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 Selection 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 r...

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

  • Emma

    Beginning with the title essay, this is a powerful and candid collection on a universal theme, showing the scope of mother-daughter relationships and their impact.

  • Carolyn

    Excellent. My favorites were Mother Tongue by Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body/My Body by Nayomi Munaweera, I Met Fear on the Hill by Leslie Jamison, and Are You Listening? by Andre Aciman.

  • 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).

  • David

    These are some intense essays. I responded to some more than others, but they all latch onto a live wire. Good writing, moving, and engaging. Nice stuff.

  • Jennifer

    Really good essay collection. I'll need to buy it in print at some point. I think listening to this essay collection took away some of my enjoyment, as I was distracted by the reader's voice. The authors of these essays laid themselves bare, and I didn't realize I would question my own mothering more than I would question my relationship with my own mom.

  • 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.

  • Sophie Rayton

    Difficult but important topics discussed. There's so much in life that keep us from being honest and authentic, this book explores what it is to be both those things and more.

  • 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.

  • Bridgit Morgan

    This collection of essays was unfortunately a bit lackluster for me.

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