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What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most
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What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  551 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Women look at the relationships between mothers and daughters through a new lens: a daughter's story of a gift from her mother that has touched her to the bone and served as a model, a metaphor, or a touchstone in her own life. The contributors of these thirty-one original pieces all written specifically for this book include Pulitzer Prize winners, perennial bestselling n ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Algonquin Books
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Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was a little nervous that What My Mother Gave Me would be a simplistic, feel-good collection of daughters' memories of their mothers, where every story is perfect and happy. I was relieved to discover that the book is much deeper and more authentic than that. This collection of essays portrays the beauty that can be found in a wide variety of mother-daughter relationships, whether the relationship was one that offered endless support and unconditional love, was terribly complicated and broken, ...more
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are few, if any, relationships more charged than that of a mother and daughter, and yet the essays in this wonderful anthology paint that complex picture by focussing on a single gift, experience, or habit of mind passed on from mother to daughter. There are both close and distant bonds portrayed in these essays, but all of them are moving and thought-provoking: an exercise in appraising our own relationships.
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"What My Mother Gave Me" is a collection of 31 essays written by different women.

Each one of them shares a precious memory about a special gift they got from their mothers. Some of them focus on the material side, while others prefer to address the lessons and advices they received during their lives. They all show how small things can change our lives forever and be great reminders of who we truly are.

The book is very emotional. In many moments, I felt like I should just stop reading and go hu
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
31 authors share a story about a gift they have received from their mother. All of the contributors are female, and the varying depictions of mother-daughter relationships are sometimes sweet, sometimes sad, but always deeply personal and meaningful. I really enjoyed reading this book in snatches here and there, and reflecting on my relationship with my own mother as well as my role as a mother (what would I want my son to write about me?). And of course the book causes you to reflect on what yo ...more
Jeffe Kennedy
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A really excellent, very solid collection of essays - and not at all what I expected. Each one focuses on something the woman writer received from her mother, but not all in sentimental ways. The relationships span the spectrum from close and loving to horribly dysfunctional. Some gifts are material, others not. Some gifts were intended, others not so much. The writers speak from a variety of ethnic, religious and social backgrounds. In the end, however, as all the best essay collections do - an ...more
Christa Baker
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I heard about this book from one of the lecturers at NYU Publishing Institute, and I immediately knew it'd be a great book to give as a gift to my mother. And I was very right. Before I gave it to her, I read almost the entire thing and many of the stories made me cry. It is full of wonderful stories about mother-child relationships, so my mom liked it just as much.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: essay, non-fiction, women
Essays from women writers about their mothers.
Meg - A Bookish Affair
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, non-fiction
I read this book just in time for Mother's Day and I actually passed on my copy of "What My Mother Gave Me" to my mom. This book is a collection of stories of what each author's mother gave her. Some gifts are tangible. Some are not. They vary from author to author. Some of the stories are happy and some of them are sad but I think that's sort of a normal reflection of the relationships that women have with their mothers. Whether happy or sad, the gifts that you get from your mother are incredib ...more
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I went to the library not knowing what book I was looking for and happened to see this one on the newly circulating shelf. It was approaching Mother's Day so I thought it would make for good intermittent reading. You know, those few minutes you have between drop off and the soccer game, or that bit of time between walking from the parking lot to work. Anyway, once I got started on these mother-daughter stories, I really began to enjoy the diverse perspectives that the authors brought to the tabl ...more
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Okay, Mother's Day gift this year? This book, accompanied by a letter telling your mom about a treasured something she gave you.

I'm not signing off on this collection of essays in its entirety, mind. No. Some of the essays are markedly weak, and one(about the author's clerical assistant stealing her mother's jewelry) was so weird, I had to stop reading the book for a while. But overall, the stories are interesting, heartfelt, and thought-provoking. I thought about what I had given my daughters,
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I know this must sound motbid, but I'd been thiking about the eventuality of my Mom's death, as she has Alzhiemer's and other health problem, and what I waned to remember about her and what I'd like to say at her funeral....whenever that may be. So, when I came across the title of this book somewhere, I knew I had to read it. I am SO glad I did.

