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Floating in My Mother's Palm

(Burgdorf Cycle #2)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,886 ratings  ·  230 reviews
From the award-winning author of Intrusions comes a beautiful, lyrical novel about the scars of postwar Germany and a child's quest to transcend those scars by using the healing powers of affirmation and faith.
Hardcover, 187 pages
Published March 15th 1990 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1990)
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3.82  · 
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 ·  2,886 ratings  ·  230 reviews

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Hegi's Stones from the River is one of those read books whose memory is caught in the mists between pre-GR and post-reviewing, when literary enjoyment was a hobby and any career other than engineering a pipe dream. Like many books I loved before my understanding of them began to yearn towards holism, I will eventually return and pull from it some sense of origin, grounding the sensibilities of a younger self in the analytic soil of an older. I will not indulge in lazy disdain and withering remar ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is the first published book in Ursula Hegi's "Burgdorf Cycle". I haven't heard the term "cycle" applied to books before, but it certainly makes more sense in this context than does the term series. The events in this book take place after her more well-known Stones from the River.

I would characterize this as more a collection of stories with the narrator and setting the same throughout. Hanna Malter is a young girl who tells of her life and town following WWII when she is perhaps between th
Linda Lipko
May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Profoundly insightful, incredibly haunting, both heartbreakingly sad and heartwarmingly charming, lyrical and poetic in dealing with some very difficult life experiences, this book is destined to be one of my top reads of 2011.

In small town post WWII, 1950's Burgdorf Germany, pre-teen Trudy Malter provides insights into colorful characters, rich in history and life experience.

Possessing the soul of her artistic, carefree mother, and the kind, gentleness of her father, Trudy listens to the stor
Jul 02, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reviewers felt that this book could be read as a sequel to "Stones From the River" (which is one of my all-time favorite books). However, it read more like a series of short stories than an actual novel. Because of this, I felt no connection to the main character, Hanna (I even had to check the book jacket to see what her name was, and I just read the book), and I even felt out-of-touch with the character I had loved so much in "Stones" (Trudi Montag), who has cameo appearances in this book. In ...more
Sharon Huether
The honesty and innocence of a child is expressed by the author as Hanna Malter describes her friends and neighbors in a small town in Germany
Life centers around her friend Trudi at the Pay Library, who knows all.
Hanna and her mother are very close and like to take risks.
Hanna does her best to make sense of an uncertain world. She turns out a strong young teen.
Kathryn Bashaar
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is consists of linked short stories, about the people in the German town of Burgdorf in the 1950s. The stories are told from the point of view of young Hanna Malter, only living child of a beautiful, risk-taking artist mother and a sober, much older dentist father. Hanna's mother is loving but somewhat distant, often absorbed in her painting. Hanna adores her mother, but compensates for the lack of her mother's full attention by forming relationships with other adult women, including t ...more
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely beautiful writing. I actually felt the warmth of the people in the town, and felt their sorrows and pains as well. The relationship Hannah has with her mother is complex and loving. Hegi does an amazing job writing from the perspective of an adolescent girl, and touches on so many cultural post war issues in Germany. I highly recommend this book. The chapters are like small stories about different people in the village, so it's a great bedside book, easy to read a few chapters and put ...more
Sensitive, poetic, and gently bold. Genre wise, it's right in the middle between a novel and a book of short stories. Although much of the subject matter is deep and often sad/shocking, Hegi's style is sensitive and subtle enough not to overemphasize the drama. The book centers on an adolescent named Hannah's life and the people in her town in post-war Germany, whose lives and stories overlap. Many of the stories feature characters who have certain oddities about them, and while the book is hone ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hanna, a young girl lives in Burgdorf, a German village on the banks of the Rhein in the postwar 1950s. She flits about the village in the carefree manner of a child collecting stories about its inhabitants. At first, the tales seem whimsical and lighthearted. As Hanna grows she seems to become cognizant of the adversity that touches the lives of her neighbors. Some events, though they are macabre, still retain an element of whimsey. Does this sound contradictory? Ursula Hegi is a masterful writ ...more
This was a pleasant enough story, just not especially simulating. Short and quick. The writing is very nice. For the most part, I did not really have a sense of what the novel was about; I finally decided it was the coming of age of the central character and her relationship with her mother. I have the other book in this cycle, and won't hesitate at all to read it when it comes up.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looking for a very good quick read? This book is well written and interesting story. More appeal to female than male but a great little book.
Aug 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fic-historical
1950s Germany

To my surprise, I liked this little book. Now I'm wondering if I should read Stones from the River again. Maybe I had to get comfortable with the tone of Hegi's writing. The first sentence plunges the reader into Hegi's style:
When my mother entered her tenth month of carrying me, I stopped moving inside her womb.

Overall, the writing is dark, somber. There's no joy or attempt to focus on the positive aspects of life. This book is told from a young girl's POV, and she already views th
Ursula Hegi wrote "Floating in My Mother's Palm" before "Stones from the River", although the events in it come afterward. I'm not sure why I picked it up, much less bought it, because I was lukewarm about Stones. Yet, when I saw that Floating might give a different perspective on some of the same characters, I had to get it. It was an easier read that Stones, with chapters more like vignettes, and a main character, Hannah, that I found more likeable than Trudi in Stones. It was also a lot short ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would nearly classify this book as a collection of short stories, although by the end of the book, the reader is aware that the main character is Hanna. From time to time, this distinction is unclear as you learn about the lives of the people in town.

