Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother” as Want to Read:
If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  1,034 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
Saturday Night Live veteran Julia Sweeney’s “endearing series of true tales from parenthood’s front lines” (O, The Oprah Magazine) is a funny, smart tour de force that reads like a conversation with your best friend.

In these candidly witty and poignant essays, comedienne and writer Julia Sweeney muses on the complex blessings of motherhood: deciding to adopt her daughter,
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published April 2nd 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 15, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
First, I would like to say thank you to the author and to Goodreads for my A.R.C. edition of "If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother" which I received through the Goodreads First-Reads giveaways.

I must say I had no idea what to expect when I picked up "If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother" and had decided to begin reading it (was even preparing myself to be highly bored and disappointed). Goodness was I in for a big surprise! I absolutely loved it! Not only because it is nothing like anythin
Mar 05, 2013 Ana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, comedy, library
I wanted to like this a lot. I've always enjoyed Julia Sweeney's work on SNL and thought this would be right up my alley.
But the whole thing felt a bit disconnected, even worse considering that it's set up as if it was all written within a month or so, rather than a collection of essays published elsewhere and gathered for this book.

There were a couple of really jarring inclusions, like the quasi-interview with her mother-in-law about abortion. I didn't have a problem with the story, it was actu
Jun 10, 2013 Agatha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Author is the “It’s Pat” androgynous character from SNL.) I picked up this book b/c I heard Scott Simon (father of two adopted girls form China) interview her on NPR one Saturday morning and I learned it was about her 12-year-old daughter from China. It was funny and entertaining, and a lot of things about her experience becoming an adoptive mother struck a familiar chord in me ( am also a mom by adoption). Furthermore, I identified with her Irish-Catholic upbringing as the oldest daughter in a ...more
Mar 29, 2013 Kenzee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
*I won this book in a GoodReads First Reads giveaway*

First off to be fair, I'd say this book was more like 3.5 stars. It was good, but not great. Sweeney does a great job in making her writing seem conversational and I thought the way she referred to all her ex-boyfriends as Joe 1 through 12 (give or take a few) was hysterical. That being said there were certain things she wrote about that I found irritating and judgmental (as I sit here and judge her judgments). Overall though, it was a quick p
Mar 11, 2013 paula rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This sure didn't do it for me. It wasn't funny or interesting, and I could only get halfway through it. I get that it was an adventure to adopt her daughter, but other than that, Sweeney's life is just not that interesting, while she is seemingly under the impression that everything she does and thinks is just fascinating. I also really tired about reading of the string of "Joes" that she had no problem letting her daughter get familiar with and attached to.
Ashlee Tominey
Feb 28, 2016 Ashlee Tominey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Sweeney's take on motherhood and family coupled with humor yet a fair amount of poignancy.
Aug 05, 2013 Ruth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was mildly amusing, but overall pretty weak.

If you can get by the stupid title, you might enjoy the gentle array of essays, about, of course, being a mother. To Ms. Sweeney’s credit, she is not the least bit braggy about her child, and she seems to be a pretty cool mother.

She does have some idiotic points of view (as most parents seem to), such as not telling her kid about Santa. When her girl is about four, Ms. Sweeney figures why be such a downer, and decides to do Xmas. Funnily, t
Feb 09, 2013 Monika rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It didn't take long to read "If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother." Sweeney has an easy, conversational way of writing. It feels like sitting down for coffee with an interesting person, listening to them share all of their best stories. I could relate to her struggles to become a mother, and to a lot of the changes in thinking she experienced after becoming a mother: seeing our culture differently, wanting to be fully present to her daughter.

I have to admit, I was slightly irritated by the ch
Stacey Schubert
I really liked this book (3 from me = really like!) but it isn't something that's going to stick with me in the long run. I enjoyed the voice, and I laughed out loud a lot, but ultimately I couldn't relate to Julia Sweeney. Although I am also single in middle age, I guess that's where the similarities end and I could not connect with her experience. Definitely not universal! I was especially agog at her child rearing story. I kept thinking how damn easy she had it, and how there would be no stor ...more
Of her three books, I think I liked this one best, and would suggest starting here if you've never read any of them.

