Review: My Mother’s Funeral by Adriana Páramo

About the book, My Mother’s Funeral

My Mother's Funeral

Every woman has stories to tell about her mother. The mother that she remembers, the mother she wishes she’d had, the mother she doesn’t want to become, and then eventually, the mother she buries. Every immigrant woman has stories to tell about her homeland. My Mother’s Funeral is a combination of both: Mother and Homeland. The book circles around the death of Páramo’s mother but the landscape that emerges is not only one of personal loss and pain, but also of innocence, humor, violence and love.

Drawing heavily upon her childhood experiences and Colombian heritage, the author describes the volatile bond linking mothers and daughters in a culture largely unknown to Americans. The book moves between past (Colombia in the 1940’s) and present lives (USA in 2006), and maps landscapes both geographical (Bogotá, Medellín, Anchorage) as well as psychological, ultimately revealing the indomitable spirit of the women in her family, especially her mother from whom the reader learns what it means to be a woman in Colombia.

My Mother’s Funeral describes four Colombian generations of women who struggle, love, sing and die in a country of mysterious beauty as much as it charts the daunting and transforming process of the mother’s funeral and its unexpected byproduct: the re-acquaintance with a long lost brother, the women in the family, and with them, the whole culture.

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About the Author, Adriana Páramo

Adriana Paramo

Páramo is a cultural anthropologist, writer and women’s rights advocate. Her book Looking for Esperanza, winner of the 2011 Social Justice and Equity Award in Creative Nonfiction (Benu Press) was one of the top ten best books by Latino authors in 2012, the best Women’s Issues Book at the 2013 International Latino Book Awards, and the recipient of a silver medal at the 2012 BOYA, Book of the Year Awards. She is also the author of My Mother’s Funeral, a CNF work set in Colombia released in October 2013 by Cavankerry Press.

Her work has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and her essays have been included in the Notable American Essays of 2011 and 2012.

Her work has been recently published or is forthcoming in The Sun, the CNF Southern Sin Anthology (True Stories of the Sultry South & Women Behaving Badly), Minerva Rising, Redivider, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Los Angeles Review, American Athenaeum, Consequence Magazine, Fourteen Hills, Carolina Quarterly Review, Magnolia Journal, So To Speak, 580 Split, South Loop Review, New Plains Review, and the rest.

Currently she lives in Qatar, where she divides her time between writing and everything else. Everything else includes teaching zumba/Latin dance and Spanish lessons to Qatari students, among whom, there is a prince.

My Thoughts

I have to confess: when the lovely women who run TLC Book Tours approached me about reviewing Adriana Páramo’s memoir, My Mother’s Funeral, I was a little bit resistant. After all, I watched my grandmother go through, if not actual Alzheimers, then the descent into senility and dementia (there is a clinical difference, though from outside, it looks the same), and seeing her lose so much of herself was incredibly difficult. My own mother is only twenty years older than I am, so I won’t likely have to face this with her for a long while, but once encountered, the spectre haunts you, however subtly.

I could not have been more pleased to be proven wrong, because, yes, this book is inherently sad in some respects: within the first few chapters, we face, with Adriana, the cold fact that she is flying home to bury her mother.

But it’s also beautiful.

First, it’s beautifully constructed. Páramo takes us in and out of time periods and places with smooth transitions, and without we readers ever getting lost. Modern Florida, Colombia in the 40s – each feels as real on the page as they are when actually encountered. In the former, you can smell the sun, sand, and Coppertone, in the latter, the sizzle of lard in a frying pan, the swish of a knife through a tomato or an onion – these are ever present. I’ve never actually tasted aguardiente, but after reading this book, I feel as if I have.

Second, and this is what really struck me, the use of language is simply entrancing. Maybe it’s the inherent flair that comes from speaking Spanish as your first language, or maybe it’s the author’s own musicality, but this book sang to me so much that I spent the week I read it (not normal for me, I typically devour books, but this one had to be savored) wandering around the house accosting my husband, our housemate, even the dogs, and reading passages aloud.

Lyrical, lovely, and oh, so poignant, My Mother’s Funeral is a power piece of memoir/creative non-fiction, and not only do I heartily recommend it to all women (after all, even those of us who have never become mothers are still daughters) but to men as well, because it offers a deep understanding of mother-daughter relationships that is impossible to glean without being in one.

Goes well with The whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking about my mother’s green chile soup, and homemade sangria.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a virtual tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. For the tour page, click here.

2 thoughts on “Review: My Mother’s Funeral by Adriana Páramo

  1. Pingback: Adriana Páramo, author of My Mother’s Funeral, on tour January 2014 | TLC Book Tours

  2. This sounds like a gorgeous book! I’m glad that you took a chance on it and that you enjoyed it so much.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

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