Synopses & Reviews
City of One is a poignant and beautifully written memoir of childhood loss and its enduring meaning. Francine Cournos was three years old when her father died, and by the time she was eleven, her mother was dead of breast cancer. I had been hurled over a cliff, she writes. The irreversibility of what had happened crashed down on me; a nauseating wave of fear and a flood of tears followed. I didn't know who I was without my mother. What would fill the vast space left by the disappearance of this all-consuming relationship? How would I spend my time? What would I become? In answering these questions, Dr. Cournos offers a sharply perceptive portrait of an injured child's inner life, and the moving-even exhilarating-story of the ways in which, after much struggle and with considerable help from others, that injured child living in a foster home grew to become a happy and successful adult. At once illuminating and heart stopping, City of One is an inspiring account of triumph over childhood adversity.Eloquent and moving.-New York Times Book ReviewInspiring, insightful, and thoroughly engaging, offering hope and awareness to all who have experienced pivotal losses.-Kirkus ReviewsCity of One is extraordinarily moving. It is handled with a remarkable honesty and sensitivity. This is redemptive work because it leaves us with a sense of admiration for the courage of the human spirit.-Jonathan Kozol, Author of Amazing GraceFrom tragic to inspirational, City of One is an impressive lesson in one woman's ability to endure.
In the literature of childhood loss and adult redemption, "City of One" stands as a remarkable and powerful addition. The memoir is about the death of the author's parents by the time she was 11 and how she grew up to journey toward academic achievement and personal success.
By the time she was eleven years old, Francine Cournos was robbed of her parents by a pair of tragic deaths. Placed in foster care by relatives too disinterested to bother with her, she drew strength from the indelible example of her mother's courage in the face of breast cancer. Yet the orphaned child within her would play an equally profound role in shaping the exceptional woman she was to become.
In this unforgettable memoir, Francine Cournos tells the story of her transformation from the little girl whom nobody wanted into a successful, happy adult. In vivid, poignant detail, she describes the childhood that nearly destroyed her, and the strength of will that led to her decision to become a doctor against all odds.
Set against the backdrop of 1950s New York City, she weaves the devastating events of her youth with her mature experiences as a psychiatrist, wife, and mother. She shares her lifelong search for identity, love, and the medical answers that would demystify the illness that claimed her mother's life and force her to confront her early feelings of betrayal and abandonment. How Cournos came to terms with those feelings, to triumph over despair, is a story of awe-inspiring perseverance. City of One is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and of one woman's determination -- in the face of inconceivable loss -- to survive and to thrive.