Sweeney's strength is that, though she's been a Hollywood success, she's someone who's easy to identify with - I'm not a child person at all, finding her story of deciding to adopt, going through the process, raising a Chinese child, and then having to work at forming a family after later marrying. I will say I was tempted to believe that she exaggerated some of Mulan's scenes, but
Jennifer Gibbons
I was lucky to get this through NetGalley, and enjoyed it. Julia Sweeney gets a gift from Heaven: A month off from her husband and preteen daughter. She loves them, but a month to write? Heaven! It picks up where God Says Ha left off: the relationship with "Carl" ends; she ends up going to China and adopting; meeting a new man and moving to a new state; and finding out that motherhood is an adventure, yet a worthwhile one. The most moving parts of the new memoir is the the death of a brother and ...more
Apr 30, 2014 Tracy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
I picked up this book to read on a pleasant day, sitting outside. I should have been doing about 50 different things, but I like Julia Sweeney and I just wanted to read and enjoy the day. Instead, I ended up annoyed - annoyed that these random thoughts, with no craftmanship or editing, were packaged into a book and sold. Annoyed that, by my reading, I was telling Julia Sweeney that it was ok to slap together a book of random thoughts, that people will buy it. Annoyed that Julia Sweeney doesn't h ...more
Apr 17, 2014 Lori rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction, humor
I have seen a couple of Julia Sweeney's specials on cable and found her very amusing. This book is part memoir, part humor. some of the book has some more serious chapters such as the death of her brother.she gives tidbits of her life. she adopted a girl from China who was almost 13 now as of the writing of this book. Julia Sweeney wrote about motherhood with her daughter "Mulan" such as preschool, grammar school. and just raising a kid in general. one chapter was about her former boyfriends tha ...more
Jenni V.
Apr 03, 2013 Jenni V. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

4.5 stars. Julia is a natural storyteller, and this book was an absolute delight to read. I would describe this book as deeply funny - the perfect blend of depth and humor. Although her stories were light enough to read quickly (and I did; this book was completed in one sitting), they were also revealing, personal, and touching. Highly recommended.

Note: I would like to thank NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read this book.
Ayelet Waldman
Feb 21, 2013 Ayelet Waldman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious. I want her to be my BFF.
2.5 stars
Apr 13, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Very funny.
Joshua Gross
This was one of the stranger memoirs I've read as it is quieter and more subtle in style, seemed both very organized and disorganized at the same time, and was the rare memoir I didn't listen to on audiobook. I prefer audiobooks for memoirs because they're almost always read by the author, but this one I just couldn't find anywhere easy on audio and was just sitting there at the library. There were many hilarious moments in the book, particularly her memories of adopting her daughter in China an ...more
Dec 04, 2016 Clint rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoir of sorts by the former "Saturday Night Live" cast member, she writes during a month's absence of her husband and her adopted daughter of her saga as a daughter, wife and mother. There are some funny lines, a couple of really well-done chapters (on meeting, dating and marrying her husband, and on the death of her alcoholic brother) and evidence of the mind of a typical Hollywood celeb (because she had a problem with a neighbor regarding dogs, the evil neighbor naturally was a Republican an ...more
Feb 02, 2017 Marjie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick, funny, smart read by former SNL-er Julia Sweeney. I think part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was she lives in my town (and mentions it several times in the book) and actually attended my book club meeting! I wonder who her nemesis at the dog beach really is?!
Oct 04, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny, light book. Worth my time
Jul 01, 2013 Meg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: funny
Hmm. I enjoyed this book quite a bit but found it wildly erratic in tone, style, and content. The tone ranged from serious and emotional to straight narrative/ informative to extremely funny. In theory this seems kind of cool to me - after all, that's how life is, right? - but in practice it just felt confusing. There were some hilarious pieces about parenting (the "birds and the bees" part still made me laugh hysterically despite having watched the video of Sweeney reading it a gazillion times) ...more
Jul 06, 2013 Carin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Julia Sweeney, while one of the funniest cast members ever of SNL in my opinion, always struck me as deeper and more real than some of her fellow funny-men. I particularly was intrigued by her guest star role on an episode of Sex and the City where she played a nun with cancer, who was sitting next to Samantha at a doctor's office day after day, trying to get in to see a superb specialist. I'd heard that her monologues were great and wished I lived in a city where I could go see them. She was al ...more
Jan 10, 2014 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This audiobook was so bad. Just.... painfully bad.

