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For You Mom, Finally

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  682 ratings  ·  129 reviews

Bestselling author Ruth Reichl examines her mother's life-and gives voice to the unarticulated truths of a generation of exceptional women

A former New York Times restaurant critic, editor in chief of Gourmet, and the author of three bestselling memoirs, Ruth Reichl is a beloved cultural figure in the food world and beyond. For You, Mom. Finally. is her openhearted inves
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Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Penguin Books (first published 2010)
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Judy
Ruth Reichl only begins to understand the true story of her mother's life years after her death when she opens a box filled with her mother's "diaries" and letters that had been stored in a basement. While her first book, Tender at the Bone, contained some funny and not so funny stories about her mother, who apparently was manic-depressive, in this book, Reichl comes to understand the origins of much of her mother's anxiety and depression. Reichl points out the universal truth that children see ...more
Patricia
Short, even slight book about an accomplished woman who learns about the dimensions of her mother's life -- after her mother is dead, of course.

It seems probable that Miriam had something on the bipolar spectrum, although this isn't clear. What is clear is that she embarrassed her children and caused them other pains to the point that they each basically seemed to have limited their contact with her in order to protect themselves.

What changes Reichl's view of her mother is a box of letters and
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Michelle
I picked up this book and read the first few pages while waiting for Mateo to choose a new "techie" book at Borders. I was pretty intrigued, so I bought it.

Lately I've been intersted in books that explore the ways in which our parents choices impacted us, and how, in turn, our choices will impact our children, and this book delves into that complicated subject.

I liked this book because it walked through the trails and emotions of not only one generation of women before mine, but the one before
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Terri
This book starts with a bang as Ruth's mother concocts a most disgusting snack of moldy chocolate pudding, old, hard marshmallows and canned peaches for Ruth's Girl Scout troop. I settled in for more.

Ruth's mother, Miriam, was told in clear print in a letter written to her by her father that although she was smart, she was homely and the odds of catching a husband were going to be slim but that should be her goal in life. With that encouragement, Miriam marries and two years later is divorced.

Li
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Susanhayeshotmail.com
Very slender volume examining changing roles of women with some flinch worthy considerations of our incomplete understanding of our parents, the judgements we make about them from our personal time and space in history. I've given a lot of thought and even some study to how our parents lives, their choices and experiences inform our own and found myself wondering what unspoken and even unconsidered agendas we thrust upon our children. We have things we know we want our kids to learn from us, thi ...more
Patrice
I love Ruth Reichl and everything she writes. This is a very personal look at her mother and I think any daughter will be able to relate on some level. She makes some strong points about how to live a happy life, derived from her mother's very unhappy life.
However, I think she's a little too politically correct in her views. I don't agree with her conclusions that the answer lies in having a demanding career and having others raise your children. Sometimes being a grown-up means thinking of othe
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Karen
I really liked examining what Reichl set out to examine in this book- the changing roles of women between her mother's generation and her own. What I didn't like was how short the book was. With an introduction explaining how important it was to her to write a book examining her mother's life, and an afterward talking about the same thing, you would have thought she'd have found more to write about than this skinny book. But it was a conversation-starter for me to think about and discuss the opp ...more
Angela Usas
I am going through a change in my relationship with my mother. I have been doing Stress Release Sessions (they are AMAZING!!) and my mom comes up as a regular stressor in my life. In one of my sessions, Tina, the de-stressor, said that I might start to feel differently about my mom if I understood her childhood; where she comes from. Since then I've been more curious, more reflective and more open to learning.
This book gave me lots to think about. I liked the discussion questions at the end and
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Ruth
I had only read the first two volumes of Reichl's memoir. The first one struck me as very harsh on her mentally-ill mother. In this very short book, Reichl describes reading her mother's letters and papers, and finally coming to understand her. It is so sad that this intelligent, talented person who wanted nothing more than to be generous with other people was thwarted to the extent that Reichl's mom was. The book was originally entitled Not Becoming My Mother--but the explicit message of the bo ...more
Shannan
I had/am having a slightly difficult time processing this book. Luckily it is short, very short - like you could read it in two hours short.
Here's my thought process as I finish this book. It brings up the age old feminist tale of "don't make me stay in the kitchen, I want a career dammit!" Problem is, what about those woman, much like myself, who chose a career 'in the kitchen' so to speak. This story that Ruth Reichl and her mother tell us is one that insists you are far more than your looks,
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Kathy Halsan
Reichl has written several books and they are quite good. Her Mother is frequently in the books as a kind of quirky mother/housewife of the 50s. I saw it my mother as did many of you of my age. Our mothers had no choice, but to be housewives and they were bred to tears. Thank goodness for the "Women's Movement" which now allows a choice for women. The story of Ruth'd mother is definitely worth a read.
Antonia
Immensely thought provoking. It shows how you dont need pages and pages of text to evoke the most complex of emotions and personal relationships. One to repeat reading again and again from time to time.
agnes barton-sabo
I'm a Ruth Reichl fan for the most part but this did nothing for me! I did not see the point of it being a book... An essay for later collection perhaps. I don't agree that it was an "openhearted investigation," there was not much investigating done. It was a quick show & tell of some letters and a few brief memories, not much was taken to higher, thoughtful levels, and I didn't find it revealed much of anything we didn't already hear of her mother from her other books. The points it SUPPOSE ...more
Billie Criswell
I read this book in two hours with stuff going on in between. It's an easy read, but it's somehow also more personal than some of Ruth's other books. It's about the most fundamental relationship a female can have in this world: the one with her mother. Although, for Ruth, this relationship is more complicated than some might have.

