Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing

Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing

"I'm reading this book right now and loving it!"--Cheryl Strayed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of WildHow can a mother and daughter who love (but don't always like) each other coexist without driving each other crazy? "A wry and moving meditation on aging and the different kinds of love between women."--O: The Oprah Magazine ("2019's Best LGBTQ Books")After survivi...

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Title:Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing
Author:Elissa Altman
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Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing Reviews

  • Peter Zheutlin

    Elissa Altman is the rare writer who seems to produce a gem with every sentence. Her prose is pitch-perfect and her eye for the telling detail is keen. Though her relationship with her narcissistic mother is difficult, and she's often on the receiving end of small, if not always intentional cruelties, her love and devotion to this vain and complex woman are heroic. Through it all Altman's wry humor and wit remain intact. This is a book of enormous heart and humanity. Quite simply, I loved it.

  • Katie Devine

    Elissa Altman's gorgeous new memoir, Motherland (her third) was the exact blend of poetry and love story I very much needed this week.

    “My mother is beauty and she is music, and I love her to my bones. If she is broken, we are both broken. If she is whole, we are whole.”

    This most primal of relationships, the most fierce and complex and formative and damaging and abiding, is mined through Altman's most intimate memories and rendered through a poet’s precise and evocative language. At times I stop

    Elissa Altman's gorgeous new memoir, Motherland (her third) was the exact blend of poetry and love story I very much needed this week.

    “My mother is beauty and she is music, and I love her to my bones. If she is broken, we are both broken. If she is whole, we are whole.”

    This most primal of relationships, the most fierce and complex and formative and damaging and abiding, is mined through Altman's most intimate memories and rendered through a poet’s precise and evocative language. At times I stopped to read the words out loud to hear them echo beyond my head. This love exists alongside the fury and pain—is, in fact, composed of the fury and pain—and alongside Altman's deeply cherished marital love. But love it is, and the reader is thrust into the hot center of it.

    Brimming with palpable longing (for both the mother and baby she needs and is never able to have), lush, serene moments with Altman's wife and the gorgeously detailed landscapes of Altman's history (Queens, Manhattan, Connecticut, Maine) Motherland is a must-read this summer.

  • Alice

    Motherland is far more than just the memoir of a mother-daughter relationship. Elissa Altman’s complex story and oft-times obsessive connection to a sometimes-demonic narcissist of a mother is both an addiction in its own right; and a compulsively seductive story of passionate love, concealed rage, disappointment and a yearning for redemption. This spectacularly well written tale of profound connection is clearly a relationship that needed to be told and must be read.

  • Lucy Burdette

    Elissa Altman tells the astonishing and poignant story of her troubled relationship with a narcissistic mother. It's beautifully written--alternately funny and tragic. I loved it.

  • Stacie Saurer

    **I received a Kindle version of this book as a Goodreads giveaway.**

    As someone with her own complicated mother-daughter relationship, this book hit home. I look at others with these magical, my-mom-is-my-best-friend experiences and can't help but feel like something is missing in my own life. Like Altman, I could never completely cut the cord and will always find my mother's life intertwined with my own.

    Altman's descriptions of her mom sometimes made me laugh out loud while other times cringe

    **I received a Kindle version of this book as a Goodreads giveaway.**

    As someone with her own complicated mother-daughter relationship, this book hit home. I look at others with these magical, my-mom-is-my-best-friend experiences and can't help but feel like something is missing in my own life. Like Altman, I could never completely cut the cord and will always find my mother's life intertwined with my own.

    Altman's descriptions of her mom sometimes made me laugh out loud while other times cringe with empathy. I loved that her story wasn't told in a linear fashion, but instead jumped from adult to childhood to college and back, as if the book was a collection of her own therapy sessions.

    It's been a long time since I've read something that felt so honest and unembellished. Altman held nothing back in this memoir and the result is an absolutely wonderful read.