My judgement of it was very much colored by two books I've read in the past about international adoption, The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce and Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption edited by Jane Jeong Trenka and Julia Chinyere Oparah.

Watching Sweeney bumble with the exact white privilege that these two other books document as being harmful to internationally adopted children w
Carrie Ardoin
I was very much looking forward to reading a memoir by a former cast member of Saturday Night Live. I figured if the stories weren't very interesting, at least they would be funny. It turns out I was not correct on either assumption: the stories Julia Sweeney tells in this book are barely interesting, and not funny at all.

As the book begins, Julia explains the format. Her tales are divided into four sections, which correspond with four weeks during which Julia is alone, her husband and daughter
Apr 03, 2013 Shani rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always loved Julia Sweeny’s character on SNL (Pat!) so when I read that she had a book, with a hilarious title, I was hooked. I was surprised to find something that was so emotional! The book traces four weeks in her life as she writes her book about her life, from adopting her daughter Mulan, to serial dating that eventually lead to marrying her husband Michael, to raising her daughter and losing a brother. Her writing was sharp, thoughtful, and witty.

“My rage bubbled up recently…a mother wi
Sep 01, 2013 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book as a Mother's Day gift, and it does seem to be the perfect read for contemporary parents. This is mostly about parenting -- Sweeney has one daughter, called Mulan, whom she adopted from China when the girl was 17 months old -- yet also about family in general.

The conceit of the book is that her daughter and her husband, whom she met, in a very funny way, after she had already adopted Mulan, are away for a month, and Sweeney has all the time to herself. So, she writes. The autobio
Feb 02, 2015 Dianna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really, really wanted to give this book a 5-star rating. Julia Sweeney is funny, smart, and until the chapters on abortion and her nemesis, I wanted her to be my new best friend. The chapter on abortion left me cold, seriously angry, and I almost didn't finish the book. As I was reading it, I literally yelled out loud, "You are so selfish!" And maybe that's not fair, but it's how I felt. I miscarried a child and believe that each pregnancy is a gift, a promise of a life, and I cannot even begi ...more
The Reading Countess
I enjoyed the conversational tone of Julia Sweeney's memoir. Assuming a "girlfriend-like" voice kept the flow moving and easy to read. Memoir is a particular favorite of mine, and this one didn't disappoint. At times funny, at times poignant, I walked away from IF It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother with a deeper appreciation for life...and isn't that the point of a well-written memoir?

In particular, I admired how Julia decided to adopt a child as a single woman after being unable to bear one o
Lenny Husen
This is probably a 3.25 but I rounded down, just because I was so bored. There are a couple of poignant parts, such as the part her mother-in-law contributed, and a death in Julia's family, but other than that, it was dull. Julia comes across as extremely like-able but extremely self-aborbed. And I'm sorry, but Mulan is insufferable. She comes across as bright and very spoiled. And while Julia is not "braggy" overtly there was a lot of self-satisfaction and a benign, sweet narcissism in her essa ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Breeding in Captivity: One Woman's Unusual Path to Motherhood
  • Instant Mom
  • Found
  • The Satirist: America's Most Critical Book (vol. 1)
  • There Is No Mrs. Gezunterman
  • All The Wild Children: A noir memoir
  • My Happy Days in Hollywood: A Memoir
  • The Real Verdict: My Quest for the Freedom I Never Had
  • Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives
  • Mission of the Messiah: On the Gospel of Luke
  • China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood
  • a beautiful mess
  • Finding Kansas: Decoding the Enigma of Asperger's Syndrome
  • Two Little Girls: A Memoir of Adoption
  • The Blessed Woman: Learning About Grace from the Women of the Bible
  • My Greek Drama: Life, Love, and One Woman's Olympic Effort to Bring Glory to Her Country
  • Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story
  • Finding God in the Dark: Faith, Disappointment, and the Struggle to Believe
Julia Sweeney is an American actress, comedian and author best known for her Saturday Night Live career and autobiographical solo shows.
More about Julia Sweeney...

Share This Book

“I learned that being a mother takes a lot of energy.” 1 likes
More quotes…