What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence

What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence

*Most Anticipated Reads of 2019 by Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, The Rumpus, Lit Hub, The Week, and Elle.com*Fifteen brilliant writers explore what we don’t talk to our mothers about, and how it affects us, for better or for worse.As an undergraduate, Michele Filgate started writing an essay about being abused by her stepfather. It took her more than a decade to realize wha...

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Title:What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence
Author:Michele Filgate
Rating:

What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence Reviews

  • Lulu

    This was a heavy read. Essays from celebrated authors about dysfunctional relationships with their mothers. Keep your Kleenex handy.

  • Sivananthi T

    14 writers share the complexity of their feelings and relationships with their mothers. It seems mine is simultaneously all of it and none of it. For most of our lives we see and experience our mothers through our lens, our views, of what is said and done to us. And then the point begins with looking at our mothers as individuals in their own right, with stories of their own. Many years are spent in that floundering between desiring approval and receiving/ not receiving that approval; and runnin

    14 writers share the complexity of their feelings and relationships with their mothers. It seems mine is simultaneously all of it and none of it. For most of our lives we see and experience our mothers through our lens, our views, of what is said and done to us. And then the point begins with looking at our mothers as individuals in their own right, with stories of their own. Many years are spent in that floundering between desiring approval and receiving/ not receiving that approval; and running away to be free from that burden of desires and expectations. And whether we like it or not, for better, for worse we are almost always coming back to this first relationship to understand the question 'what am I all about'?

  • Meghan

    An essay collection chock full of talent and heart, from Alexander Chee to Kiese Laymon to Leslie Jamison. Good stuff.

  • Jaime

    Every essay in here - and so many great writers! - was thought-provoking and brought something new to the table. I loved how different the essays were and the richness of the collection.

  • Melissa

    A very solid collection of essays from a diverse selection of writers about the things they don’t talk to their mothers about: family history, abuse, love, protection, secrets, first husbands, expectations. Particularly poignant essays are from Alexander Chee and Brandon Taylor (the last few pages of Brandon’s gutted me, not because it’s graphic or horrible, but because it’s a wish to have understood his mom and who he knew her to be).

  • Vivek Tejuja

    Relationships are complex. Most relationships are not easy to navigate around. I think the one we share with our parents is most difficult. I have always had a problem expressing what I feel to my parents. I think it just stemmed from the fact that we do not speak enough or try to make ourselves heard enough. This has nothing to do with love not being there, or not being brought up in a healthy environment (at least in my case). It is just that we have not learned how to communicate with them. P

    Relationships are complex. Most relationships are not easy to navigate around. I think the one we share with our parents is most difficult. I have always had a problem expressing what I feel to my parents. I think it just stemmed from the fact that we do not speak enough or try to make ourselves heard enough. This has nothing to do with love not being there, or not being brought up in a healthy environment (at least in my case). It is just that we have not learned how to communicate with them. Perhaps that needs to change and maybe it will. Only time and effort can tell, to be honest.

    What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About is a compilation of essays by fifteen writers, edited by Michele Filgate. As the title suggests it is about breaking the silence. It is about talking to our mothers about what matters or has mattered the most. The collection starts with Michele’s essay about being abused by her stepfather. This took her almost more than a decade to write about and then to think how it would affect her relationship with her mother. This in turn encouraged her to reach out to other writers and see how they look at their relationships with their mothers.

    The collection see-saws from one extreme to another – while some writers are extremely close to their mothers, some are estranged beyond repair. It is the question of also mothers being first homes as we make our way into the world and a support system for most. The one whose validation we seek the most and the one with whom we also fight the most. This collection is solid and comes from a diverse selection of writers and what they do not talk about: family, love, abuse, secrets, expectations, and disappointments to say the least.

    My favourite pieces from the book were the ones written by Alexander Chee (about his sexual abuse and his not being able to fit in at school at the same time), Michele Filgate (as I mentioned it is about abuse by her stepfather), Brandon Taylor, (most heart wrenching according to me about how he wish he could’ve understood his mother better), and Nayomi Munaweera (she speaks about her mother’s borderline personality disorder).

    Regret, estrangement, the universal feeling of love and pain are the running themes in this book. There is a common trait that we all identify and relate with: That of lack of communication. How sometimes mothers don’t listen and how we don’t say what we must. But not all of the essays stem out of pain. Some are funny (rare) and some are just looking at their mothers differently – a new perspective and realizing themselves in the process, which I think we must all look at.

