Motherland's canvas

  • September 28, 2010
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"Black Painting" by Stephanie Serpick (

A local book club selected Motherland as this month’s featured work and invited me to participate in the group’s discussion today. Each reader found her own way of relating to the story.

One woman talked about how her mother was raised by adoptive parents who were alcoholics. (Her biological parents died when the girl was five.) “My mother didn’t really know how to be a mother and I was reminded of that challenge when I read your book.”

Another said that her son and daughter-in-law are considering a surrogate egg donor for fertility treatments, but the couple is concerned about the child’s confused identity. “Your book made me think about how each of us determines our own identity.”

A third book club member asked me whether I thought an experience she had constituted trauma. (Of course, that depends upon the individual and his or her support system.)

Another reader brought up a book she had just finished called Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire. It tells the story of a Cuban boy who was sent by his parents to America during the Cuban Revolution. “Your mother’s experiences reminded me of his story.”

I came away with the feeling I have when I go with a group of friends to an art museum and view an all-black painting. Each of us sees something different and what we see reflects who we are. Each viewer or reader brings his or her own experiences to the art.

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