As the author’s life unfolded it appeared to many that it was very much a fairy tale, and she was encouraged repeatedly to write about her magical experience. However, not until international/interracial adoptions became a popular development, did she decide to write about important issues in her experience of having grown up and lived, all her life, among a race and a culture different to her own. The privileged existence began in a humble abode at the end of a Guatemalan jungle river. However, she was raised by a German family and grew up fluent in German, Spanish, and English. Catana attended the best private schools and in tenth grade entered an exclusive international boarding school in Jamaica, WI where she completed the AL Higher Schools Certificate from Cambridge University, England. Expecting to become an international interpreter, the author continued her studies at a language academy in Munich, Germany. However, she was called to work in a play and discovered an affinity and talent for the dramatic arts. As the actress and fashion model Catana Cayetano, she worked on the Stage, in Films, and TV in Germany, Austria, and Italy. In Munich, she married Frederick V. Tully, an American actor and TV announcer, and had a son. Ultimately the family moved to the United States. No longer interested in acting, Catana completed various degrees including a DA (Doctor of Arts) in Humanistic Studies in Upstate New York. She retired from her position as tenured Associate Professor at SUNY Empire State College in 2011 to dedicate herself to publishing Split at the Root: A Memoir of Love and Lost Identity, her first book. What seemed like a fairy tale life to others was not necessarily so for the protagonist. That will become clear to the reader as she/he follows her on a journey that uncovers issues Catana faced, from the perspective of the exotic child adopted into a White world. The writer reveals how the magic carpet her adoptive German mother so lovingly and carefully wove for her, could at times become a mangy rug to be cruelly pulled from under her feet. This book is intended to be a gift to parents who have adopted exotic children, and to those children who are growing up removed and alienated from their ethnicity and culture.
SPLIT AT THE ROOT
A Memoir of Love & Lost Identity
In this dramatic and beautifully written memoir, the author explores questions of race, adoption and identity, not as the professor of ethnic studies that she became, but as the black child of German settlers in Guatemala, who called her their “little Moor.” Her journey into investigating the mystery of how these White foreigners became her parents begins when she reluctantly considered joining an African-American organization at the U.S. College where she taught. She realized it was not just her foreign accent that alienated her from Blacks. Under layers of privilege (private schools, international travel, the life of a fashion model and actress in Europe) she discovered that her most important story is one of disinheritance. The author’s determination to find out who her mother and father really were, and why she was taken from them, tests the love of her White husband and their son, leads her to embrace and then reject the charismatic man she believes to be her biological father, and takes her to the jungles of Guatemala to find a family that has kept her memory alive as legend. In the book’s shocking ending, she learns truths about her mother, and the callous disrespect committed long ago against mother and child in the name of love.
Tristine Rainer, Director of the Center for Autobiographic Studies;
Author The New Diary and Your Life as Story.
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