Jan 20, 2014

Book Review: My Mother's Funeral by Adriana Paramo

Title: My Mother's Funeral by Adriana Paramo
Published October 1, 2013; Cavankerry Press
Genre: memoir; creative nonfiction
Objective rating: 4.5/5

About the book:  Adriana Paramo, who had left her home in Medellin, Colombia to become an anthropologist, gets a phone call about her mother Carmen's sudden death and returns home from Alaska to attend the funeral. She and her four sisters and a brother, all older siblings who had remained in Colombia, meet up again to pay final respects to their mother, reminisce about her life, and claim sentimental items from their family home.

The book flashes back to Adriana's memories of growing up without their father, who had left them when Adriana, the youngest, was only five or six years old. The book explores Carmen's life, her marriage, her love for her husband before and even after he deserted her, and her raising six children by herself. All of this from Adriana's viewpoint as an impressionable child, then a rebellious adolescent and as an independent adult.

My comments: 
A moving family story, expertly written, with the life and personality of Adriana's mother fully developed as creative nonfiction. Carmen came through as a determined personality who wanted more for her children and demanded more from them as well. She was successful in moving them on to a better life, where they could help both her and each other.The book was also very informative of Colombia's customs, dynamic society, and its volatile politics during that time period.

As the last of six children, myself,  I was amazed at how much I could relate to this narrative of the relationship between the mother and daughter. Adriana came to know Carmen more deeply as she had spent more time with her as the youngest child. As Adriana's brother said, Carmen was a different person and mother in the 1960s-70s than she was in the 80s when she had Adriana. I highly recommend this book on several levels.

Paramo has written another work of creative nonfiction, Looking for Esperanza, which has won several awards. I would really like to read that book also.

Adriana 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 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. “My Mother’s Funeral,” a creative nonfiction book set in Colombia, was 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. She currently lives and writes in Qatar. Connect with Paramo at http://www.paramoadriana.com/

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the author for a review copy of this book. Click on the link for more reviews by book tour participants. 


  1. Adriana Páramo sounds like an excellent writer. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but think her books may be excellent choices. Thanks for your review.

  2. I love memoirs and this one sounds interesting but I think I'd have to be in the right mood to read it.

  3. Wonderful review, Harvee. I read a fair number of memoirs and this one sounds really worthwhile.

  4. sounds like a very good memoir. loved your review.

  5. Good point, and interesting that this book explores the issue of parents being very different in the experiences of children born far apart.cI too am separated by a lot of years from my siblings so I too can relate.

  6. Sounds like a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

  7. I, too, read this book for the tour and I agree with a lot of your comments - especially about Carmen as a personality. However, I was turned off by the sections of the book focusing on her mother's funeral. They came too early in the book for me - before I had a chance to develop emotion toward Carmen, which would have gien the funeral scenes meaning. I kind of felt like it was 2 separate books - one about her childhood and one about the funeral. And, I only liked the one about her childhood.

    1. Sarah: I understand your concern about the back and forth in time. My own mother's funeral is still fresh i my mind,so I didn't mind reading about the funeral up front and wondering what her mother's life was like.I guess having gone through a parent's death and reminiscing about her life made me more open to the book.

  8. Oh - here's my review: http://www.sarahsbookshelves.com/memoirs/book-review-my-mothers-funeral-by-adriana-paramo/

  9. Sounds like an amazing emotional read. Thanks for review, Harvee. Definitely going on my TBR!

  10. This sounds like a very moving read. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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