A Mother, A Daughter, A Reporter's Notebook
BY KATHERINE ROSMAN
In lively, intimate prose, Wall Street Journal culture reporter Katherine Rosman reconnects with her late mother by reporting on the life she led outside of her roles as mom and wife.
Faced with the loss of her mother, Suzy, to cancer at sixty, Wall Street Journal reporter Katherine Rosman longs to find answers to the questions that we all wrestle with after losing someone we love. So she does what she does best: she opens her notebook and starts investigating.
Thumbing through her late mother's address book, Rosman begins to discover a woman whose life was intricately connected to a host of characters her daughter hardly knew. Her reporting skills at the ready, she embarks on a cross-country odyssey, tracking down total strangers from whom she hopes to learn about a woman she once thought she couldn't know better. Venturing into the heart of some colorful communities, Rosman interviews friends and acquaintances of her mother's, as well as people whose relationships with her were more complex though no less potent—among them a former golf caddie, a legendary Pilates instructor, an eBay glass collector, and an immigrant doctor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. As Rosman attempts to fill in the blank spaces that may explain her mother's motivations and philosophies in building a life and in facing death, she comes to understand this woman as she never imagined she could.
Blending humor, honesty, and old-fashioned reporting, Rosman grapples with the bittersweet reality that sometimes we can't truly know someone until after she is gone. At once comforting, candid, and very funny, If You Knew Suzy is a heartfelt memoir against which readers can consider themselves and the lives of all those they love.ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Katherine Rosman is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal where she writes about pop culture. She has written about birthday-party Dora performers getting sued for intellectual property infringement, about elite book clubs with steep membership requirements, and kids who are jealous of the attention their parents devote to their BlackBerrys. Before joining the staff of the Journal in 2004, she contributed to the New Yorker, New York, Elle, The New York Observer, The Nation and, The New York Times. She is also the author of If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, a Daughter, a Reporter's Notebook . Rosman, a graduate of the University of Michigan, lives in New York with her husband and two children. Visit her web site, http://www.katierosman.com.
IF YOU KNEW SUZY by Katherine Rosman is a moving memoir of her mother’s life that centers around her illness and death. Suzy was an athlete, a hard core Pilates follower, golfer, wife, mother, and daughter. She died after a grueling three year battle with lung cancer at the young age of 60. Although she had quit smoking years before and the cause of her cancer is never written, it is implied that it may have come from the chemically treated golf courses Suzy Rosin had played on for so many years. This is a very personal, maybe too personal, story. It give us a portrait of a woman fighting for her life. The reason I say it may be too personal is that due to the “research” Katherine did for this tribute to her mother, while also trying to find out why her mother confided certain fears to strangers, it is sometimes more like an investigative piece. But, it was in the long run, still a memoir and honor to, and for her, mother.
Rosman was very close with her mother as they would talk every day, and that makes the information that Katherine finds out about her mother in writing this even more surprising. Rosman is, after all, a journalist and she has a plan to focus on the parts of her mom's life that she didn't know much about, and to see if she can find out why her mother was so unwilling to face the reality of the cancer that killed her.
By taking her mother's handwritten address book, Rosman set out to call everyone who is even slightly associated with her mother. She interviewed people whose names she found listed there, as well as others who she came to know about through those people. With the interviews, Rosman finds out about several things she hadn’t known about her mother and actually explains to the reader about these subjects.
Readers will learn about Pilates and those people who Suzy knew through her dedication to this. We find how a preacher used his own grief to be able to help others showing a living example of kindness to strangers. Katherine also found out about the Augusta National and golf, while learning about the story of how her mother got her stepfather the chance to play at the celebrated golf course. She learned of a woman who was Suzy's caddie and later went on to a successful business career. These people Katherine learns about in this way make up some of the most fascinating parts of the memoir and show the ways that Suzy Rosin affected so many people.
IF YOU KNEW SUZY brings the reader to ask themselves whether they would want to be described in such a personal way, by anyone, to whoever might read the narrative. Did this book honor her mother's request for privacy? Although the book was a tribute to Katherine’s mother and let all the world know about her, I still question if I would want that done for me. In the end, however, it is a well written, tribute to a mother by a daughter who loved her very much.
AT HARPER COLLINS PUBLISHING,
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