Synopses & Reviews
I Don't Blame You is a young woman’s journey of losing her mother a mere two months before becoming a mother. It follows Ana through a year of going between her home in Portland and her mother's home base in New Jersey as she battled cancer and as Ana grew a baby. The narrative begins with backstory around her mother's early life being raised by a single mother in poverty in a Bronx tenement apartment and also her father's early years in depression-era Brooklyn, both raised in challenging circumstances by Italian immigrants. It takes the reader through their bitter divorce after raising three children and after twenty-five years of marriage, which left Ana’s mother to raise her alone, the youngest of four kids by ten years, as a not very capable and mentally unwell single mother. The story continues through her hardscrabble childhood and adolescence and then pushes forward towards the year of her mother’s illness and Ana’s pregnancy. The narrative takes the reader through her mother’s death and quite soon after, a last minute decision to give birth at home, after which her mother and son became the two ships that passed in the night. The final section (epilogue) touches on the intersecting forces of both grief and joy that Ana experienced during her postpartum year.
Although there have been countless motherloss, dysfunctional family and cancer books written in the near past, the strength of I Don't Blame You is in the insight gained through processing, making sense of and working through the struggles and as well, written in a bold and often vulnerable voice. There is a certainly bit of humor around the dark edges.
"Frances Badalamenti proves to be a talented and evocative writer. I Don't Blame You is a powerful, heady, debut novel, gorgeously interweaving the story of grief, acceptance, and love. A must read." —Chloe Caldwell, author of I'll Tell You in Person and Women
About the Author
Frances was raised in Queens, New York and Suburban New Jersey, but she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and son. Her work can be found at Mutha Magazine, Hip Mama, Longreads, Vol.1 Bklyn and forthcoming in The Believer Magazine.