Mother Daughter Me

Mother Daughter Me

4.6 13
by Katie Hafner
     
 

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The complex, deeply binding relationship between mothers and daughters is brought vividly to life in Katie Hafner's remarkable memoir, an exploration of the year she and her mother, Helen, spent working through, and triumphing over, a lifetime of unresolved emotions.See more details below

Overview

The complex, deeply binding relationship between mothers and daughters is brought vividly to life in Katie Hafner's remarkable memoir, an exploration of the year she and her mother, Helen, spent working through, and triumphing over, a lifetime of unresolved emotions.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a curiously optimistic but ultimately doomed experiment in communal living, journalist and author Hafner (The Well) invites her 77-year-old mother, Helen, to share the household she and her teenage daughter set up together in Lower Pacific Heights, San Francisco. All three have high hopes (“How Chinese of you!” exclaimed one friend, in admiration), despite some intergenerational emotional baggage: namely, Helen’s drinking and inability to take care of the author and her sister as children; the death of Hafner’s husband, Matt, eight years before, which left their only daughter, Zoe, with intense fears of abandonment; and the grudges and resentful interdependence to which all three women are prone. Old patterns swiftly reemerge. A pianist and former computer programmer, Helen voices subtle but insidious criticism of Zoe’s musical intonation, and secretly harbors suspicion that her daughter asked her to live with her only because of Helen’s money. Meanwhile the author is frankly appalled by her mother’s frostiness and efforts to exert control, especially over the men Hafner dates. And 16-year-old Zoe displays shocking brattyness and ill manners toward her grandmother. Their year of living together elicits enormous spiritual growth, though not necessarily the way they envision. Sadly, the narrative is tedious, but some well-intentioned familial reckoning emerges. Agent: Jim Levine, Levine Greenberg Literary. (July)
From the Publisher
"Heartbreakingly honest, yet not without hope and flashes of wry humor." —Kirkus
Kirkus Reviews
Technology journalist Hafner's (A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano, 2008, etc.) one-year "experiment in multigenerational living," which forced her to confront her past and understand its impact on her present. After her 84-year-old companion unraveled, the author's mother, Helen, made it clear she wanted to live with her daughter and granddaughter, Zoë. Thinking that she and her mother were "as close to the mother-daughter ideal as could be," Hafner agreed and rented a house in San Francisco where all three women could cohabitate. It was only when they all came together under one roof that she realized she had totally misjudged the situation. In a narrative that skillfully moves between her present predicament and her difficult childhood, Hafner offers a compelling portrait of her remarkable mother and their troubled relationship. Helen was the product of two brilliant but narcissistic parents who grew into a woman hungry for attention. When Hafner's father didn't give it to her, she had ill-concealed affairs, which led to divorce. Then Hafner and her sister Sarah watched as her mother "ricocheted between involvements with various men," drowned herself in alcohol and lost custody of her daughters. The "lucky one" in her family, Hafner eventually found true love. But when her husband died suddenly, she and Zoë, who was the first to sense "the emotional energy of unfinished business" that tied the author to her mother, became traumatized. Desperate to bring peace to a feuding household, Hafner engaged the services of a family therapist, and their sessions revealed the extent to which both she and her mother denied the reality of their situation. It would only be after Sarah's sudden death, however, that both women would finally solidify the bonds they had forged anew in the painful fire of truth. Heartbreakingly honest, yet not without hope and flashes of wry humor.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812981698
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/08/2014
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
302,912
Product dimensions:
5.16(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.64(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Advance praise for Mother Daughter Me
 
“This brilliant, funny, poignant, and wrenching story of three generations under one roof is quite unlike anything I have ever read. I love Hafner’s prose, her humor, the images she conjures, her choices of what to tell and when, the weaving together of family threads to produce this luminous and lasting tapestry. The story lingered with me long after I read the last page.”—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

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