You have to leave home more than once to get it right.
New York, the 1970s: Frannie D'Amato, activist, young artist, and unashamed truth-teller, wants to awaken her disabled mother, Vera, from her 1950's housewife slumber and rescue her from physical neglect; to call to account Anthony, her arrogant physician father; to convince indifferent onlookers about the urgency of her struggle—and, if possible, to save her own neck.
Freeing Vera travels with Frannie through a vivid and highly-charged decade, from adolescence into adulthood, as she runs away from her family and back several times. On her own in the world, Frannie makes common cause with disability rights activists, left-wing artists, socialist lesbian feminists, and media figures real and imagined—all of whom make justice their religion and bolster her indomitable hope of somehow curing her family's ills. But back at home truth is enigmatic, not static. The childhood monster that Fannie once battled keeps growing new heads. Ultimately, she must free herself to love.
Compelling and funny, evocatively written and elegantly structured, Freeing Vera recalls the turbulent optimism of the 1970s for young people in America—and at the same time casts an emotionally accurate light on the complexities of independence, caring, confrontation, forbearance, loyalty, disappointment, and greed that all truth-seekers and their kin must face.
"Passionate, sometimes heart-breaking, and, from the first sentence to the last, addictively readable, Freeing Vera presents a luminous portrait of an almost-grown woman working to discover and define herself in the context of a troubled family. Elissa Raffa has written a powerful, eloquent novel about the limits of devotion, obligation, and what, finally, is actually achievable in the on-going struggle between self and family."—Anna Cypra Oliver, author of Assembling My Father: A Daughter's Detective Story"With humor, brilliant writing and unflinching honesty, Elissa Raffaholds up a mirror for all of us to make sense of the predicament of living in a deeply disturbed family. Freeing Vera is brimming with life and taps into the amazing capacity of the human spirit to persevere.” —Charlotte Sophia Kasl, author of If the Buddha Dated: Finding Joy, and Women, Sex and Addiction
was born and raised in New York, spent much of her adult life in Minneapolis and now lives most of the year in Greece. Her writing has appeared in Water~Stone, Evergreen Chronicles, Sinister Wisdom, Bearing Life: Women's Writing on Childlessness, and many other periodicals and anthologies. Freeing Vera
is her first novel. As a work in progress it won several fellowships and other honors.