Jessica Kluthe’s debut book Rosina, the Midwife grabbed me for three reasons. First, it’s about a midwife, and after having midwives for two of my daughters’ births, I love all things midwife. Second, it’s about Jessica’s family, and I’ve also thought about tracing and writing about my own family, so I was curious to see how Jessica dealt with the topic. Third, Jessica is a UVic grad who is now teaching at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, where my younger brother got his degree.
Rosina, the Midwife is part memoir and part family story. Jessica begins the story with a powerful yet imagined scene of her grandmother rushing to a baby’s birth. She then turns to herself and her own struggles over an unplanned pregnancy. Then she takes us with her on her search for more information about Rosina, her great-great-grandmother. This search takes her to Italy twice, where she visits Rosina’s home and grave and meets some of Rosina’s other descendents.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Rosina and about Italy and Italian immigrants to Canada through this story. Jessica’s writing is as poetic and engaging as I expected for a creative writing grad, and she puts herself in the story with brave honesty. I felt for her in the struggle to overcome barriers of time and language in her search for her ancestors. I think Jessica’s story will resonate with anyone who longs to connect with their roots—in fact, she’s made me once again want to sit down with my grandparents to hear their stories and record them before it’s too late.
“One of the greatest lessons I learned about telling true stories is that imagination is a powerful tool, sometimes even more so then standing feet on the ground somewhere, that allows us to inhabit another time and another place.” ~Jessica in Avenue Edmonton
Jessica Kluthe’s writing has been published in The Malahat Review and her 2012 essay “Scattered” won the Other Voices creative nonficiton contest. She was named one of Avenue Edmonton‘s Top 40 under 40 this year. Jessica has a BA in English and Writing from the U of A and an MFA in Writing from UVic. If you’re a writer, check out the Writing Resources on her website. You can also find Jessica on Twitter.
Rosina, the Midwife was on the Edmonton Journal‘s bestseller list for ten weeks. “Traces,” the first chapter of the memoir, was shortlisted for the Alberta Writers’ Guild James H. Gray award and appears in the anthology Telling Truths: Storying Motherhood.
I received this ebook for review from Jessica; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.