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Book Review

All about the tie binding mothers and daughters

By Lylah M. Alphonse
Globe Staff / August 29, 2009

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Mothers always tell their daughters to wait until they have kids of their own - then, they’ll really understand family dynamics. In “Because I Love Her,’’ 34 writers share their understanding as they explore and explain the complex bonds between mothers and daughters. Edited by Andrea N. Richesin, the essays are deeply personal, powerful, and poignant. They cover such a wide range of situations and raw emotions, readers are bound to find several that speak directly to their hearts.

“I love all of my children, of course,’’ Catherine Crawford remembers her mother saying in her essay, “A Well-Earned Soak,’’ “but I am just so thankful to have my girls.’’ For some, motherhood manifests itself like a hidden talent, blooming even before a baby is born. For others, though, it’s a struggle. The stories in this book illustrate both, and more.

In “What I Would Tell Her,’’ Rachel Sarah pens a confession: “The closest relationship I have with my mother is here, on this page. But I need more than that.’’ A hastily written passage in her memoir, “Single Mom Seeking,’’ which was intended to fill a gap in her story, instead created a much larger one in her life. Katrina Onstad, a film critic, points out that other people’s mothers have had as great an impact on her life as her own, and she introduces us to them: the mean mom, the foreign one, the single mom, the mother who died young.

The stories offer insights gained from parenthood and grandparenthood, perspectives that unfold with age and experience. They also reveal how the bonds twist and change when one is inhabiting the roles of both mother and daughter. They show the way a mother’s dreams can get tangled in her daughter’s, and the mother’s aspirations becomes the daughter’s burden. They reflect how, as a parent, you fight to rise above your limitations so you can help your child - and in doing so realize how hard your parents fought to help you.

The themes vary, but each essay presents a unique and striking point. Together, they create a portrait of, not daughterhood or motherhood, but the journey that women take, the lessons they learn along the way, and the hopes and dreams that they try to pass on to the next generation.

Lylah Alphonse is a member of the Globe staff.

BECAUSE I LOVE HER: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond

Edited by Andrea N. Richesin

Harlequin, 336 pp., $13.95

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