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.
 
Dreaming of a “year in Provence” with her mother, Katie urges Helen…  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.
 
Dreaming of a “year in Provence” with her mother, Katie urges Helen to move to San Francisco to live with her and Zoë, Katie’s teenage daughter. Katie and Zoë had become a mother-daughter team, strong enough, Katie thought, to absorb the arrival of a seventy-seven-year-old woman set in her ways.
 
Filled with fairy-tale hope that she and her mother would become friends, and that Helen would grow close to her exceptional granddaughter, Katie embarked on an experiment in intergenerational living that she would soon discover was filled with land mines: memories of her parents’ painful divorce, of her mother’s drinking, of dislocating moves back and forth across the country,  and of Katie’s own widowhood and bumpy recovery. Helen, for her part, was also holding difficult issues at bay.
 
How these three women from such different generations learn to navigate their challenging, turbulent, and ultimately healing journey together makes for riveting reading. By turns heartbreaking and funny—and always insightful—Katie Hafner’s brave and loving book answers questions about the universal truths of family that are central to the lives of so many.
 
Praise for Mother Daughter Me
 
“The most raw, honest and engaging memoir I’ve read in a long time.”—KJ Dell’Antonia, The New York Times
 
“A brilliant, funny, poignant, and wrenching story of three generations under one roof, unlike anything I have ever read.”—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
 
“Weaving past with present, anecdote with analysis, [Katie] Hafner’s riveting account of multigenerational living and mother-daughter frictions, of love and forgiveness, is devoid of self-pity and unafraid of self-blame. . . . [Hafner is] a bright—and appealing—heroine.”—Cathi Hanauer, Elle
 
“[A] frank and searching account . . . Currents of grief, guilt, longing and forgiveness flow through the compelling narrative.”Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A touching saga that shines . . . We see how years-old unresolved emotions manifest.”Lindsay Deutsch, USA Today
 
“[Hafner’s] memoir shines a light on nurturing deficits repeated through generations and will lead many readers to relive their own struggles with forgiveness.”—Erica Jong, People

“An unusually graceful story, one that balances honesty and tact . . . Hafner narrates the events so adeptly that they feel enlightening.”Harper’s
 
“Heartbreakingly honest, yet not without hope and flashes of wry humor.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“[An] emotionally raw memoir examining the delicate, inevitable shift from dependence to independence and back again.”O: The Oprah Magazine (Ten Titles to Pick Up Now)
 
“Scrap any romantic ideas about what goes on when a 40-something woman invites her mother to live with her and her teenage daughter for a year. As Hafner hilariously and touchingly tells it, being the center of a family sandwich is, well, complicated.”Parade

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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)
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.
From the Publisher
“The most raw, honest and engaging memoir I’ve read in a long time.”—KJ Dell’Antonia, The New York Times
 
“A brilliant, funny, poignant, and wrenching story of three generations under one roof, unlike anything I have ever read.”—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
 
“Weaving past with present, anecdote with analysis, [Katie] Hafner’s riveting account of multigenerational living and mother-daughter frictions, of love and forgiveness, is devoid of self-pity and unafraid of self-blame. . . . [Hafner is] a bright—and appealing—heroine.”—Cathi Hanauer, Elle
 
“[A] frank and searching account . . . Currents of grief, guilt, longing and forgiveness flow through the compelling narrative.”Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A touching saga that shines . . . We see how years-old unresolved emotions manifest.”Lindsay Deutsch, USA Today
 
“[Hafner’s] memoir shines a light on nurturing deficits repeated through generations and will lead many readers to relive their own struggles with forgiveness.”—Erica Jong, People

“An unusually graceful story, one that balances honesty and tact . . . Hafner narrates the events so adeptly that they feel enlightening.”Harper’s
 
“Heartbreakingly honest, yet not without hope and flashes of wry humor.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“[An] emotionally raw memoir examining the delicate, inevitable shift from dependence to independence and back again.”O: The Oprah Magazine (Ten Titles to Pick Up Now)
 
“Scrap any romantic ideas about what goes on when a 40-something woman invites her mother to live with her and her teenage daughter for a year. As Hafner hilariously and touchingly tells it, being the center of a family sandwich is, well, complicated.”Parade

“Brilliant . . . Mother Daughter Me is a beautifully written, intimately provocative, and courageous unpeeling of the deep rhythms of love, hate, fear, and redemption in three generations of females. I love this book!”—Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain
 
“An emotional whodunit that uses brilliant journalistic acumen to crack the code of old family secrets.”—Madeleine Blais, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Uphill Walkers
 
“Heartbreakingly honest . . . 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.”Kirkus Reviews

“Hafner writes with compassion and wit about the often uneasy alliance between mothers and daughters and the surprising ways in which relationships can be redeemed even late in life.”Booklist

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400069361
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/02/2013
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 9.34(h) x 0.96(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

Meet the Author

Katie Hafner is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, where she writes on healthcare and technology. She has also worked at Newsweek and BusinessWeek, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Wired, The New Republic, The Huffington Post, and O: The Oprah Magazine. She is the author of five previous books covering a diverse set of topics, including the origins of the Internet, computer hackers, German reunification, and the pianist Glenn Gould. She lives in San Francisco.

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Mother, Daughter, Me 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Luke90210 More than 1 year ago
Katie Hafner has a very nice writing style. It is easy to read and digest. In her book Mother Daughter Me, she details a year of working with her mother to solve unresolved issues between them. I found the book to be excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A truly remarkable book about family relationships. With three generations of women living under one roof , the author embarks on a quest to overcome once broken mother-daughter relationships. It is very well written and a hard book to put down. I finished it in three days. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A complex look at the relationships between mothers and daughters. This is well written and easy to enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fabulous memoir, written for anyone who has struggled with their relationship with their mother. Am writing a book myself about my relationships with my mother who lives on the east coast while I I be on the west coast. Since her Alzheimer's diagnosis our relationship has shifted in some ways. What was a distant (and yet strangely intimate) relationship has become more real, more honest. Sometimes to the point of raw, sometimes less so. Mother Daughter Me was not easy emotional reading, but it was healing as Katie shares her journey with both her mother and daughter under very difficult circumstances. If you have ever yearned for a better relationship with your mother, no matter what your background, this memoir will ring true as it poignantly shares the ups and downs of a daughter's reconciliation with her mother.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written assessment of the author's relationships, and how they change in light of new discoveries.  I raced through it in a few hours.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
abySB More than 1 year ago
I found the daughter to be less than lovable, but both her mother and grandmother, although as flawed as all of us, had a history and some wisdom with which to deal with their mistakes.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did the author mean to make everyone involved in this family seem selfish and self absorbed? Her daughter is portrayed (unwittingly) as a whiney brat.