I enjoyed the book, start to finish, just as I have with all of Ruth's books. I liked her mother much more in this book than I had in past books, but I should also say
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Kim
While it is interesting to contemplate parenting styles, generational differences, and basic human nature, I don't enjoy someone musing that mental illness such as bipolar disorder could be a result of idleness. Having no purpose and finding no joy in life can exacerbate and certainly doesn't help but being bored does not create mental illness.

Nevertheless, quotes that stuck --
"Your marriage must be a vow to encourage each other to realize his own best qualities. You believe that you have found
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Bonnie
I could have really loved this book, but I didn't. The premise--unearthing through letters, journals, and other clues written down, the person our mother was when we were busy paying attention pretty much just to the person we were or were becoming--is a great theme for a book. Most want to understand our parents better, to have known who they were and what they were like in a different time than we knew them. To have known what they were like when they were the same age that we were at that mom ...more
Jessica
My mom sent me this book so I figured it must be inspirational about being a great mom. So, I set out to read it and the tone is of complaining about one's own mother and the goofy things she did. The gist of the book is that the author's mother never wanted to be a mother, she wanted to be a doctor and didn't pursue her own dreams so her life was wrecked over it and she eventually went kind of crazy from the monotony of being a "housewife." The daughter gleaned the important message from her mo ...more
Michele Hane
I really enjoyed this book. It is really short. The mom in the book was really complex. I took a lot away from reading this book. One of the things it struggles with is doing what society expects you do not matter how that makes you feel. As a stay-at-home mom who really likes having a career and feels like I can't things right, it helped me have perspective. Highly recommend reading it to help think about how to understand other people in general.
Alissa
A short book (110 pages) about writer Ruth Reichl coming to terms with her mother & their relationship. Best for those who have already read her earlier memoirs, particularly Tender at the Bone, to give better context and background for this one. Still, interesting insight and perspective on how parental expectations and their own life experiences shapes who you become. A quick read that provides a nice ending for those who have read all of reichl's other books.
Alesia
I'm a big fan of Ruth Reichl's other books; Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires. However, if you've read those books you really don't gain a lot more about her mother than you already have, and yet, if you've not read those books then you're not ready for this one. It's a catch 22. Not to say that I didn't enjoy it at all, just would have been nice if it dug a little deeper, as this book was supremely short to my disappointment. For You Mom, Finally was originall ...more
Alison
“This book written from the Authors memories and notes and letter she found of her Mom's, it gives us insight into Miriam Reichl's life as a woman frustrated with what was expected of her. It made me think about my Mom and what I saw as her life and what I read later about how she felt. It also makes me question my own role as a mother.”
Julie Ekkers
Ruth Reichl's mother's foibles are well covered in some of Reichl's other books, notably Tender at the Bone. This book attempts to balance out that portrait. I appreciated the author's attempt to see her mother as something other than a mother--i.e. as a woman with ambitions that were stymied by the times, and the extent to which the thwarting of these ambitions perhaps contributed to her mother's demons and flaws. Still, I couldn’t help but feel that there was more to it than just an accident o ...more
Julia
This is a very short book. If this is the only thing you've ever read by Reichl, you're missing an enormous amount of the backstory in how complicated her relationship was with her mother. Having read Reichl's other books (recommended), this is really touching. So few people get the chance to see more deeply into the motivations of their parents. Reichl reflects on her mom's life with tenderness and poignancy. She has the wherewithal to understand that having this knowledge while her mother was ...more
Jo
Didn't enjoy this very much. While I completely understand that her mother's life was not what she wanted it to be - and that can be devastating, I think there are plenty of women of her generation who made the best of what they had and helped their daughters get more out of life in theirs. I don't know whether it was the way the author portrayed the mother, or just the things she did, but I found it very hard to be sympathetic of her plight. I also was a little frustrated by the author who didn ...more
Heidi
I really like this book. It was a very quick read as I basically finished it in an afternoon. Ruth has been writing books about the horrible cook her mom was and well, was feeling a bit guilty about showing her mom in such an unflattering spotlight. After coming across a box of old letters and notes her mom wrote she came to truly understand the struggles her mom had and that her mom really was doing her best to make things better for Ruth.

