Hello dear Readers,
First of all, I want to thank Netgalley for sending me an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Release date is set for May 5, 2015. I will be posting my review on the Netgalley website and my blog that day.
I would also like to thank Liz Kelsh from Sourcebooks for inviting me to participate on this Blog Tour. It has been an amazing experience. I appreciate it.
And thanks to the Author, Melissa Cistaro for sharing her story with us, the readers. Thank you also for taking the time to answer all my questions.
Today, I'll be sharing a brief description of the book and also the Q&A belonging to this Blog Tour.
Pieces of my Mother. A Memoir. A beautifully written an unique story.
Title: Pieces of my Mother: A Memoir
Author: Melissa Cistaro
Publisher: Sourcebooks (May 5, 2015)
This provocative, poignant memoir of a daughter whose mother left her behind by choice begs the question: Are we destined to make the same mistakes as our parents?
One summer, Melissa Cistaro's mother drove off without explanation. Devastated, Melissa and her brothers were left to pick up the pieces, always tormented by the thought: Why did their mother abandon them?
Thirty-five years later, with children of her own, Melissa finds herself in Olympia, Washington, as her mother is dying. After decades of hiding her painful memories, she has just days to find out what happened that summer and confront the fear she could do the same to her kids. But Melissa never expects to stumble across a cache of letters her mother wrote to her but never sent, which could hold the answers she seeks.
Q&A with the Author, Melissa Cistaro
Lovely work you are doing for books on The Costa Rican Writer!
Thank you for these terrific questions - and let me know if these answers are sufficient.
All my best,
Costa Rican Writer: Putting into words the pain of being left by a mother can be difficult for most people. What are the reasons why you decided to write your story and have it published?
Melissa Cistaro: I worked on this book over the course of 12 years and played with many different themes and structures. In fact, for the first few years I tried writing it as fiction. The challenge was that every time I attempted any fictional details, I’d end up circling back to the truth as I knew it. It was important to me to find the compassion and truth in telling this story - no matter how painful it was. Eventually it was evident that I needed to claim the story as my own. (For years, the I called myself Paisley Chapin in the story instead of Melissa Cistaro).
CRW: From the moment your mother was gone, has it been easier or more difficult to raise your own children? Have the fears about the way you parent them gone away?
MC: After my mom died I wrote compulsively, trying to make sense of her leaving her young children - and then leaving again - this time forever. In some ways, I become less present with my children because I was so focused on writing and trying to understand the past. I will always question my abilities as a mother because it’s important to me to be the best mom I can be for my children. I don’t have fears of repeating history anymore - or wonder if I have a “leaving gene” but I do carry the weight of the mothers in my family history who came before me and were not able to raise their children. I believe that understanding our history - and telling our truths - helps us to navigate our lives with courage and honesty.
CRW: Have you found that “something” you were searching for while your mother was still alive now that she is gone? Have you gotten some sort of closure?
MC: What I was looking for in my mother’s final days were her words - and I thought they might come in the form of “I’m sorry for what happened” or “I should have never left you.” My mother couldn't say those words before she died. And so I found something different than the closure I was hoping for. I found her extraordinary letters that she wrote and never sent. It is the letters my mother left behind that provide me with comfort now. I can open one of her letters and there she is - her true and authentic voice. I will always long for her presence, but at least I have this physical evidence of my mom’s voice - of a life lived, written and expressed in beautiful black ink.
CRW: What is your relationship with your brothers like nowadays?
MC: We are very close and supportive of each other. I think our bond was sealed when our mom first left us. We share this history of longing for her. My brother’s have struggled in many ways throughout their lives but they are two of the most loving and generous people I know. I am one lucky sister.
CRW: At some point during, the writing process, did you think about quitting and not finishing the story? Were the memories at some point to painful that made you have doubts about writing this memoir?
MC: I had many opportunities to give up on this book - and yet it wouldn't let me go. Over the years, I’d occasionally send a query out to agents. And whenever I got a rejection, I went back to revising and adding more to the story. Initially, I wanted to finish the book before my mom died and I was racing against her illness. After she passed away, I was determined to finish it in thirty days! But it need much more time than that, and it wasn't until a few years later that I found the structure that best suited the book. It has definitely been an emotional journey - but I am glad and grateful that I didn't give up on telling this story.