Remind Me Who I Am, Again

Linda Grant, Author
Linda Grant, Author Granta Books $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-86207-171-1
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 307 pages - 978-1-86207-244-2
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Grant first charted her mother's decline into senile dementia in an article for the Guardian (U.K.). In response to a flood of readers' letters and her own need to examine her extended family history, she expanded that article into this moving account of second-generation Anglo-Jewry, published last year in England. Dual themes of memory and identity underlie the sad account of her mother's illness, which also becomes a metaphor for the lost history of an immigrant family. The family's roots in Eastern Europe were effectively destroyed, not only by the Holocaust but also by the family's desire to remember selectively, and not always truthfully, the story of its past. As a child, Grant thought family stories a bore; now she regrets her lack of interest and lost opportunities to know more about her parents. She chronicles her mother's decline with unflinching honesty, revealing her guilt and impatience with her mother's condition and her failings as a daughter. With nostalgic humor, she looks back on the experiences of her large, extended family of observant Jews who settled in a country where anti-Semitism, while not as virulent as in the Poland they had left, was not unknown. As her mother's condition deteriorates, Grant and her sister come to the painful decision to place her in a nursing home. While there is no upbeat ending to Grant's story, she affirms that people can react with dignity and sensitivity to the inevitable tragedies of old age. (June)
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