** Disclaimer :: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **
Author: Judith Ortiz Cofer
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication Date: March 1, 2015
Number of Pages: 240
How I Got It: Lindsey Harding
Inside Flap:“I am learning the alchemy of grief—how it must be carefully measured and doled out, inflicted—but I have not yet mastered this art,” writes Judith Ortiz Cofer in The Cruel Country. This richly textured, deeply moving, lyrical memoir centers on Cofer’s return to her native Puerto Rico after her mother has been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer.
Cofer’s work has always drawn strength from her life’s contradictions and dualities, such as the necessities and demands of both English and Spanish, her travels between and within various mainland and island subcultures, and the challenges of being a Latina living in the U.S. South. Interlaced with these far-from-common tensions are dualities we all share: our lives as both sacred and profane, our negotiation of both child and adult roles, our desires to be the person who belongs and also the person who is different.
What we discover in The Cruel Country is how much Cofer has heretofore held back in her vivid and compelling writing. This journey to her mother’s deathbed has released her to tell the truth within the truth. She arrives at her mother’s bedside as a daughter overcome by grief, but she navigates this cruel country as a writer—an acute observer of detail, a relentless and insistent questioner.
My Review: As a UGA graduate, it didn't take me longer than a second to agree to review this release. This memoir is written in the style of a personal journal with each entry numbered but not dated. Cofer's memoir is as touching and crushing as any child documenting their parent's death but is more haunting and lyrical than any I have read before. With a majority of this type of memoir written by white women in the United States, Cofer's Latin heritage and her return to Puerto Rico provides diverse insight to a generally inevitable life experience. These women's differences and similarities may be specific to themselves but are relatable to mothers and daughter everywhere. The cultural divide that the women experienced in their lives is especially interesting making this a vital addition to the memoir genre.
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