What My Mother Gave Me by Elizabeth Benedict

Title: What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most
Author: Elizabeth Benedict
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Expected Release: April 2, 2013
Source: publisher (NetGalley)


Women look at the relationships between mothers and daughters through a new lens: a daughter’s story of a gift from her mother that has touched her to the bone and served as a model, a metaphor, or a touchstone in her own life. The contributors of these thirty-one original pieces – all written specifically for this book – include Pulitzer Prize winners, perennial bestselling novelists, and well-known NPR commentators.

I was a little nervous that What My Mother Gave Me would be a simplistic, feel-good collection of daughters’ memories of their mothers, where every story is perfect and happy. I was relieved to discover that the book is much deeper and more authentic than that. This collection of essays portrays the beauty that can be found in a wide variety of mother-daughter relationships, whether the relationship was one that offered endless support and unconditional love, was terribly complicated and broken, or somewhere in between. Even daughters who experienced heartbreakingly unhappy childhoods reflected a valuable gift their mother had given them, something that greatly impacted their lives. Each piece in the book was very relatable, and gave readers the opportunity to consider complex mother-daughter relationships from different perspectives and contexts. Fond, happy memories were never overly mushy. Difficult ones weren’t glossed over or whitewashed. It was refreshing, and gave the entire collection a genuine, honest feeling. Still beautiful, still sentimental, but real.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

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