When the Music Stopped: Discovering My Mother

SUNY Press
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This is the story of one woman’s decision to forfeit a brilliant career for the sake of motherhood. Once a child prodigy, Gitta Gradova traveled the world as an internationally acclaimed concert pianist, performing recitals as well as appearing with prominent orchestras of her era. Her son Thomas J. Cottle uses written records, interviews, and personal reminiscence to reconstruct her life, as well as their own mother-son relationship. He is at times a storyteller, at times a psychologist, at times a son seeking to uncover those aspects of his mother’s life he could never know, or perhaps, chose not to know until it was too late.
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About the author

A clinical psychologist and sociologist, Thomas J. Cottle is Professor of Education at Boston University. The author of thirty books, published in several languages, including At Peril: Stories of Injustice and A Sense of Self: The Work of Affirmation, his articles have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and the New Republic, as well as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the London Times, Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Feb 29, 2012
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9780791485545
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Composers & Musicians
Biography & Autobiography / Social Scientists & Psychologists
Family & Relationships / Parenting / Parent & Adult Child
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Maya Angelou
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Book club pick for Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf • A moving memoir about the legendary author’s relationship with her mother

The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.
 
For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.
 
Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.

Praise for Mom & Me & Mom
 
“Mom & Me & Mom is delivered with Angelou’s trademark good humor and fierce optimism. If any resentments linger between these lines, if lives are partially revealed without all the bitter details exposed, well, that is part of Angelou’s forgiving design. As an account of reconciliation, this little book is just revealing enough, and pretty irresistible.”—The Washington Post
 
“Moving . . . a remarkable portrait of two courageous souls.”—People

“[The] latest, and most potent, of her serial autobiographies . . . [a] tough-minded, tenderhearted addition to Angelou’s spectacular canon.”—Elle
 
“Mesmerizing . . . Angelou has a way with words that can still dazzle us, and with her mother as a subject, Angelou has a near-perfect muse and mystery woman.”—Essence
 
“True to her style, [Angelou’s] writing cuts to the chase with compression and simplicity, and there in the background is a calypso smoothness, flurries and showers of musicality between the moments of wickedness. . . . A tightly strung, finely tuned memoir about life with her mother.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“In this loving recollection of a complicated relationship, Angelou for the first time details the mother-daughter journey to reconciliation and unwavering connection and support. . . . Angelou vividly portrays a spirited woman. . . . [A] remarkable and deeply revealing chronicle of love and healing.”—Booklist
 
“Written with her customary eloquence . . . follows in the episodic style of Angelou’s earlier volumes of autobiography, pulling the reader along effortlessly. The lessons and the love presented here will speak to those trying to make their way in the world.”—Publishers Weekly

“In straightforward style, Mom & Me & Mom dives deeply into Angelou’s complicated relationship with her mother. . . . At 84, Angelou shows few signs of slowing down.”—BookPage
Thomas J. Cottle
At its heart, this book is a collection of personal accounts that speak to a variety of social concerns, from youth crime and domestic violence to public education and health care. Told by children as well as adults, these stories offer illuminating if sometimes disturbing testimony about the circumstances of life in the contemporary United States. One story, for example, depicts the precarious world of a thirteen-year-old drug dealer. Another presents the searing narrative of a woman convicted of killing her abusive husband. Still another tells the painful saga of an "atomic" war veteran fighting the ravages of a disease induced and then denied by his own government.

If the stories gathered by Thomas J. Cottle seem removed from the experience of some Americans, his telling of them often blurs the line between the extraordinary and the ordinary. As he explains in his introduction, the rules and rituals, institutions and conventions that define our social life link us in a fragile web of interdependence, what Cottle calls "the ecology of peril." Viewed in this light, the lives we lead are all in some sense "at risk," ever vulnerable to the harsh vicissitudes of inequity and injustice.

Cottle organizes his narratives into four sections -- on the perils of health, family, school, and society at large. He concludes with an afterword that addresses some of the methodological issues raised by his approach. A blend of subjective insight and objective assessment, art and science, this book represents a vision of sociology as Cottle has practiced and refined it for more than thirty years. Alternately described as "story sociology" or "life study research," its aim is to recover the personal, human dimension so often overlooked in the scientific study of society.

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