October 19 - November 5, 2017

Concord, Massachusetts

Two weeks of talks, readings, and discussions celebrating the written and the spoken word.
  • Colman Andrews
    Colman Andrews
  • Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman
  • Gordon Wood
    Gordon Wood
  • Gish Jen
    Gish Jen

Marianne Leone Cooper

Events: Writing the Hard Stories: How Memoirists Cope

Book: Ma Speaks Up: And a First-Generation Daughter Talks Back; Jesse: A Mother's Story

Visit Author's Website

Marianne Leone’s Ma is in many senses a larger-than-life character, one who might be capable, even from the afterlife, of shattering expectations. Born on a farm in Italy, Linda finds her way to the United States under dark circumstances, having escaped a forced marriage to a much older man, and marries a good Italian boy. She never has full command of English, especially when questioned by authorities, and when she is suddenly widowed with three young children, she has few options. To her daughter’s horror and misery, she becomes the school lunch lady.

Ma Speaks Up is a record of growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, with the wrong family, in the wrong religion. Though Marianne’s girlhood is flooded with shame, it’s equally packed with adventure, love, great cooking, and, above all, humor. The extremely premature birth of Marianne’s beloved son, Jesse, bonds mother and daughter in ways she couldn’t have imagined. The stories she tells will speak to anyone who has struggled with outsider status in any form and, of course, to mothers and their blemished, cherished girls.

Jesse Cooper was an honor-roll student who loved to windsurf and write poetry. He also had severe cerebral palsy and was quadriplegic, unable to speak, and wracked by seizures. He died suddenly at age seventeen. In Jesse: A Mother’s Story, Marianne Leone, chronicles her transformation by the remarkable life and untimely death of her child. An unforgettable memoir of joy, grief, and triumph. Jesse unlocks the secret of unconditional love and speaks to all families who strive to do right by their children.