    Reading an essay or a collection of essays such as these is so intimate that it physically hurts you. It makes you see yourself as a person and whether or not you have evolved in relation to your mother. What is the basis of your relationship with her, beside the fact that she gave birth to you? What it actually means to get closure when you need it the most? What it does to you to take the step and speak out loud? What would it then do to your other relationships, once you cross this barrier with your mother and try and face the concealed truth? We all go through this. We have all been there. This book if anything speaks to all of us and will for sure make you sit up and perhaps call your mother.

  • BookOfCinz

    In

    we read essays from fifteen writers about their relationships with their moms and what they don't talk about. This book was such an interesting read for me. It made me feel like I am not the only person who feels like they don't know their mother or don't talk to their mother about certain th

    In

    we read essays from fifteen writers about their relationships with their moms and what they don't talk about. This book was such an interesting read for me. It made me feel like I am not the only person who feels like they don't know their mother or don't talk to their mother about certain things. The book also made me feel the urge really look at my relationship with me mother and see how I can make it better.

    A very interesting collection of stories that I think is required reading.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    These essays are varied in style and subject matter, but that is fitting since we all have different relationships with our mothers. I really noticed the recurring theme of setting boundaries as adults, and the damaging power of denial and silence. They made me very reflective - for instance I realized the expectations I had for how my mother would change after my father's death were completely wrong, and I have yet to adjust to the reality.

    I had previously read the Kiese Laymon essay (I think i

    These essays are varied in style and subject matter, but that is fitting since we all have different relationships with our mothers. I really noticed the recurring theme of setting boundaries as adults, and the damaging power of denial and silence. They made me very reflective - for instance I realized the expectations I had for how my mother would change after my father's death were completely wrong, and I have yet to adjust to the reality.

    I had previously read the Kiese Laymon essay (I think it's a chapter in the book

    , but maybe reworked a bit.) There were a few I skimmed because I did not connect with them.

    My highlights:

    What My Mother and I Don't Talk About (Michele Filgate)

    "Silence is what fills the gap between my mother and me. All of the things we haven't said to each other, because it's too painful to articulate."

    My Mother's (Gate) Keeper (Cathi Hanauer)

    "But she had admitted it's 'not worth' fighting him to have access to her daughters - or anyone else; that, point blank, she chooses placating him over talking to us."

    (I must say I resonated deeply with this essay and would give it all the stars.)

    The Same Story about My Mom (Lynn Steger-Strong)

    "There is a gaping hole perhaps for all of us, where our mother does not match up with mother as we believe it's meant to mean and all it's meant to give us...."

    Mother Tongue (Carmen Maria Machado)

    "This is what my mother and I don't talk about: That it is not my fault she is so profoundly unhappy with her life. That she had a chance to know me - really know me, as an adult and an artist and a human being - and she blew it.... it's the fear that I've learned less from my childhood than I should have, that I am more like her than I want to be."

    (Also a very stunning gut punch)

  • Hillary

    This collection of essays is human, vulnerable, and at times cathartic. It is uneven at times, but highlights unique literary voices and encourages self reflection and forgiveness.

    It is not really what I thought it would be - and with so many voices, there were obviously some essays that stand out as higher quality, that resonated more with me and made a more lasting impression. I was pleasantly surprised to see the diversity - in gender, ethnicity, economic background, life trauma experiences,

    This collection of essays is human, vulnerable, and at times cathartic. It is uneven at times, but highlights unique literary voices and encourages self reflection and forgiveness.

    It is not really what I thought it would be - and with so many voices, there were obviously some essays that stand out as higher quality, that resonated more with me and made a more lasting impression. I was pleasantly surprised to see the diversity - in gender, ethnicity, economic background, life trauma experiences, etc. - that was included in the collection. There were not many essays that hit on the central theme of the first titular essay, and instead ended up being stories of flawed, often misunderstood women whose lives have confused or alienated their children.

    I'm grateful for the vulnerability displayed by the authors included in this collection. It made me want to be more vulnerable, too. I'd love to sit in a circle with all of them, each of us holding hands. Our mothers are unknowable, whether they are friends or strangers. We're unknowable to them, as well. There's no fixing it, not really, but we can start talking about it.

  • Jo

    Essay collections can widely vary in the quality of essays which I expected, but I didn’t expect almost every essay to explore to worst mothers in the world and how writing saved the authors. I was expecting more nuanced view of less fraught relationships.

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