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Finding Rosa: A Mother with Alzheimer’s, a Daughter in Search of the Past
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Finding Rosa: A Mother with Alzheimer’s, a Daughter in Search of the Past

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  40 ratings  ·  6 reviews
**Winner of the Alberta LIterary Awards Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction**

When her mother, Rosa, begins to show signs of dementia, Caterina Edwards embarks on a myriad of journeys — geographical, intellectual, emotional — that turn out to be part of one journey, a search for the meaning of the past and of home. During the four years she cares for Rosa, Edwards must
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Greystone Books (first published September 2nd 2008)
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Caterina Edwards My first response is to say you owe your story your truth, but (of course) it is more complicated than that. The key word is "fair." A portrait…moreMy first response is to say you owe your story your truth, but (of course) it is more complicated than that. The key word is "fair." A portrait without warts or shadows is boring, as well as false. We are all fallible. I lead a memoir workshop, and I find older women sometimes insist their childhood, their parents, were perfect, when everything was far from it. And if the older ones want to present a sentimental picture, the young ones sometimes want to only show the darkness and evil.
Painting someone as a villain (and yourself as a victim) doesn't work. If your experience is mostly negative, why not include the P.O.V of someone else - perhaps even that person - so the story is balanced and fair. Try to understand and explain. The editor of "Finding Rosa" convinced me to remove a long scene that reflected badly on a relative by marriage. The editor asked me what the purpose of my story was. And I had to admit it wasn't to expose the woman. So focusing on the essence of your memoir helps.
And the editing I have done of life writing has convinced me writing for revenge alienates the reader. (We shrink from bitterness and rancor.)
It is a continuum: as writers of memoir, we have to find our place on that line. How much do you tell? It depends on what is important to you. But readers do sense falseness and lies, as well as unfairness. It shows in your prose style. I'm reading a memoir by Anne Roiphe. She explains how in a previous memoir, written years earlier, she hinted that her brother, who died of AIDS, was homosexual. She still feels guilty about that revelation. Her nephew stopped speaking to her and told everyone she was a liar. (Even though his mother eventually confirmed it.) Still, she feels she made the right choice. She says family secrets are toxic. Unfortunately, exposing the secrets can lead to a spread of that toxicity. She evokes Aeneas leaving Try, carrying his father on his back. We all carry our parents on our backs.
I could go on and on.
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3.70  · 
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Cristina
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finding Rosa is part memoir, part history lesson, part detective work, about the author's years of caring for her mother with deteriorating Alzheimer's, while trying to piece together the history of her mother's life. Complicating things, Rosa's homeland no longer exists. Istria is now mostly Croatian, but also belonged to Austria, Italy and Yugoslavia all in rapid succession.
The Istriani are described as the 'forgotten Italians', and the author learns of atrocities and ethnic cleansing, hundred
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Debby
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book that more than delivers on its promise. Caterina Edwards' story is about her mother, but also about Edwards' odyssey to learn about her mother's past. By the time Edwards is ready to discover who her mother really is, Rosa is suffering from Alzheimer's. Further complicating Edwards' quest, Rosa's homeland, Istria, has basically been wiped off the map, making historical research particularly challenging. Edwards is left trying to piece together the history of a woman whose personal ...more
Colleen
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book on so many levels: a human interest story about the conflicted relationship between a daughter and her mother; a historical and genealogical exploration that rediscovers, explains, imagines and enlivens a lost world; a window into the life of one writer; instruction in the craft of writing creative non-fiction that draws on a multitude of disciplines--archival research, oral history, memoir, biography, travel writing, and more.

Caterina Edwards is teaching a writing family hist
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Mary Anne
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
True story. Understanding that her mother has Alzheimer’s, Caterina Edwards tries to find out her past. And uncovers many things that were never known: exactly how old was her mother? Are the stories she tells true or just stories? She learns of the family’s past in Istria (now part of Croatia, but owned by many, in rapid succession). And many times, she's unable to answer her questions, but does have a better understanding of her mother and her mother's past in a war-torn country.
Diane Bracuk
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing


What is it about a hypercritical, withholding parent that makes us forever seek their approval? In this moving, multi-layered memoir—part history, part genealogical exploration—Caterina Edwards painstakingly explores her conflicted relationship with her mother Rosa, a woman ruled by a “foolish, frightening anger.”

The roots of Rosa’s discontent lie partially in her displacement. Like thousands of Italians in WW11, she was displaced from her home—in this case Istria, a virtually unknown land that
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Krista
Jun 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Not my favorite.
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