Mamma Mia! Good Italian Girls Talk Back

Cheryl Rossi

Homemade red wine in pop bottles and sausage-making/family-bonding sessions are aspects of my heritage that I had never seen reflected until I read Mamma Mia! Good Italian Girls Talk Back (ECW), collected by Maria Coletta McLean. As a Women’s Studies major I had analyzed the lack of cultural representation of people of colour, those with disabilities and lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgendered people, but I had never noticed the lack of representation of my own roots. And it’s all here: risking the skin on your knuckles to ensure the Parmesan is freshly grated, watching a matriarch make your friends ill by forcing them to eat too much, and lying at confession to satisfy the priest’s appetite for sin. You don’t have to be Italian, however, to relate to the many issues that translate across cultures: teenage angst associated with not looking like Barbie, the low status of unmarried women, the desire for a first-born son and the shame of having a queer family member. The book has eighteen contributors, so the storytelling is not uniform in quality, but overall it reads like an Italian Dropped Threads: What We Aren’t Told (another anthology of Canadian women writers), bearing the gift of true insight into the lives of generations of women.

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