This compilation of 31 essays written by noteworthy women (well-known authors and others) is very moving, as well as humorous, thought-provoking and wel
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Some of these mostly short essays feel dashed off, as if the author were finishing a dreaded assignment. Others, like Sheila Kohler, wrote prose as tight and interesting as her best fiction. Some took the topic literally, writing about a piece of furniture, jewellery or clothing. (Joyce Carol Oates wrote about knitted item she called a quilt that didn't reveal anything about her mother.) Others saw the opportunity to reflect on examples of how to behave, live or work. A mixed bag with some memor ...more
Kathleen Brunnett
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very cool idea to tap into noted female writers on what their mothers gave them. For some, it was a physical object, but for others it was an emotion or attitude or opportunity. I wish the background of these 31 writers was shared either before their entry or directly after it. Instead the information was listed at the back of the book in alphabetical order. Knowing their background up front would have made me appreciate or understand their story even more.
Jennifer King
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
These stories are told in each author's unique voice with a touching point about gifts their mothers gave them. But the stories as a whole are cohesive and flow seamlessly from one to the next. I think this would be a fantastic gift for all mothers, especially on Mother's Day.
Elizabeth Evans
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I didn't review the whole book, but I talked about one of the writers, Lillian Daniel, on my blog. I knew her mother and wrote about my memories of her -- at ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What My Mother Gave Me completely blew off all my windows and doors. It's not just that it made me think about the many things, tangible and intangible, that my mother (who has been gone now for 4+ years) gave me, although it did do that. It's that the voices of the writers who contributed to its pages made me think about the many and varied ways there are to be a woman. All of these writers, and certainly their many mothers, have lived rich and fascinating lives. Whether I felt kinship with the ...more
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What My Mother Gave Me, edited by Elizabeth Benedict, is a collection of essays by 31 women writers on “the gifts that mattered most.” Although this may seem well-traveled ground, each piece in this beautiful collection is unique and well written.

The gifts are wide-ranging in scope, from the most prosaic (nail polish) to the exceptional (the gift of writing). Their impact is deep and lovely, often unexpected for the receiver, and for the reader.

This is not a sentimental read: not all of these wo
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
I had to give What My Mother Gave Me five stars because I enjoyed it so much. In my eyes, it could not have been better. This book had many gifts for me, the reader.
First, this was just such a good read. The authors were pretty established, great authors. So the writing styles were so enjoyable. And they really let me see a little bit about their personal lives, which I loved. I learned so many little things in this book like to grate the onions before the potatos in latkes, that Lisa See's m
Jenni V.
Mar 27, 2013 rated it liked it

I would like to thank NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. The expected publication date for this book is April 2, 2013.

First, a little backstory. I've spent the past week packing up my childhood home (thankfully, this transition was due to downsizing and not death), giving my mom and I many opportunities to talk about the items she saved and the stories behind them. These conversations in turn inspired me
Pamela Barrett
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I spent a week weeping my way through Elizabeth Benedict’s compilation of stories aptly named What My Mother Gave Me. It was a good, cleansing weeping as the stories brought back memories of my own mother who passed away a few years ago; and just like in these stories some memories were sweet and some not so much.

The stories are told by 31 women writers who share the gifts their mothers’ gave them: ones that meant the most to them. These are not all physical gifts—all though some are—these are t
Literary Mama
Aug 19, 2013 added it
Shelves: essays
In her book’s introduction, Benedict writes about the panic she felt when she lost the scarf her mother had given to her: “If this one gift meant so much to me, if it unlocked the door to so much history and such complicated feelings, might other women have such a gift themselves?” That question inspired What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most, which features 31 short essays by an accomplished list of female writers, including Roxana Robinson, Ann Hood, Lisa See, ...more
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you had to sum up one special gift given to you by your mother, something that mattered most and made a difference in your life, what would it be?

Author Elizabeth Benedict asked the question of thirty-one women who happen to be celebrated novelists, broadcast journalists, Pulitzer Prize recipients. Their essays in the telling are as varied and unique as the gifts received, as the relationships described.

Certainly at the back of my mind as the stories unfolded was the question, what gift did m
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Karen Karbo's, White Gloves and Party Manners is one of my favorite chapters. Also, Elizabeth Benedict's story about her flowered scarf and Charlotte Silver's story about her mother the restauranteur. There is even a recipe at the end of that chapter. The collection of stories, all written by accomplished writers and authors is a great book for mothers and daughters everywhere and a great way to identify talented female writers. The editor Elizabeth Benedict has inspired daughters to see gifts f ...more
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm really close with my mom, so when I saw this book, I was immediately intrigued. Some of the stories were really moving, and some were less so. It was interesting to see what these women considered gifts and how the relationships between women differed.
Terry Lucas
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
My first book of the year and what a pleasure!
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking diverse essays about influence of mother in our lives.
May 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Some of the stories are quite moving. I teach a course for mother's of adult daughters. I think samplings from this book would be very enlightening to use in my class for discussion purposes.
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Every female reader will no doubt hear the notes of her own story played somewhere in the book.
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a good read. These writers are writing from a secular world view. While I do not agree with all of their views, I appreciated their stories.
Elaine Bearden
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Full disclosure - I didn't read all of the stories, but the stories (true) that the writers shared were really interesting, filled with concrete details from their lives. Really lovely.
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Elizabeth Benedict is bestselling novelist, journalist, editor, writing coach, and teacher of creative writing. She's the author of five novels and of THE JOY OF WRITING SEX: A GUIDE FOR FICTION WRITERS, and editor of three anthologies: the just published ME, MY HAIR AND I: 27 WOMEN UNTANGLE AN OBSESSION, the NYTIMES bestseller, WHAT MY MOTHER GAVE ME: 31 WOMEN ON THE GIFTS THAT MATTERED MOST and ...more

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