A Mother’s Heart

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The Novella “A Daughter’s Journey”

A young journalist covering the fall of Saigon; thousands of children awaiting rescue; an ex-Marine physician devoted to their care…together, they discover the meaning of love in the midst of despair.

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Praise for “A Daughter’s Journey”

“I picked up a copy of A Mother’s Heart, and read “A Daughter’s Journey” last night.  It is the most stunning novella I’ve ever read.  You packed an incredible amount of depth, characterization, philosophy, and just plain riveting writing into 96 pages.  To cover a thirty-some year span of time, and the complex relationships. wow.  I stand in awe of your talent. Thank you for writing this beautiful, touching, difficult story.”

“All three stories [in A Mother’s Heart] have a certain emotional resonance, but Cardillo’s [“A Daughter’s Journey”] is the strongest by far. Her rich and evocative story is very well told.”
Catherine Witmer, Romantic Times Book Reviews

Read an excerpt:

The staccato tapping of the keys on Melanie Ames’ portable Smith-Corona was echoed by the monsoon rains beating relentlessly on the tin roof of Mr. Bao’s tea house across the alley from Mel’s open window. Sweat dribbled down her neck below her cropped, dark brown hair as the ceiling fan cranked ineffectually above her, shoving the moist overheated air from one side of the cramped one-room flat to the other. Mel reached for another Marlboro from the pack in the breast pocket of her loose-fitting shirt. Close up, in the yellow pool of the light cast by the lamp on the table, one could see the slender wrists emerging from the sleeves of the shirt; the delicate bone structure of her face. But from a distance, as she moved in and out of the shadows in a disintegrating Saigon, the casual observer might not notice that she was a woman. It was one of the ways she protected herself. She defined it as making herself invisible, something she had learned as a young girl living abroad with her father on diplomatic missions. People tended not to notice or realize she was there because they didn’t expect her to be. And thinking she was not there, they often said or did things she was not meant to hear or see.

She now used that talent in her profession as a journalist. People trusted her: bar girls in the noisy clubs that lined the teeming alleys of the city; shopkeepers; Navy lieutenants who ran river operations in the Delta; South Vietnamese army officers who talked to her over a beer and a cigarette.

Above the night voices of the rain and the ancient fan she heard the far off reverberation of an explosion, then another. Despite the South Vietnamese government’s insistence that it could defend Saigon, the word trickling through the city like the overrun sewers in the monsoon was that, as in Yeats’ poem, the center would not hold.

Mel knew it was time to go. But after three years of writing about it, Vietnam was under her skin. Her pulse beat to the singsong rhythm of its language. And she knew she still had one more story to write in the mounting panic and confusion of impending loss.

Stories of the search for connection and belonging