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Mother Daughter Me: A Memoir
by Katie Hafner

Published: 2013-07-02
Hardcover : 288 pages
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"Book of the Week" - Oprah.com  One of Ten "Titles to Pick Up Now" by O Magazine 
One of Five Top Non-Fiction Reads for Summer 2013 by Parade Magazine"The Best Memoir I've Read This Year"- The New York Times, Motherlode Blog "Next for Your Reading List" - The AtlanticJuly ...
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"Book of the Week" - Oprah.com 
One of Ten "Titles to Pick Up Now" by O Magazine 
One of Five Top Non-Fiction Reads for Summer 2013 by Parade Magazine
"The Best Memoir I've Read This Year"- The New York Times, Motherlode Blog 
"Next for Your Reading List" - The Atlantic
July 2013 Goodreads "Mover and Shaker"
and now a Bay Area Bestseller

The complex, deeply binding relationship between mothers and daughters is brought vividly to life in Katie Hafner's remarkable memoir, an exploration of the year she and her mother, Helen, spent working through, and triumphing over, a lifetime of unresolved emotions.
Dreaming of a "year in Provence" with her mother, Katie urges Helen to move to San Francisco to live with her and Zoë, Katie's teenage daughter. Katie and Zoë had become a mother-daughter team, strong enough, Katie thought, to absorb the arrival of a seventy-seven-year-old woman set in her ways.
Filled with fairy-tale hope that she and her mother would become friends, and that Helen would grow close to her exceptional granddaughter, Katie embarked on an experiment in intergenerational living that she would soon discover was filled with land mines: memories of her parents' painful divorce, of her mother's drinking, of dislocating moves back and forth across the country,  and of Katie's own widowhood and bumpy recovery. Helen, for her part, was also holding difficult issues at bay.
How these three women from such different generations learn to navigate their challenging, turbulent, and ultimately healing journey together makes for riveting reading. By turns heartbreaking and funny--and always insightful--Katie Hafner's brave and loving book answers questions about the universal truths of family that are central to the lives of so many.
Praise for Mother Daughter Me

"This brilliant, funny, poignant, and wrenching story of three generations under one roof is quite unlike anything else I have ever read. I love Katie Hafner's prose, her humor, the images she conjures, her choices of what to tell and when, the weaving together of family threads to produce this luminous and lasting tapestry. The story lingered with me long after I read the last page." - Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

"Weaving past with present, anecdote with analysis, Hafner's riveting account of multigenerational living and mother-daughter frictions, of love and forgiveness, is devoid of self-pity and unafraid of self-blame." - Elle Magazine
"With crystalline prose and impressive narrative control, Hafner candidly probes a host of issues: the lingering impact of alcoholism and parental abandonment on adult children, how dysfunction ripples through future generations, whether it is necessary to confront the past in order to redeem it." - Slate Magazine

"Katie Hafner is a first-rate storyteller, and Mother Daughter Me is a rare, utterly riveting memoir...What a triumph this is, and what a story." - Elizabeth Benedict, editor of NY TimesBestseller What My Mother Gave Me: 31 Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most

"Heartbreakingly honest . . . In a narrative that skillfully moves between her present predicament and her difficult childhood, Hafner offers a compelling portrait of her remarkable mother and their troubled relationship." - Kirkus Reviews

"... an unusually graceful story, one that balances honesty and tact." - Jane Smiley, writing in Harper's Magazine

"Scrap any romantic ideas about what goes on when a 40-something woman invites her mother to live with her and her teenage daughter for a year. As Hafner hilariously and touchingly tells it, being the center of a family sandwich is, well, complicated." - Parade Magazine
"An emotional whodunit that uses brilliant journalistic acumen to crack the code of old family secrets." - Madeleine Blais, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Uphill Walkers

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.


No Excerpt Currently Available

Discussion Questions

1. Hafner discusses the difficulty that subsequent generations often have in not repeating the mistakes of their parents, especially when it comes to inflicting trauma on one’s children. Do you think Hafner succeeds in breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma that her own mother was unable to break? 2. In its piece on the book, The San Francisco Chronicle wrote of children of parents who drink, “While their parents black out and forget, they remember, and their memories, their stories, matter. More than assigning blame, this is Hafner’s point—and her memoir is a brave manifestation of it.” Do you agree with the writer of the article? Do you think Hafner steers clear of assigning blame? To what extent do you think it is necessary make a parent confront the details of a difficult past? 3. Money plays a significant role in the book. Discuss why money can be such a flashpoint for families. Why do you think it was a point of contention in Mother Daughter Me?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

"I believed then, as I do now, that my mother had no intention of being the agent of sorrow and hurt, that she was doing the best she could, that she wanted to take care of her girls but got tripped up—by the burden of expectations, by a marriage that wasn’t what she thought it would be, by the hardship of raising two kids on her own. Once alcohol entered the mix, she didn’t stand a chance. And neither did we."

Book Club Recommendations

by jpw28037 (see profile) 08/12/14

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Dysfunction "by Julia W. (see profile) 08/12/14

I found the Mother and the author to be thoroughly unlikelable! I could not identify with either.

What a bunch of disagreealbe people!

The narrative is choppy, sometimes diffucult

... (read more)

  "Touching & Heartbreaking Memoir "by Danielle G. (see profile) 04/14/14

An honest portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship in complete disarray.

  "Memoir"by Maria G. (see profile) 03/28/14

Slow moving depressing story about repressed anger over an alcoholic mother.

  "Mother, Daughter, Me"by Brenda D. (see profile) 03/10/14

This was a believable memoir, and I think it was honestly written. It was interesting to watch the "me" mature.

  "Intimate, Moving Portrayal of Family"by Trish F. (see profile) 08/13/13

Hafner has experienced more than her fair share of life’s sorrows, and though at times I was moved to tears, she doesn’t dwell on misery. In this moving and honest account of her attempt to share a... (read more)

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