Friday, September 7, 2012

#BookReview: Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships by Las Comadres Para Las Americas

The concept of friendship that goes beyond everyday acquaintances is nothing new.  Count On Me serves to remind us of those friendships that are so strong and so important that the only word that can define them is comadre.  Told in twelve narratives, Count On Me highlights the friendships between co-workers, neighbors, confidants and complete strangers.

In Carolina De Robertis' narrative, Every Day of Her Life, we see her and others step in to complete the book of a classmate turned comadre who died before she had a chance to finish her novel.  Though completing someone else's work can be a tremendous amount of work, the deceased Leila taught Carolina and those around her so much about living and loving that they felt the need to complete her love letter to her home country of Lebanon.

In Crocodiles and Plovers, Lorraine Lopez describes her symbiotic relationship with Judith Ortiz Cofer, the mentor she initially rejected, who would eventually push her to recognize her own talent as a writer.  In return, Lorraine drives Judith around and offers her conversation or silence, depending on what she needs.

Comadrazgo fosters mutual benefit, not dependency.

My favorite narrative comes from Esmeralda Santiago in the form of Las Comais, in which she speaks of the relationship between her mother and her comadres.  From dona Zena, the praying comai, and comai Ana, the teller of dirty jokes, to dona Lola, the midwife, Esmeralda's mother was surrounded by her closest confidantes.  I think I was so moved by this story because it reminded me of my mother and what she calls her O and Ds, oldest and dearest friends.

My mother has known Barbara, Elena and Deidre since junior high.  They attended high school and college together and pledged the same sorority.  Growing up, they were a constant presence in my life.  Even today as retired grandmothers, they still hang tight, getting together for birthdays, holidays and no reason in particular to share a meal and catch up on what's going on.  A few years ago we threw a surprise birthday party for my mother.  Her O and Ds helped out by telling her they were going out to dinner and bringing her to the venue.  Another friend was miffed because I left her out of the planning and proudly told me, "I'm one of your mother's oldest and dearest friends."  I'm sure I may have appeared rude when I told her, "You may be one of her friends, but you're not one of her oldest and dearest."  Simply put, she was not a comadre.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone that has ever experienced the comfort that comes in knowing you have a comadre that will stand by you through thick and thin, love you when you're wrong, applaud you when you're right and glow with happiness in celebration of your accomplishments.

Published: September 2012
Disclaimer: Copy of book provided by publisher, opinions are my own.

Theme: You Gotta Be by Des'ree

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