Date of Award


Document Type

USM Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Susan Conley

Second Advisor

Aaron Hamburger

Third Advisor

Justin Tussing


Portuguese American and Jewish cultures clash in a small New England town. A young mother and artist struggles to cope with her husband’s unexpected medical prognosis, as she seeks to honor his wishes and family secrets are revealed. Married for 10 years to a man she has idolized, Rebecca Kahn-Gaspar has adopted her husband’s world view as her own—his opinions and judgments of his family, religion and community—but when he is paralyzed by a stroke and unable to speak, she is the one who will have to make choices concerning their family’s future, decisions unfiltered by her husband’s influence.

Written primarily in close third person perspective from the viewpoint of Rebecca, alternating sections in the novel are told in first person by Manny Gaspar, Rebecca’s brother-in-law and chief antagonist, who views Rebecca as an obstacle preventing him from getting what he wants—control of the family’s real estate. In the process of preparing for her husband’s death, Rebecca must come to terms with the Gaspars and accept that everyone has flaws—including herself—and that Diogo is not the perfect man she’d imagined him to be.


This is a record is restricted to USM access only.