Motherless Daughters

Motherless Daughters

The Legacy of Loss

Book - 1994
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Baker & Taylor
The author joins with other women whose mothers died when they were young to discuss the lasting effects of this loss on their identity, family, relationships with others, and decisions in life

Blackwell North Amer
Ask any woman whose mother has died at an early (or any) age and she will tell you that her life is irrevocably altered; that this one fact forever changes who she is and who she will be. Gone is the caregiver, teacher, adversary, role model, and guide to being a woman. Often, whole parts of the mother's role transfer to the daughter; grieving can be cut short, cut off, or dismissed in order to "keep the family going." A daughter's relationship with her father and siblings changes and secondary losses can be overwhelming. As adults, a great variety of relationship problems can arise as a result of this primary abandonment. Transition times in a woman's life - leaving home, getting married, having a child - bring up yearnings for guidance or company and there is often nowhere to turn. Until now there has never been a book that examines the profound effects of this loss on a woman's identity, personality, family, and life choices, both immediately and as her life goes on.
Hope Edelman, who lost her mother when she was seventeen, searched for this book and when she couldn't find it, she decided to write it herself. Edelman went across the country speaking to motherless women of all ages, conducted original research, held focus groups, and consulted psychiatrists, psychologists, and experts in grieving. What she found was a country of women anxious to share their common experience. This brave and moving book interweaves Hope's own story with those of the hundreds of women who contacted her. In their own words they express how growing up without a mother continues to affect them in so many ways.

& Taylor

The author joins with other women whose mothers died when they were young to discuss the lasting effects of this loss on their identity, family, relationships with others, and decisions in life. 60,000 first printing. $100,000 ad/promo. Tour.

Publisher: Reading, Mass. : Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., c1994.
ISBN: 9780201632880
Branch Call Number: 155.937 EDE
Characteristics: xxvii, 324 p. ; 25 cm.


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flevy2 Feb 28, 2013

Having lost my mother at the age of nineteen, I identified strongly with the first few chapters of this book, which talk about a daughter's abilities/mechanisms to cope with the loss of her mother at different ages. However, the middle and latter half of the book became very boring and difficult to relate to, as the author talked endlessly about her years of self-centered behavior and rebellion leading up to and following her mother's death. I couldn't relate to these stories, and neither can the women who recommended this book to me; they all stopped reading around the middle of the book, but like me they found the first few chapters valuable.

However, an even bigger problem I have with this book is the author's subtle homophobia. She spends a great deal of time talking about heterosexual women's relationships with men following their mother's deaths, but very little time talking about the lesbian experience--even though she incorporates interviews and survey statistics throughout her book that come from heterosexual AND queer women. What few words the author DOES devote to the lesbian experience end up portraying a woman's homosexuality as a choice--either unconscious or deliberate--to regain emotional and physical closeness with her deceased mother. This conclusion is not only insulting, but ridiculous--especially considering that the author is not a mental health care professional.

In summary, I recommend the first few chapters of this book for motherless daughters who need to hear that they are not alone in their experiences of grief at any stage of life. But I don't recommend relying on this author's perspective of motherless daughters' love and intimacy with romantic partners; she can only tell people what SHE experienced as a heterosexual woman of a specific ethnicity and socioeconomic class. Her experiences with romance do NOT translate into the universal conclusions she insultingly tries to draw.

Feb 22, 2013

I read this book 30 years after I lost my mother and the author's insights were so helpful I would say this book changed my life. I often recommend it to others.


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