  • Sara D

    This memoir lays bare Elissa Altman's troubled relationship with her mother. I am from the upbringing that dictates "no one bad-mouths my mother but me", So you can listen to me complain about my mother as long as I want to rant, but you had better not chip in, because that's my mother! So, I find it difficult here to say anything about Altman's mother, but I don't have to, because I am the gentle listener to her incredibly well-written, well-articulated "rant" about her mother. But it is not a

    This memoir lays bare Elissa Altman's troubled relationship with her mother. I am from the upbringing that dictates "no one bad-mouths my mother but me", So you can listen to me complain about my mother as long as I want to rant, but you had better not chip in, because that's my mother! So, I find it difficult here to say anything about Altman's mother, but I don't have to, because I am the gentle listener to her incredibly well-written, well-articulated "rant" about her mother. But it is not a rant. It is a carefully documented and deeply analyzed, lovingly so, account of her life as her mother's daughter. I wholeheartedly recommend this memoir to readers of memoirs, to readers of exquisite prose, to readers seeking finely sculpted literary works. Thanks to Random House and netgalley for the arc of this book.

  • kglibrarian

    After hearing Elissa Altman being interviewed by Zibby Owens for her podcast Mom's Don't Have Time to Read Books (I highly recommend it if you like books), I was compelled to read Motherland to find out more about this fascinating author.

    In this honest, poetic memoir, Altman catalogues her dysfunctional relationship with her mother, who was semi-famous earlier in her life. Singing on TV shows and in popular New York City clubs, Rita made it clear to her daughter throughout her life that appearan

    After hearing Elissa Altman being interviewed by Zibby Owens for her podcast Mom's Don't Have Time to Read Books (I highly recommend it if you like books), I was compelled to read Motherland to find out more about this fascinating author.

    In this honest, poetic memoir, Altman catalogues her dysfunctional relationship with her mother, who was semi-famous earlier in her life. Singing on TV shows and in popular New York City clubs, Rita made it clear to her daughter throughout her life that appearances mattered more than feelings and personal growth. With a timeline that skips around from her early life in Forest Hills, Queens to her present home in Connecticut, where she lives with her wife of 20 years, Elissa uses personal anecdotes to highlight her mother's narcissistic personality and how it damaged her and all of her relationships. Though Elissa's relationship with her father is a healthier one, she loses him too early and as an only child, is burdened with taking care of her mother as she ages.

    One of my favorite aspects of this memoir is its setting in New York City and its surrounding areas. She writes with such clarity about all the details that make up a New York scene, and has the ability to paint a vivid picture of each encounter she has with her mother and other family members. Although I enjoyed reading this book, I was also left with a sense of sadness because of how much hurt and abuse Elissa had to endure. I found it extremely frustrating that she did not set more boundaries for her mother, whose behavior induces guilt and shame in Elissa. At the same time I admired how much she sacrificed for her mother; her loyalty and dedication is beyond what her mother deserved at times.

  • Kristina Elias

    * I was provided with an advanced e-book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    "Give me your shorts. The pleated ones." "You hate pleats." "GIVE ME YOUR SHORTS OR I WILL KILL MYSELF."

    I felt badly about giving MOTHERLAND 2.5 stars. Clearly, Elissa Altman's story was a difficult one to tell, but the way she wrote it undercut her sad and dramatic story.

    Altman's story is about her mother and her obsession with her own beauty. Beginning at a young age, Elissa was molded into the mirror ima

    * I was provided with an advanced e-book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    "Give me your shorts. The pleated ones." "You hate pleats." "GIVE ME YOUR SHORTS OR I WILL KILL MYSELF."

    I felt badly about giving MOTHERLAND 2.5 stars. Clearly, Elissa Altman's story was a difficult one to tell, but the way she wrote it undercut her sad and dramatic story.

    Altman's story is about her mother and her obsession with her own beauty. Beginning at a young age, Elissa was molded into the mirror image of her mother by her mother. Although she preferred pants and T-shirts, her mother would force her into Red Red Red lipstick and luxury furs. As she grew older, Altman wished to separate herself from her mother, but isn't sure how.

    Though an established writer, Altman seems to love her metaphors. While reading MOTHERLAND, I noticed how many she used in one sentance. It was like she was trying to draw too many similarites to make people relate to her tale. In some instances, it was effective; in others, it was downright annoying. Two or three metaphors to describe a single moment? It doesn't read well and doesn't keep the reader interested.

