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If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, a Daughter, a Reporter's Notebook Hardcover – April 20, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“In this brave, funny, deeply moving memoir, [Rosman] shows readers how, even after death, love endures.” (People (3 ½ out of 4 stars))

“Rosman’s bittersweet search for meaning is compelling and at times hilarious…. These stories are about Suzy but also about a daughter whose compassionate (not to mention labor-intensive) reporting is her way of coping. They memorialize a woman who, even if you didn’t’ know her, begs to be remembered.” (Elle)

“More than mere memoir.... Rosman expertly counterbalances the bleak and grinding arc of her mother’s cancer with an inspiring tale of her quietly extraordinary life, and does so with irreverent humor, bracing honesty and the storytelling savvy of a veteran reporter.” (Christopher Walton, Detroit Free Press)

“Katie Rosman has a great gift for articulating the yearnings of daughterhood and the mysteries of motherhood. Reading her moving tale of discovery, we can’t help but contemplate the things we have yet to learn about our own parents-and about ourselves.” (Jeffrey Zaslow, coauthor The Last Lecture)

“Frank, funny, keenly reported, but also deeply moving, Rosman’s book journeys into that mysterious territory-the nature of family and the substance of love.” (Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief and The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup)

“After I picked up If You Knew Suzy, I couldn’t put it down. Katherine Rosman’s enthralling memoir presents a tender yet searching picture of a mother’s life, her death, and her lasting influence on her daughters.” (Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project)

“Rosman’s voice rings with truth, pain, and hard-won humor. . . . [A] bold, cathartic tale of a daughter’s search to find meaning in her mother’s death. She tells of her mother’s virtues and flaws with unvarnished honesty ... This book beats with a heart of its own.” (Janice Lee, author of The Piano Teacher)

“If Katherine Rosman’s detailed and heartfelt tribute to her mother doesn’t make you want to hug your own, I don’t know what will.” (Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number?)

“How marvelous to sit beside a daughter exploring her mother’s life. If You Knew Suzy is about the joys of a family balanced by the heartbreaking complexities of death. Rosman is a dogged reporter whose eye for wonderful detail is enriched by the love and empathy of a devoted child.” (Isabel Gillies, author of Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story)

From the Back Cover

Faced with the loss of her mother, Suzy, to cancer at sixty, Wall Street Journal reporter Katherine Rosman longs to find answers to the questions that we all wrestle with after losing someone we love. So she does what she does best: she opens her notebook and starts investigating.

Thumbing through her late mother's address book, Rosman embarks on a cross-country odyssey, tracking down total strangers from whom she hopes to learn about a woman she once thought she couldn't know better. With a reporter's eye for detail and nuance, Rosman creates a vivid, unflinching, and unforgettable portrait of a privately remarkable mother and woman. In the process, Rosman tells a universal tale of loss and love, capturing the angst families confront when wading through the world of doctors and hospitals, the poignancy and pain that come as a life ends, and the humor that helps transform sadness into a new and powerful brand of happiness.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (April 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006173523X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061735233
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,794,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Katherine Rosman's journalistic work for a long time, always appreciating the personal investment she brought to objective writing. This book is the very best of both - a journalistic look at the most personal story in her life: the illness and loss of her mother, and the way her family responded to it. It's sad and funny and unflinchingly honest, and I think every woman will relate to it. As Katie unwraps the mysteries of her mom's life, she is able to see herself and her unusual family dynamics in a mature and idiosyncratic new light. I feel like I did know Suzy in all her daughter-loving, Pilates-teaching, Ebay-hunting beauty.

This book speaks intensely about how tough it is to navigate the difficult decisions a family has to make when faced with life and death medical issues. And it tells the stories of some of those people who show up out of nowhere when times get tough to make life a little more angelic for everyone around them. Mother's Day is coming up and this is the perfect gift for any girl to share with her mom - a reminder that there's more to a mom than her life as a mother, and to appreciate for the perfectly imperfect time you have with each other.
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Format: Hardcover
If You Knew Suzy is unlike any memoir or biography I've ever read; it's intensely personal and poignant, yet Rosman is also every inch the journalist. In setting out to cover her mom's life, and death, she has a plan of sorts: to focus on the parts of her mom's life she didn't know much about, and to investigate why her mother was so reluctant to face the reality of the cancer that ravaged her.

Rosman takes her mother's handwritten address book and attacks it with vigor, calling everyone remotely associated with her mother. For me, it's some of the small details that stand out; her mother saying, "Take care of my eBay!" before heading in to surgery, her chastising Rosman for writing about orgasms.

Along the way, we learn about Augusta National and golf, a subject which I can safely say I have very little interest in per se, but Rosman personalizes it, from the story of getting her stepfather the chance to play at the famed (and famously exclusive) club to a woman who was Suzy's caddie and went on to a storied business career. In some ways, these side characters to the story are amongst the most fascinating, and show the ways that Suzy Rosin touched countless people. We get a Pilates history lesson and a look at a preacher who used his own grief to help many others; this cross-religious communication, a tale of the kindness of strangers, where Rosman's actions in the course of writing the book extend far beyond the page, is one that will stay with me for a long time.

Ultimately, If You Knew Suzy forces to the reader to ask the question of whether any of us would want to be reported on in such a way, by anyone.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
IF YOU KNEW SUZY: A Mother, A Daughter and a Reporter’s Notebook is a stunning memoir written by then Wall Street Journal journalist Katherine Rosman about watching (and I don’t mean her, but her various projects such as her devotion to ebay and ultimately what she makes of it), caring for and understanding her mother as she dies of lung cancer. As the author, along with her sister and stepfather, help this incredible and interesting woman leave the world, she learns so much about not only her mother’s life and interests, as well as her legacy, but about connections and how we help each other. There are some really remarkable relationships depicted in this book, both long-term and with total strangers, that just floored me, and yet, showed me that we have so much to give and so much to learn from each other in this lifetime. It shows how family might differ too, in how they grieve, but how they can stick together. Yes, there is frustration but there is humor along the way.

There were moments in the book that were painfully hard for me to read. It was fresh and almost too close as I recalled my father’s recent death and what I went through as I watched him suffer and how I imagined his experience. Another perspective always gives you just that. Another way to look at a situation. Your life. The people whom you care about.

This is one of those memoirs that I simply could not put down and at first, while you think it might just be about sadness, about dying and death, it is about living, with many life lessons to share.

Rosman’s investigative approach is nothing short of brilliant.
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By Robin on April 15, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was a difficult read for me in a lot of ways. I suspect that the author started out writing it as a way to work out her feelings after watching her mom die a tragic death. Probably because of her writing background, she kept on digging and reasearching her moms life far beyond what any normal person would do. I struggle with the 'rightness' of this as I couldn't help but feel as though I, as the reader, was invading Suzy's privacy. I wouldn't want my family to go through my e-mails and personal correspondance, epecially not my kids, after I die. I have nothing to hide, but come on, anything requiring a password to get into should be considered private and off limits. At the very least it shouldn't be published for the whole world to see.

The book was well written which simply says that Kathrine is a good author. She works for the Wall Street Journal and should possess those skills whithout having to publish a story about her deceased mother. It could be that I am biased to a degree having lost my own mother under distressing conditions as well and the book brought back some unresolved issues for me. Also, like Kate, I was pregnant when my mom died and it's an even more difficult thing for a woman to lose a mother while you are pregnant. It just is.

Aside from these things, I think Suzie was a priveleged, obsessive compulsive woman with excessive financial means and she lived a pretty boring life. I do hope however that Kate was able to work through all her unresolved issues.
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