The Middle of Everything: Memoirs of Motherhood

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Overview


When she was three months old, Michelle Herman's daughter, Grace, went on a hunger strike. At six, she suffered what can only be described, in the old-fashioned way, as a breakdown. And at the ripe old age of eight, she began a study of the nature of "true romance." Motherhood may come naturally, but it doesn't necessarily come easily—certainly not as easily as it seemed to this mother when she vowed to do a better job than her own mother had. But the real trouble started when Herman decided that “better” wasn't good enough: she would be the perfect mother.
 
A memoir from the front lines of motherhood by a longtime writer of fiction, The Middle of Everything weaves a daughter's memories of her Brooklyn childhood in the 1950s and 1960s, and the shadow cast on it by her own young mother's paralyzing depression, with a middle-aged woman's account of trying to break her mother's mold by meeting her own child's every need.
 
A story of love of all kinds, of work and friendship (especially best-friendship, its rewards and perils both), of the charms of other people's families, of the miseries and pleasures of aging, and of the twists of the ties that bind each generation to the next, Michelle Herman's book is an energetic, exhaustive, lacerating, unflinching, and often hilarious inside look at the very nature of motherhood.
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Editorial Reviews

Booklist

"A unique primer on the pitfalls of striving for parental perfection."—Booklist
Virginia Quarterly Review

"The Middle of Everything is a poignant, provocative, and painful book about one of life’s biggest issues—being a wonderful mother. . . . What is marvelous in the book is that somewhere amid all the recollecting of her past and examining of her daughter’s present comes a conclusion completely fresh and original. . . . It is a gift to find such candor and honesty—and even humor—on this difficult subject." —Mariflo Stephens, Virginia Quarterly Review

— Mariflo Stephens

Collected Miscellany

“A deeply personal and poignant story about coming to grips with one’s weaknesses and mistakes; of facing them and working to correct them.”—Collected Miscellany
Ohioana Quarterly

“Herman’s lucid writing and well-crafted framework give it the richness of a first-rate novel. Her discussions of maternal issues are equally brilliant, from the difficulty in separating our needs from our children’s to the way we wrap our guilt and inadequacy in judgments of other mother’s choices.”—Donna Spencer, Ohioana Quarterly

— Donna Spencer

Rain Taxi Review of Books

“An entertaining glimpse into the shared lives of a modern mother and daughter.”—Clifford Garstang, Rain Taxi Review of Books

— Clifford Garstang

Virginia Quarterly Review - Mariflo Stephens

"The Middle of Everything is a poignant, provocative, and painful book about one of life’s biggest issues—being a wonderful mother. . . . What is marvelous in the book is that somewhere amid all the recollecting of her past and examining of her daughter’s present comes a conclusion completely fresh and original. . . . It is a gift to find such candor and honesty—and even humor—on this difficult subject." —Mariflo Stephens, Virginia Quarterly Review
Kathryn Harrison

"Honest, brave, and humbling, Michelle Herman's account of striving to become the mother her child needs—one very different from the ideal she'd imagined—is the story of every woman dedicated to sparing her child the pain of her own youth. We want to believe that love doesn't make mistakes, but Michelle Herman knows the truth: like water, love assumes the shape of the vessel, always imperfect, that holds it."—Kathryn Harrison, author of The Kiss and The Mother Knot
Amy Bloom

"The Middle of Everything is honest and ugly and funny and beautiful in places where one would not even hope for bearable. Fine writing and the sure, gifted voice of the storyteller prevail, even as this family does."—Amy Bloom, author of Come to Me and A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You
Ohioana Quarterly - Donna Spencer

“Herman’s lucid writing and well-crafted framework give it the richness of a first-rate novel. Her discussions of maternal issues are equally brilliant, from the difficulty in separating our needs from our children’s to the way we wrap our guilt and inadequacy in judgments of other mother’s choices.”—Donna Spencer, Ohioana Quarterly
Rain Taxi Review of Books - Clifford Garstang

“An entertaining glimpse into the shared lives of a modern mother and daughter.”—Clifford Garstang, Rain Taxi Review of Books
Booklist - Margaret Flanagan
Herman muses on the nature of love, friendship, and aging, all within the context of her relationships with her daughter and her mother...[and] outlines, in frank, forthright fashion, her emotional reaction to the realization that she had to honestly reevaluate her own needs and desires in order to help her much-loved daughter chart her own course. A unique primer on the pitfalls of striving for parental perfection.
Virginia Quarterly Review - Mariflo Stephens
The Middle of Everything is a poignant, provocative, and painful book about one of life’s biggest issues—being a wonderful mother. . . . What is marvelous in the book is that somewhere amid all the recollecting of her past and examining of her daughter’s present comes a conclusion completely fresh and original. . . . It is a gift to find such candor and honesty—and even humor—on this difficult subject.
Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction - Maureen Stanton
Herman, with a seemingly effortless and natural essayistic voice, analyzes and examines and tests and tests again her own sense of what she knows (and we know)—that question Montaigne asked himself in the sixteenth century. Herman's style is intensely conversational, as if you were sharing a long cup of coffee and getting straight to the story of a life in full detail....The mind roams and the world and the human heart are explored....
Ohioana Quarterly - Donna Spencer
Herman’s lucid writing and well-crafted framework give it the richness of a first-rate novel. Her discussions of maternal issues are equally brilliant, from the difficulty in separating our needs from our children’s to the way we wrap our guilt and inadequacy in judgments of other mother’s choices.
Literary Mama - Patricia Payette
Herman brings a poet's flair for precise, evocative language and dramatic structure to the business of writing a memoir.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803224261
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Michelle Herman teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at the Ohio State University. She is the author of Missing; a collection of novellas A New and Glorious Life; and the forthcoming novella Dog.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2005

    Middle of Everything is top notch

    In her book, ¿The Middle of Everything¿.. Memoirs of Motherhood,¿ Herman details the motherhood adventure she began when she and husband, Glen Holland, gave life to Grace Jane Herman Holland. It is more than just a memoir, it is a refreshing look at the life of a young mother who dreams of being a better mother than her own, and then decides she needs to be the perfect mother. It is a story that mothers and daughters can relate to with a mixture of emotions from laughter to tears, and highly recommended as a gift. Michelle Herman¿s book is more than just a guide for parenting or a memoir of a mother. She writes with beautiful simplicity of the sometimes complicated world of being a daughter, a mother, and a friend. Michelle is humbled with each lesson learned from her daughter, Grace, and evidences these in this chronicle. The book is inviting, even to one who is not a mother, but a daughter, like this writer, who kept her nose in the book, slowly absorbing each descriptive word and detail. Not only is the story poignant and enticing, but also very insightful to the relationships between husband and wife, brother and sister, mother and daughter, and friends. Check out ¿The Middle of Everything¿¿¿Memoirs of Motherhood.¿ It would be a great mother¿s day gift for someone or yourself. And I would say that even if Michelle Herman wasn¿t my sister in law.

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