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Cambridge-based author writes another book set in Stratford

Tara Mondou spent her summers in Stratford when she was younger. Now, after writing a book set in Stratford during the 1950s, she's written a companion novel taking place in the 1970s and 1980s. To celebrate, Mondou is holding a book launch at Fanfare Books on Saturday

A new novel depicting Stratford in the 1970s and 1980s is hitting the shelves.

Tara Mondou is a Cambridge-based author who spent her summers in Stratford when she was younger. Her new book Me and My Shadow: Tara’s Story is a follow-up to her debut 2016 novel Little Girl in the Mirror: Cathy’s Story

Me and My Shadow is a story about family and generations of women coming together over love and forgiveness, as Mondou wrote on her website. She spoke with StratfordToday to talk about her newest release and the shadow she wrote about. 

“This is a true story of my family, focusing mainly on the women in my family,” Mondou told StratfordToday. “This happens to be my family's story, but I don't feel like it's unique. I think a lot of families - most families - will experience difficult relationships with each other.”

The name of her novel comes from the song most famously sung by Frank Sinatra. It is a song that Mondou used to sing over and over again when she was younger. The name came to her as she was writing the book when a sudden realization came over her.  

“There is a shadow cast upon this family … It's really a story about the girl working through what the shadows are and her trying to figure out how to lift the shadow and see what's going on underneath.”

Me and My Shadow is a companion novel to her first book Little Girl in the Mirror, which also takes place in Stratford. The two books are in the same series, though Me and My Shadow is not a sequel per se, rather independent stories about the same family.  

Mondou calls these books creative nonfiction. Both are based on true stories, however, there is some extrapolation that veers far from autobiography. 

The first book is told from the perspective of Mondou’s mother growing up under her grandmother. Because both have passed away, the events are not 100 per cent true to life. Mondou had to fill in the gaps from what she was told growing up and the diary entries her mother left behind. 

Mondou’s grandmother passed in 2006 and her mother passed in 2010. Neither were able to read the books that Mondou has written about them. 

Mondou did share that her mother would often tell her stories of her childhood, and Mondou would tell her mother to write her story. Her mother assured her that she couldn’t write it but gave her a sense of permission to write it herself. They even came up with the first title together.

Mondou self-published the books, wanting control over the story that she was writing. 

When she was writing her first book, she expressed that she had no idea what she was doing. Along with another friend, they established Cambridge Authors, a group of local writers that would come together and talk about all things writing, publishing, marketing, and selling their books. 

Cambridge Authors is now almost six years old. 

Mondou said that community is integral to writing. Without the relationships she has, she would not be able to bring her story to as many people as she has. 

Mondou is hosting a book launch at Fanfare Books at 92 Ontario St. on Saturday, Nov. 19. Taking place from 2-3:30 p.m., both of her books will be available for purchase and she will be available to sign them. 

She stresses that the story is universal, that anybody in Stratford or around the world could be able to relate to the story of a young girl grappling with her family’s history. 

“These stories are really timeless. These relationships could have happened 100 years ago or they could happen 100 years from now."