National Book Award-winning author Colum McCann channels Diane Foley’s voice as she tells her story, as the mother of American journalist Jim Foley – in search of answers, beyond justice, found through dogged, empathetic, spiritual enquiry.
In late 2021, Diane Foley sat at a table across from her son's killer, Alexanda Kotey, a member of the ISIS group known as "The Beatles" who plead guilty to the kidnapping, torture, and murder of her son seven years before. Kotey was about to go serve life imprisonment and this was Diane’s chance to talk to the man who had been involved with brutally taking her son's last breath. What would she say to his killer? What would he reveal to her? Might she even be able to summon forgiveness for him?
So begins American Mother— which reads alternately like a thriller, a biography, a mystery, a memoir, and a literary examination of grace.
Diane looks back on the early days when Jim was a child and his journey to journalism, and the killing fields of the world where he reports with indefatigable determination and insight on the plight of those caught up in the agonies of war. She guides us through her family history and the difficulties they faced when Jim was captured. And she also charts the tenacity it takes to turn her grief into grace as she seeks to give voice to those who are still being kidnapped and wrongfully detained around the world.
Few journeys are more worthy than this and, in this astonishing book, we are all invited to celebrate the lives of those who are never, in the end, gone.