I found the book interesting as it spoke to the last fe
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Kelsey
A quick read that I didn't hate or like. It was just okay. There were two ways to really take this book. The first is as a story about a woman finally discovering her mother. I get why this would appeal to many people, but it didn't speak to me. I've always had a good relationship with my mother and I feel like I've come to know her bit by bit as I've matured. The second way is (as a reviewer on the back of the book put it) as "a feminist manifesto" which I hated. Okay, so I guess there is a thi ...more
Marie
I enjoyed Ruth Reichl's portrayal of her mother in Tender at the Bone. I felt it was more honest. This very short book seemed to be an opportunity to explain the reasons for her mother's behavior. She showed her as a woman of her time, bereft of the opportunities that women of following generations have. Although this is true, it was still her mother's choice to be miserable. I think Ruth Reichl did her mother a disservice by making her into an almost pathetic character. Surely that was not true ...more
Kathy
Such a fast read. (About 120 pages or so, but not full pages) Having met Ms. Reichl on Wed, 5/4/11, all of her books have more meaning. I have such a wider understanding of where she was personally when writing each book. What a joy to meet and speak with such an icon in the food industry. She wrote this book as a 'thank you' to her mother. She thought doing it while she was alive would have damaged their relationship. Although not that kind of a 'tell-all' or anything like that, it was the ackn ...more
Sarahjessica
I wonder when I will stop wanting to read other people's memoirs of loss? Maybe never. I picked this up a short while ago and positively tore through it. It is going to go alongside Joan Didion's year of magical thinking as one of my favorite pieces on grief, even though this book is as much about her mother's life as it is about the author-daughter's grief. The prism of found letters allows Reichl to understand facets of her mother she never knew existed. Even if you don't have letters or other ...more
Sue
Very quick read about a very complex subject: mother- daughter relationships. Poignant, thoughtful .. Left me contemplating how sad it is that appreciation is often seen in retrospect.
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Ruth Reichl is an American food writer, the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and culinary editor for the Modern Library.
Born to parents Ernst and Miriam (née Brudno), she was raised in New York City and spent time at a boarding school in Montreal. She attended the University of Michigan, where she met her first husband, the artist Douglas Hollis. She graduated in 1970 with a M.A. in art history
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More about Ruth Reichl...
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table The Gourmet Cookbook: More than 1000 recipes Delicious!

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“Go ahead into life, full-blooded, courageous and leap for the adventure. But you must do it soon—before the summer of your youth has cooled off into caution. You are magnificently charming—and you come like a torrent. But you will be spent on the futility of little things. You are not a watercolor. You are carved out of life—and there can be no petty hesitancies about you.” 3 likes
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