Follow Your Heart, by Susanna Tamaro

Cover ImageFinished 8-14-08, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 1994

“As you grow up, you’ll often get the urge to change things, to right wrongs, but every time you do, remember that the first revolution, the first and the most important, has to take place within yourself.  Fighting for an idea without having an idea of yourself is one of the most dangerous things you can do.”   -December 22

This is the brutally honest letter a grandmother who is nearing death writes to the granddaughter she raised alone.  Her granddaughter is obviously a headstrong young woman who has moved to America leaving her grandmother in Italy heartbroken and alone. 

The grandmother can feel death coming and wants to leave her granddaughter a letter of history and hope for the future.  She pulls no punches.  She is not afraid to illuminate her own shortcomings as well as those around her, granddaughter included.  It is difficult to read that she did not think about her daughter for several years after her death  or that she did not love her daughter enough without your heart breaking a little.  This is a woman who was not going to spare her granddaughter the truth.

I was pulled in right from the beginning.  It was real and honest and a great story of three generations of women who all seemed to be fighting the past.  It is definitely a worthwhile read.  It was translated from the original Italian.