Laura's Reviews > Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
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Aug 12, 12

bookshelves: pleasure-reading
Read in August, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I did not enjoy this nearly as much as Fun Home (but wow, I'm not as harsh as the NYT critic!). I was glad that I took the time to re-read Fun Home before diving into this one, because it helped remind me of what I liked about her authorial voice, and the relationship with her father, before we start to dissect the relationship with her mother. I think I came away from Fun Home with a sense that she really loved her father and that they had a pretty understanding relationship, if not particularly close or expressive. And I think I came away from that book feeling that she may have been a little unfair to her mother, in painting her mother to be so distant and cold. I can't say her mother really fares much better in AYMM, but I also don't think she does nearly as well at developing an understanding of her mother, or her relationship with her mother. It doesn't help that the action is layered with pages and pages of undigested pedagogy, mostly extracted from psychanalytic texts (Freud, Winnicot, Miller), and Virginia Woolf. The book sort of plods along, exploring different facets of the archeypal mother-daughter relationship, and only occasionally zooms in on her and her mother, making it hard to understand how their relationship has evolved. The final chapter seems to accelerate, and she gets to a place where she can express her love, admiration, and respect for her mother more freely ... but because it's layered in with all of this psychoanalysis, it ends up feeling really forced.
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