IF YOU KNEW SUZY by Katherine Rosman


A Mother, a Daughter, a Reporter’s Notebook
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Wall Street Journal culture reporter Rosman uses her journalistic skills to work through her grief over the death of her mother at age 60 from lung cancer.

In the Journal, the author wrote about attempts to better understand her mother through the perspective of those who knew her as a Pilates instructor and a collector of vintage glassware. Rosman is a solid writer and storyteller, and she portrays her mother as entertainingly sharp, even in her excruciating last days. Her reporting turns up some interesting stories. At Sloan-Kettering, where Suzy underwent aggressive surgery, a Haitian-born doctor whose humanity was a touchstone for the family truly understood their struggles—he had lost his own father to a rare cancer just weeks before. As Rosman continued her journey of discovery about her mother, some had doubts about her intentions. At a dinner party she met a man who “thought my premise—to use his term—was bullshit. ‘You’re assuming the things you find out about have underlying meaning…But really you have no way of knowing what, if anything, any of your discoveries signify.’ ” The author admits that “he wasn’t necessarily wrong,” but “if you are open to finding meaning—which is almost always an exercise of faith and almost never an exercise in certainty—you might find meaning.” Ultimately, this is not a book for skeptics; it’s for readers who see in Rosman and Suzy something like their own relationship with their mother (or daughter), and who might need to be reminded that a mother is a person too.

Offers some sweet illuminations, but a bit too light and friction-less for a book on death and mother-daughter relationships.

Pub Date: April 20th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-173523-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2010