Mother Daughter Me: A Memoir
Read if you want to: Fix, forgive or, at least, accept those flawed family relationships.
widowed, single mother Katie Hafner invites her elderly mom to move in
with her and her teenage daughter, she presents the situation as a
pastoral experiment: three generations of women under one roof in San
Francisco. Hafner is such a
likeable, rational-sounding narrator that you, too, will think this might all
work out. She describes their idyllic apartment and owns up to a few not
unexpected conflicts, such as who gets which refrigerator drawer.
Then—surprise!—she reveals that the last time she lived with her mother was
when she was 10 years old and had to be removed from the house as a result of
her mother’s terrifying alcoholism. Things get even more complicated when she
slowly admits that her mother still drinks (a little), her husband died suddenly a few years before and her older sister doesn’t speak to her. As
Hafner's own illusions fade, the book turns into a reflection on forgiveness
and—when that fails, as it sometimes does—acceptance. "What I wanted more
that anything was my mother's attention. I plotted and I campaigned. I hatched
plans. I pleaded," she says, describing her childhood. "Then, just when I thought I had her, she would slip from my grasp." Her mother very much remains in
the moving story with all her strengths and weaknesses—and, thankfully, so does
her adult daughter.
— Leigh Newman