While I am not a fan of memoirs in general, and even less of those written by “everyday” people, here and there I do find an exception to the rule. The Modern Voice of an Irish Immigrant by Imelda Cummins-DeMelkon certainly fell into the category of complete exceptions. While we share extremely little, besides the common religion and the fact that we both immigrated to United States, I felt completely immersed in her story and deeply connected to a lot of her writing.
There were several sections of this book that really pulled at my heartstrings, particularly Chapter One, where she dealt with the visit to her severely aged mother, whose mind wandered more and more. That one made me put the book down and cry. While hopefully not an imminent issue, aging parents are a scary prospect, and decidedly more so when one lives thousands of miles away. I rarely felt somebody’s pain this acutely through their writing, and I found myself rereading the chapter several times, savoring every word and every nuance of writing.
Then there were all the passages dealing with one’s national identity while living outside of one’s country, emphasized even more when one marries somebody from yet another culture. I believe it is then that little tastes and touches of one’s native culture become even more important to maintain, and Imelda Cummins-DeMelkon offered several tantalizing glimpses into just such events.
While Imelda Cummins-DeMelkon’s writing got rather tense and brusque at times, and there were several editing and proofreading issues, overall I did find this to be an enjoyable book. I would recommend The Modern Voice of an Irish Immigrant to anybody who enjoys candid and heartfelt stories, or who wants to understand more about how it feels to be an immigrant.