Thursday, October 21, 2010
For You Mom, Finally (memoir)
For You Mom, Finally by Ruth Reichl
In this slim volume, the author, a former New York Times food critic, editor of Gourmet magazine, and author of several books, delves into the life of her mother, now deceased, trying to figure out what made this woman tick. Her mother's life was always fraught, and she succeeded in driving her daughter away with her eccentricities and deep unhappiness and dissatisfaction with her own life. After her death, the author sets out to locate a box of her mother's letters and diaries that was supposed to exist, and find the box she does. Inside she is is finally able to get inside her mother's head and get to know a woman she never really knew or understood when she was living. It ends up being a journey of self-discovery for the author, as well as an opportunity to finally begin to heal from old wounds. She wrote this book as a gift to her mother, believing that her mother would have liked her story to be told so that she could be understood, and to thank her for the lessons and gifts she now understands that her mother gave her.
I bought this book on a whim on a recent trip to the bookstore because (a) I'm a sucker for a memoir, and (b) I tend to be drawn to stories having to do with mother-daughter relationships because my own relationship with my mother has always been so volatile and unhealthy. There is a part of me that hopes, I guess, to find the key by reading other people's stories of their own mother-daughter relationships - not the key to reconciling with my mother, but to understanding where it all went so terribly wrong, and to preventing it from happening with my own daughters.
This was also a fascinating read to me because it came on the heels of having read When Everything Changed, and this is an actual, personal (though somewhat second-hand) account of one woman's experience of having lived in an era when even the brightest, most motivated and ambitious women were encouraged to squelch any dreams they may have had outside of getting married, raising children, and maintaining households.
I really enjoyed this book and found it moving and thought-provoking. It's a quick read, and mine's up for grabs.