...a collection of intimate and authentic personal essays, with each piece telling its own heartfelt story of silence ... Each essay is a complete experience in itself, with its own arc and epiphany. Even though many essays share the same theme, they are written by authors from different worlds, and each deserves our full attention ... Filgate has done a magnificent job of gathering pieces written with love and passion ... what remains is the astonishment of unimaginable emotions.
This generous, mature recognition of the ways in which so many of us overestimate the capacities of mothers — who were people with lives and loves and wants and hurts and complexities before they ever gave birth — colors many of the stunning essays in this anthology ... Though no two essays feel even remotely alike, there are recurring themes ... While each essay is its own beast, containing its own wild, wonderful, woeful, willful or warring mother figure, the collection as a whole holds together precisely because there is something recognizable in each and every piece ... each and every one comes to recognize this fact: that every mother is human first, mother second.
...my best answer to the question of whether you should gift this to your mom is, 'Sure, if you don't mind having some uncomfortable conversations.' That's not an insult, by any means ... Chicken Soup for the Soul this ain't. There's a lot of pain in this book — ranging from the simple yearning to know Mom better to the trauma of abuse and addiction — and the tales come from a diverse, accomplished array of writers ... Reading the book is to take the sacred mother-child ideal down from its pedestal and inspect it, dissect it, run tests on it, muck it up a bit ... it's also about the gut punch that happens when some children are forced to legitimately wonder just how good their mothers' intentions ever were ... As it turns out, in a relationship where love is so often implied, so much else still needs saying.
Are You Listening? is an affecting, beautiful and profound piece ... Hanauer offers the gift of a real person in her father, warts and all. Art is in the details, as the truism goes, and two pieces underscore that ... Our relationship with our mothers is elemental. In inviting such skilled writers to attempt to fathom this charged connection through the angle of what is unsaid, Filgate, a contributing editor at Literary Hub, 'breaks the silence,' and the result is resonant, truthful and instructive.
...[an] astonishing anthology ... These collected essays are variously rich, tender, angry, despairing and clinical. The result, greater than the sum of parts, is part paean and part denunciation, intelligent, heartfelt and wise. What My Mother and I Don't Talk About is a shrewd, glinting collection of beauty and pain: a gift for mothers and their children.
The essays are as much about being mothered as they are about the mothers themselves, striking an empathetic nerve that all children will find stirring ... But by tackling 15 child-mother relationships, this collection reveals that we gain nothing from letting a false sense of competition get in the way of communication. Communication with our mothers, yes, but also an honest dialogue with ourselves about what these relationships mean, how they shape us and where the boundaries rest now that we’re adults ... All of the writers tackle relationships with their biological mothers, unfortunately leaving adopted mothers and non-cis women mothers out of the picture. But the collection still contains a staggering breadth of experience ... the essays run a gamut that leaves the reader emotionally raw ... proves that moms contain multitudes, and it’s a messy business to be raised by such multitudes is.
...many of the contributors, like Filgate, write courageously about these formative and often fraught relationships ... One fascinating thread throughout the book involves the contributors’ mothers gaining insight into their children, and the topics they avoid, by reading their words.
The biggest problem that seems to face many of the writers in this collection is how this cultural narrative renders them incapable of really seeing their mothers as people ... Of course, while it is possible to draw patterns, ultimately What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About shows us fifteen ways that fifteen people understand their mothers ... The book cracks open our expectations, asking us why we let ourselves be blinded by the myth of the mother so much that we can’t see our mothers as people—as complicated and varied as the rest of us.
From the first page of the introduction ... this collection is honest and riveting. Most of the essays are pointedly literary and lyrical; many include meta-reflections on the nature of truth-telling, and the narrators show themselves thinking and rethinking the claims they hazard and then revise about their mothers. For the most part, the collection avoids cliché and sentimentality; equally remarkable, each one of these intimate and gut-wrenching essays reaches beyond itself to forge connections with readers.
One of this anthology’s strengths lies in its diversity, both in the racial and socioeconomic backgrounds represented, and in the experiences depicted—some loving, others abusive. The strongest pieces are the most revealing: in Kiese Laymon’s essay about 'the harm and abuse I’ve inflicted on people who loved me,' he asks 'Why do I... want to lie?'—a question that resounds throughout this book ... the range of stories and styles represented in this collection makes for rich and rewarding reading.
Not all of these essays are about difficult relationships. Some of the writers look more deeply into their mothers’ lives because they love and admire them and want to understand them better ... Some of these essays are harrowing, some heartwarming, some — like a lot of mother-child relationships — a mix of both. All of them suggest, though, that if you can talk to your mother, you should.
Despite the centuries old and universal topic of the mother-child relationship, the dyad of all dyads, Michele Filgate’s anthology reminds us the subject never grows stale. Rather it is perfectly-flavored dressing atop the most flavorful edible garden ... The [opening] essay sets a framework for a profound read by 15 gifted writers, and yet it is also hard to live up to ... Filgate does an excellent job of curating a diverse range of writers to capture just about anyone’s attention.
In her introduction to the anthology, Filgate describes the hurt many feel when a mother-child relationship fall short of ideal, no small part of which comes from the pervasive assumption that a mother-child relationship's natural state is a happy one. This anthology—sometimes bracingly, sometimes humorously, and sometimes devastatingly—shows readers the falseness of that assumption ... No single anthology could encompass every variation of the relationship between mother and child, but What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About covers a multitude of permutations. The frank and intimate essays follow through on the book’s promise to combat the cultural myth of the ideal mother, the mold of which all human moms—no matter how competent, patient, and loving—must inevitably break.