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What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  567 ratings  ·  99 reviews
*Most Anticipated Reads of 2019 Selection by Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, The Rumpus, Lit Hub, The Week, and*

Fifteen brilliant writers explore what we don’t talk to our mothers about, and how it affects us, for better or for worse.

As an undergraduate, Michele Filgate started writing an essay about being abused by her stepfather. It took her more than a decade to r
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 30th 2019 by Simon Schuster
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3.80  · 
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 ·  567 ratings  ·  99 reviews

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Vivek Tejuja
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Relationships are complex. Most relationships are not easy to navigate around. I think the one we share with our parents is most difficult. I have always had a problem expressing what I feel to my parents. I think it just stemmed from the fact that we do not speak enough or try to make ourselves heard enough. This has nothing to do with love not being there, or not being brought up in a healthy environment (at least in my case). It is just that we have not learned how to communicate with them. P ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
These essays are varied in style and subject matter, but that is fitting since we all have different relationships with our mothers. I really noticed the recurring theme of setting boundaries as adults, and the damaging power of denial and silence. They made me very reflective - for instance I realized the expectations I had for how my mother would change after my father's death were completely wrong, and I have yet to adjust to the reality.

I had previously read the Kiese Laymon essay (I think i
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-review
A very solid collection of essays from a diverse selection of writers about the things they don’t talk to their mothers about: family history, abuse, love, protection, secrets, first husbands, expectations. Particularly poignant essays are from Alexander Chee and Brandon Taylor (the last few pages of Brandon’s gutted me, not because it’s graphic or horrible, but because it’s a wish to have understood his mom and who he knew her to be).
Our mothers are our first homes, and that’s why we’re always trying to return to them. To know what it was like to have one place where we belonged. Where we fit.

In What My Mother And I Don't Talk About we read essays from fifteen writers about their relationships with their moms and what they don't talk about. This book was such an interesting read for me. It made me feel like I am not the only person who feels like they don't know their mother or don't talk to their mother about certain th
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Every essay in here - and so many great writers! - was thought-provoking and brought something new to the table. I loved how different the essays were and the richness of the collection.
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
This collection of essays is human, vulnerable, and at times cathartic. It is uneven at times, but highlights unique literary voices and encourages self reflection and forgiveness.

It is not really what I thought it would be - and with so many voices, there were obviously some essays that stand out as higher quality, that resonated more with me and made a more lasting impression. I was pleasantly surprised to see the diversity - in gender, ethnicity, economic background, life trauma experiences,
Bridgit Morgan
May 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
This collection of essays was unfortunately a bit lackluster for me.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Oh, wow. This collection of short stories is just one punch to the next and it's amazing.

For some reason, I had thought this was a collection about daughters speaking with their mothers but it ISN'T. These are people of a large variety of races, sexual orientations, and genders speaking not only to their mothers, but to their underlying family dynamic as a whole. The stories are so rich and have so many different perspectives and relationships and all are beautifully analyzed.

This book gave me
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
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I finished this collection up last week. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I find reading almost anything about Motherhood and Mother-Child relationships so facinating! I loved how these essays showcased all different relationships with Mothers. The cause and effect of the things we dont speak of. From traumas, addictions, shame, to decisions mother make or don't to fathers to our mothers own lives. It was a very well edited collection. It ma
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really good essay collection. I'll need to buy it in print at some point. I think listening to this essay collection took away some of my enjoyment, as I was distracted by the reader's voice. The authors of these essays laid themselves bare, and I didn't realize I would question my own mothering more than I would question my relationship with my own mom.
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent essay collection featuring great talent. It really made me consider my relationships with my own parents.
Shannon Perri
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“There is relief in breaking the silence. This is also how we grow. Acknowledging what we couldn’t say for so long, for whatever reason, is a way to heal our relationships with others and perhaps most important, with ourselves,” says Michele Filgate in the intro of her fantastic new curated essay collection, WHAT MY MOTHER AND I DON’T TALK ABOUT. I couldn’t stop reading—**Everyone** should read this book. As I get closer to entering motherhood by the day, I absolutely lived for these meditations ...more
Deirdre Sugiuchi
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This collection is amazing. Highly recommended!
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
As with many essay collections, there are some hits and some misses, but even the "misses" were relatable in some ways.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
These are some intense essays. I responded to some more than others, but they all latch onto a live wire. Good writing, moving, and engaging. Nice stuff.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this.