    The author's writing was also very 𝘸𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨. Some parts were incredibly detailed where it should've been vague; others were too vague where they should've have been intricately written. I didn't feel as though Altman's heart was in the novel, as if it was just a memoir she had been forced to write.

    Another negative: I didn't feel anything. I kept looking for something that made me feel, but I couldn't find anything. For most of the book, I was bored, as it seemed repetitive and haphazard to a point. But still, I didn't feel anything. That was a big factor in my rating of MOTHERLAND.

    MOTHERLAND's story, though, was well crafted. The points at which Altman showcases her mother's obsession with her own beauty are well-placed and carefully written. There wasn't anything bad about it: in fact, her mother's story and her own are equally fascinating in their own respects, although they are both sad.

    A second positive point: I was able to easily invision the people whom Elissa wrote about. I did feel like I knew her parents and Gaga, Susan and others. Her character descriptions were excellent and well-crafted.

    All in all, I wouldn't have disliked MOTHERLAND if the emotion had been there and the words had flowed better. I couldn't feel Altman - her heart, her soul. I felt like this was forced out of the author, rather than something truly written by herself rather than for herself.

  • Donna Hines

    Can opposites attract? Can a narcissistic mother truly love? Can the narc daughter every truly be herself under the confines of this unsteady, turbulent, egotistical relationship?

    Can you truly have a maternal bond when the maternal aspect is missing?

    Having a mother of the same magnitude I can tell you the answer is NO!

    Narc mothers only truly love one person themselves.

    In fact both my narc parents are elderly and in need of assistance and as the days get longer it's more and more exhausting to pa

    Can opposites attract? Can a narcissistic mother truly love? Can the narc daughter every truly be herself under the confines of this unsteady, turbulent, egotistical relationship?

    Can you truly have a maternal bond when the maternal aspect is missing?

    Having a mother of the same magnitude I can tell you the answer is NO!

    Narc mothers only truly love one person themselves.

    In fact both my narc parents are elderly and in need of assistance and as the days get longer it's more and more exhausting to partake in their displeasures. It's become so unbearable that I've tried to completely separate from the family for my own sanity. Nothing you do will ever be good enough. You lose a sense of self when you are around this toxicity.

    A bottomless pit, full of emptiness, darkness, and smoke and mirrors will never be equivalent to love, value, empathy, compassion, and guidance.

    While one cannot in adulthood fully blame a parent for their mistakes one cannot fully ignore the lack thereof that should've been provided throughout childhood.

    I feel for the author but for me I couldn't connect on any emotional fulfilling level here.

    Thank you to Elissa, the publisher, Netgalley, and Amazon Kindle for this ARC in exchange for this honest review.

  • Alissa

    Note: Thank you to NetGalley, from whom I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Elissa Altman is a wonderful writer in the sense that with her words he enables the reader to fully picture the scenes, the people, the places about which she writes. In this case, I do feel like I know Elissa's parents, step-parents, Gaga (grandmother). I feel like I can picture both her mother's NYC apartment and Elissa's Connecticut cottage. There is no doubt, Elissa has a way with wor

    Note: Thank you to NetGalley, from whom I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Elissa Altman is a wonderful writer in the sense that with her words he enables the reader to fully picture the scenes, the people, the places about which she writes. In this case, I do feel like I know Elissa's parents, step-parents, Gaga (grandmother). I feel like I can picture both her mother's NYC apartment and Elissa's Connecticut cottage. There is no doubt, Elissa has a way with words. However... this is the second book I have read by this author and just as with the first one, I am not sure I get the point of this book. I kept waiting for the "so what?" We all have crazy mothers. I am sure I am turning into a crazy mother. But with a memoir such as this, I would expect some type of redemption or resolution or meaning drawn from the stories but to me it felt more like a few hundred pages of complaining about a narcissistic mother, and then it ends, seemingly because the writer has gotten to present day so she stops. It feels a bit self-indulgent and since she doesn't share any good, redeeming, loving memory of her mother instead of eliciting my sympathy that she might be asking for through this book, she instead brings out feelings of frustration and annoyance.

    Elissa Altman is a talented writer and has a way with words - I just wish she used that talent and ability to produce books that are less for her own therapy and more for the entertainment of her readers.

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