Elissa Raffa's just-out first novel "Freeing Vera," describes a miserable family history from which protagonist Frannie D'Amato attempts to free herself and her mother, Vera, in the 1960s and '70s.
Vera suffers from physical paralysis due to multiple sclerosis and emotional paralysis mostly due to Anthony (Frannie's father and Vera's husband).
On top of her struggle with MS, a weakened Vera is traumatized by Anthony's verbal abuses.
Frannie feels the burden of her parents' failed marriage and the countless emotional cruelties of her physician father.
Although Frannie has spent her life encouraging her mother to stand up for herself, she's found little success. In an effort to move forward, she relocates to Chicago, goes to college and carves out a niche for herself in a socialist-feminist-lesbian collective.
However, Frannie doesn't forget her mother, especially after her father leaves her for another man. Even after Frannie returns home to patch things up, things don't really get better.
Vera deteriorates, while Frannie continues to pick doomed fights as existentialist gloom fills the air.
On Wednesday, Raffa discusses the threads of discontent running through her recently published book.
Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m. Loft Literary Center, 1011 Washington Ave. S. Free. 215-2575, www.loft.org.