Asylum, a Memoir of Family Secrets
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About the Author
Author boldly goes against her dead father's wishes to uncover his true identity!In her new memoir, Judy Bolton-Fasman investigates lifelong questions on the strange union between her assimilated American dad and her much-younger mom, a volatile Cuban refugee
When Judy Bolton-Fasman was in graduate school in the mid-1980s, her father sent her a thick letter. But just as she was about to open the envelope, he called and told her to burn it immediately.
The eldest of three children stemming from the improbable union of a stoic, highly-assimilated Yale University graduate and World War II US Navy officer and an emotionally volatile Jewish refugee from Revolutionary Cuba 17 years his junior, Bolton-Fasman had found confusing peculiarities about her parents' marriage since she had been a child.
Torn between her curiosity to know the secrets her ill father might have revealed, and her loyalty and fear, Bolton-Fasman chose to follow instructions. She dropped the envelope into a metal wastepaper basket and set it alight.Three-and-a-half decades later, Bolton-Fasman, 60, has collected evidence revealing what may have been written in that unread missive. Although she can only speculate as to what her father might have wanted to tell her, she is certain that she has a better grasp on the mysteries of her father's life, and of her parents' unlikely marriage.Bolton-Fasman shares her memories and conjectures in a new memoir, "Asylum: A Memoir of Family Secrets," published in August. The book is her way of coming to terms with the transtiendas (the Spanish word her mother used for secrets, but literally meaning a "backroom") that permeated her childhood home and accompanied her into adulthood. "I call this a 'speculative memoir, '" said the author. "Facts and speculation come together and yield the truth.""I believe the mystery of my parents' marriage was related at least in part to the things my father never told us. He wanted the secrets to die with him, and he took them to his grave," Bolton-Fasman said in an interview with The Times of Israel from her home in Newton, Massachusetts.Bolton-Fasman's memoir takes its title from the street on which she grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut: Asylum Avenue. The "name had connotations of refuge and madness. In those matters, the address did not disappoint," she wrote.