Friday, September 11, 2009

Book Review: Old World Daughter, New World Mother: An Education in Love and Freedom by Maria Laurino

Old World Daughter, New World Mother: An Education in Love and Freedom

Maria Laurino's book is part memoirs and part analysis of feminism in practice.

The book begins with stories of her Italian American grandparents and the lives that they built for themselves in New Jersey. Sharing anecdotes from her mother's childhood of how her maternal grandfather who came to the US at the turn of the century and created his own construction company. Growing their own vegetables and flowers, making their own wine in the basement of their home, maintaining many of their traditions and habits of the lives that they'd had in Italy. In the stories of her family, Maria Laurino shares the roles that women have held and how each generation of women would balance the expectations and needs of their families with their own needs.

She writes about feminism in the context of her own life and her identity as Italian American. "I explained how my father wanted me to attend any college that I chose and always supported my living away from home to pursue a career...[the journalist] had no idea how radical the concept of establishing an independent life was for a daughter in a traditional Italian-American family."

Laurino discusses how motherhood affected her understanding of everyday feminism. She also analyzes how feminism is regarded by college women and recent college graduates insofar as anecdotal research shows that less women seem to describe themselves as feminists while they have a deep commitment to gender equality in practice.

Overall, I found Old World Daughter, New World Mother: An Education in Love and Freedom to be an interesting read.

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. (April 13, 2009), 224 pages.
Courtesy of Bostick Communications and the author.

About the Author, courtesy of Amazon:

Maria Laurino was born and raised in northern New Jersey. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she received a B.A. in English and government, and of New York University, where she received an M.A. in English and American literature. She began her career as a journalist for the Village Voice and later became the chief speechwriter to former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins. Laurino examined ethnic identity in her first book, Were You Always an Italian?, which was published in 2000 and became a national bestseller. Her second book, Old World Daughter, New World Mother (2009), a meditation on contemporary feminism, describes the pull and tug of growing up in an Old World family that prized dependence even as she later embraced a New World feminism that championed personal autonomy. Laurino's journalism has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times,, and The Nation, and her essays have been widely anthologized, including in The Norton Reader. She teaches creative nonfiction at New York University.

Thank you so much to Bostick Communications and Maria Laurino for this opportunity!

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