy is torn between enjoying her summers on Cape Breton Island where she is surrounded by her family including her ever-loving grandmother and, juxtaposed to that, enduring her lonely existence living with her mom in southern Ontario for the rest of the year. Rita, a single mother during the 1950s, struggles to provide for herself and her daughter which forces them to live in a boarding home run by the tyrannical Mrs. Wrenn. Despite all the neglect and sadness Cathy faces, her friend in the mirror is always there to offer support.
Although "Little Girl in the Mirror" is a heartbreaking story, Cathy's inner strength in dealing with all the despair that life throws at her is awe-inspiring!
Tara Mondou writes a poignant and touching autobiography of her mother, Cathy Barron. She concentrates on her early and impressionable years and uses the voice of little Cathy. The dialogue clearly articulates a strong Cape Breton accent which adds to the flavour of the characters, a large and extended family. Many of the family have relocated to Ontario, but visits ‘back home’ clearly demonstrate the love for the island and culture in which they were raised. Cathy is the child of a working class single mother struggling to make ends meet. They live in a boarding house with Mrs. Wrenn, who is nasty and cruel to Cathy. The story is bittersweet and heart wrenching as Cathy tries desperately to make sense of her environment. Mondou cleverly crafts Cathy’s coping mechanism through the analogy of the ‘mirror’, which is a way the little girl distances herself from conflicting and hurtful emotions she is unable to understand. Although this story tore at my heartstrings, it was insightful and engaging. I enjoyed the book and found it a very worthwhile read.
First off, congratulations Tara on publishing your first book! Secondly, I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would have. I’m not really into stories that have to do with history, but early on, I grew interested and attached to Cathy. I’m not sure what Mrs. Wrenn’s problem with wearing “underpants” to bed was, but at times I feared that the story would lead into a different, more dangerous direction for little Cathy. Also, Rita was a character/ woman/ mother who pissed me off, constantly. At times, I wished I were there along side Cathy to let Rita have a piece of my mind. At the end of chapter 29, when Cathy FINALLY told Rita off, I was jumping out of my seat with satisfaction. That, was my favourite part of the whole book! There were times, as a reader, where I got overwhelmed with the amount of people introduced into the story, where I couldn’t recall who was who anymore. But overall, I enjoyed the book!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Heartwarming, sad and beautifully written this is the true story of a little girl who was mentally abused by her landlady. It tells the story of the authors mother and how her inherent strength got her through the many years of neglect, loneliness and oftentimes, despair. A great read because of the rich description of the people and touches on history.
A perfectly well-written, easy to read book...but I can enjoy it only so much. It's depressing...not quite to the level of a David Adams Richards novel, but this is an unhappy tale and it doesn't really feature any triumphant comeuppance. Relentlessly sad isn't really my bailiwick.
This book was mentioned in local media today and I bought it because I was born in and grew up in Stratford in the 50"s and have retired back here. Cathy and I were born just 5 days apart. Our paths never crossed. I wish they had. I wish that then and now the world was the kind of place where people didn't "keep up appearances". Child or adult, if it wasn't okay in your world it was the norm to get help and be open about it. The 50's were very much about don't rock the boat, don't wash your dirty laundry in public, If you don't acknowledge it - it doesn't exist. Children were not heard they just listened and tried to make sense of adults. Parents and children didn't communicate with each other and weren't expected to. If you broke these rules of society there was something wrong with you and a lot of effort went into trying to get you back in that "box". Cathy was very brave in sharing her story with her daughter, even if it took awile for the daughter to hear her. She knew that the life lessons she learned from her Grandmother and Mother as well as her own needed to be passed down. The strength is in the knowing when to take the best path in the challenge of the moment.
This is a story about how mother-daughter relationships can go awry and the emotional cost to a child. I found Cathy's story compelling yet disturbing and kept hoping for a happy ending. That is not always how life goes, yet I admired Cathy's resilience.