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Motherland

A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing
Narrated by: Elissa Altman
Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

"I’m reading this book right now and loving it!" (Cheryl Strayed, number one New York Times best-selling author of Wild)

How can a mother and daughter who love (but don’t always like) each other coexist without driving each other crazy?

"Vibrating with emotion, this deeply honest account strikes a chord." (People)

"A wry and moving meditation on aging and the different kinds of love between women." (O: The Oprah Magazine)

After surviving a traumatic childhood in 1970s New York and young adulthood living in the shadow of her flamboyant mother, Rita, a makeup-addicted former television singer, Elissa Altman has managed to build a very different life, settling in Connecticut with her wife of nearly 20 years. After much time, therapy, and wine, Elissa is at last in a healthy place, still orbiting around her mother but keeping far enough away to preserve the stable, independent world she has built as a writer and editor. Then Elissa is confronted with the unthinkable: Rita, whose days are spent as a flâneur, traversing Manhattan from the Clinique counters at Bergdorf to Bloomingdale’s and back again, suffers an incapacitating fall, leaving her completely dependent upon her daughter.

Now Elissa is forced to finally confront their profound differences, Rita’s yearning for beauty and glamour, her view of the world through her days in the spotlight, and the money that has mysteriously disappeared in the name of preserving youth. To sustain their fragile mother-daughter bond, Elissa must navigate the turbulent waters of their shared lives, the practical challenges of caregiving for someone who refuses to accept it, the tentacles of narcissism, and the mutual, frenetic obsession that has defined their relationship.

Motherland is a story that touches every home and every life, mapping the ferocity of maternal love, moral obligation, the choices women make about motherhood, and the possibility of healing. Filled with tenderness, wry irreverence, and unforgettable characters, it is an exploration of what it means to escape from the shackles of the past only to have to face them all over again.

Praise for Motherland

"Rarely has a mother-daughter relationship been excavated with such honesty. Elissa Altman is a beautiful, big-hearted writer who mines her most central subject: her gorgeous, tempestuous, difficult mother, and the terrain of their shared life. The result is a testament to the power of love and family." (Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance)

©2019 Elissa Altman (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"A bold, unapologetic look at the most sensitive of relationships, Motherland questions the unhealthy choices we make for love while conducting an unrelenting dissection of one fraught mother-daughter relationship." (Shelf Awareness starred review)

"True to the trajectory of Altman’s literary career thus far, Motherland offers something completely new not only to her own oeuvre, but also to the world of queer literature writ large.... Altman’s gorgeous new memoir makes clear...that many of us ‘want to know,’ that we ‘want to understand,’ but that we have been born into families or circumstances in which secrets and appearances and silences are held close to chest. Motherland lyrically, quietly, but relentlessly seeks out these secrets, trying to know, trying to understand." (Lambda Literary)

"This is the stuff memoirs are made of. Filled with tenderness, irreverence, and unforgettable characters, Motherland is an exploration of what it means to escape from the shackles of the past only to have to face them all over again." (Read It Forward)

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  • Rebecca Rice-Wilson
  • 09-09-19

Amazing!

Finished it in a couple days. it was riveting! Thank you for your vulnerability! Loved it

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lorilee R.
  • 21-09-20

Honest & resilient

I loved how authentic and vulnerable this love story is written of a daughters journey through life up to present day. I highly recommend for anyone looking at their own story and relationships growing up with family, guardians, caregivers, etc. It was an interesting, lovely, relatable and resilient read.

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  • Daina
  • 17-08-19

individual therapy

if you have a mommy dearest relationship, you might find solace here in this story. Mother is a trainwreck of a mother; daughter is trying work through this individual matter in her public writing. I wouldn't recommend for general consumption.