A tremendous, bright, beautiful list of contributors all telling such complex, thoughtful stories about their mothers.

Made my brain whir about my own mom, the stories she has to tell, and the stories I choose to tell myself about her.

Seriously glorious. Read it.
Erin Khar
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This anthology of phenomenal essays blew my socks off. Each essay contains its own universe of the love and pain and complexity of mothers. A must read.
Audrey Laurey
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some stories and voices are better than others, but definitely worth a read regardless of one's gender, sexual preference, ethnic background, etc. I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed it.
Sophie Rayton
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Difficult but important topics discussed. There's so much in life that keep us from being honest and authentic, this book explores what it is to be both those things and more.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beginning with the title essay, this is a powerful and candid collection on a universal theme, showing the scope of mother-daughter relationships and their impact.
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent. My favorites were Mother Tongue by Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body/My Body by Nayomi Munaweera, I Met Fear on the Hill by Leslie Jamison, and Are You Listening? by Andre Aciman.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Each story was so different as the writers discussed their relationships with their mothers. In many ways, the fact that the writers write for a living was irrelevent, except that they told their stories beautifully. So many kinds of mother child relationships in the world.
Mothers. At least for an instant, everyone has one. No mother is perfect, but some know how to mother more than others.

Sometimes a mother-child relationship is a bitch. Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes bitter-sweet.

But it’s always complicated.

In the essay collection What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About: Fifteen Readers Break the Silence (Simon & Schuster), edited by Michele Filgate, fifteen writers share their personal stories about the complexity of their relationships with their mother
May 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
sometimes reading things that are way out of my comfort zone stretch and encourage me while opening my eyes to the bigger world. This is not one of those books.
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I find stories about motherhood so intriguing, like cult stories. It is true that relationships between mothers and daughters are often based on what is not said, what decisions are not made, what is left up in the air. That’s why I picked this collection of essays to read. Unfortunately, only a few are striking and memorable.
Anne Logan
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With thoughts of Mother’s Day no doubt swirling around in everyone’s minds this weekend, I thought I’d post a review of a book of 15 essays about motherhood. What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, Fifteen Writers Break the Silence are all fairly short pieces written by authors about their mothers. They range from the quirky to the downright depressing which will come as no surprise to anyone, because as we all know, there is no ‘one kind of mother’. Despite their differences in tone, each essay ...more
It's always given me a little thrill when, as an adult, I've confessed things to my mother that I did as a kid that she was completely oblivious to. There are really no consequences at this point: no possibility of being grounded, of losing the phone or of not being able to hang out with my friends. But there are still plenty of things that I wouldn't tell my mother about in a million years. It's not for fear of teenage consequences at this point, it's just that mother/child relationships can be ...more
Daven Ralston
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is beautiful and intimate and left me awestruck. I think when I picked the book up I initially believed it would be a book with eccentric and quirky stories about things children don’t tell their mothers, some maybe heartbreaking and other embarrassing or joyful and funny, but this definitely was a much deeper and more intimate look at the role of the mother through first person perspectives of their children in their experiences of trauma, loss, love, and survival. It was riveting and ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This collection of fifteen essays is a little uneven, but maybe each of us sees in it what applies most to our own experience. I leaned more toward the essays written by writers I already enjoy -- Filgate's eponymous essay, Melissa Febos' "Thesmophoria," Carmen Maria Machado's "Mother Tongue" -- and to strong essays that further illuminate work by authors whose other work I've read -- Alexander Chee's "Xanadu," Keise Laymon's "While These Things/Feel American To Me."

And as a writer, I admired L
Madeline Fox
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
After reading Danielle Kurtzleben's review for NPR (, I figured this might be a good pre-Mother's Day read for me.
My relationship with my mom doesn't lend itself easily to the kind of outpouring of love and gratitude and cards and gifts and social media posts that proliferate this time of year. And there are a lot of things my mother and I don't talk about.
The essays in this collection are deeply personal, whether the writer has had a terrible, wonderful
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