Hegi has a very pleasant writing style that feels naive and whimsical, fitting as reality is filtered through the mind of a child. This stands out in stark contrast to some of the darker undertones of the recollections and backstories recanted abo
Five stars, second in the series. The first book, Stones from the River, is more linear in the telling of a German town WW1 & WW2. This one is a generation later, told an essay format, between the chronigal timeline of the daughter of some of the principal characters from the first book, interspersed with slice of life stories about other characters. It is a beautifully designed tapestry. Coming in under 200 pages, I would have enjoyed twice that much. There are two more books in the series, ...more
Diane Webber-thrush
I read Ursula Hegi's Stones From the River years ago and loved it, so I'm not sure what took me so long to pick up another one of her books. I heard about this on an NPR show about the book and mini-series Olive Kittredge. A caller chimed in and said she thought this was a more successful collection of short stories about the same characters. Hegi wrote it before Stones from the River but it takes place after in time ... sort of prequel and sequel at the same time. It totally worked for me. One ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"it only occurred to me much later that the summer I was fourteen I have saved a life-not the life of a stranger as I had imagined-but the life I had taken for granted and which, the years to come, I would take for granted again"ーUrsula Hegi, Floating in My Mother's Palm.

This book is another adolescence reading that came unintentionally with Trick but both of these books are totally different. I took the time to read Floating in My Mother's Palm and had many thoughts in my head. It was such a me
Michelle Hofacker
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a continuation of the stories of the characters in "Stones from the River" from a different perspective. The first book is largely about the war and how it impacted people in Germany, but this is more about the people in the small German town. I wasn't expecting the horrible sense of sadness found in the end of this book, but that's the only emotion the book leaves ***SPOILER*** because such a beautiful, colorful person dies. That death makes changes in her daughter's life that are just ...more
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
While this book isn't technically a collection of short stories, it did read sort of read one--each chapter focused on the life of a person living in Burgdorf, with Hanna Malter as the uniting character. I generally don't like to read short stories, as the stories usually don't feel satisfactory to me, and just end, or they feel pointless or confusing. But in Floating in My Mother's Palm, I enjoyed each character's story, and felt satisfied after each chapter.

This book is under 200 pages, and be
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The multiple stories in Hegi's novel were absolutely wonderful. Each one was so good, I just wanted more of them once I got to the last page. I wanted to know more about these characters lives, for the stories to continue on. The stories were just crafted so wonderfully and immediately took hold of you. My favorite story was "Through the Dance of Her Hands." Just absolutely lovely writing through and through.
Emily Johnson
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful vignettes with a twist

I enjoyed reading these stories. Each one is about a different character from this small German town, and each one tells a meaningful incident from the life of the narrator in her youth. I loved how the stories were all related and how each helped increase the suspense as the various lives of the townspeople unfolded. Now I'm anxious to read other books about this town.
Alexander Oster
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hegi is a very talented writer.

The protagonist functions like a pivot, around which the book's many characters are oriented; most get their own 1st or 2nd person chapter, creating the effect of a short story collection loosely tied together.

I had not read the first book in her cycle, but was not lost.

A high point was the subtle understanding Hegi displays as her mourneful teenager awakens to class conciousness in the closing chapters.
Juliet Brambrink
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book of connected short stories, telling the big and small stories of the citizens of a German town.

I read this book on a plane. It’s a quick read, easy to read and digest in that type of environment. The stories range in quality from OK to very good - I most liked the stories about the town children.

I recommend this book for fans of short stories and lively characters.
Louisa Blair
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ursula Hegi is a wonderful writer and this is short stories each stand-alone but all connected about her childhood: the river is probably the most important character and her intense relationship with the land, the wind and rain and the plants, the water twist like vines through the tales of love, death, fear and greed, beauty and cruelty that stamp our lives as children for all time
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed by this book. After reading and enjoying Ursula Hegi's "Stones from the River" I looked forward to reading more of her books. I'm a fan of books with a story and found the short story format to be frustrating and actually kind of boring. I did enjoy the second half of the book more than the first half after I figured out that each chapter was like a short story.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short book was well written, each chapter a different story about someone in the town of Hanna's family. All told from the perspective of young Hanna. The stories weren't happy, they often were based on gossip obtained from a town busybody who ran a pay-library. Town secrets shared with a child and some experienced by herself.
Ursula Hegi is a gifted storyteller.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After reading and loving "Stones From The River" this was a disappointment. It lacked the character development and charm of the first book in the series. I found that surprising since this book was actually written first even though it is the second in the series.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author’s Stones From the River novel is one of my all time favorites. I always wondered how friends & neighbors could allow the Jews to be taken away. That book helped me understand the situation a bit.

This book by the same author is good writing style but is lacking in plot.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As expected Hegi artfully paints the inhabitants of a small German War after WWII. However while the stories share the same narrator and many of the characters reoccur in each chapter, this felt more like a book of short stories than a novel and short stories are just no a favorite genre of mine.
Lori Bamber
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A close to perfect little book ... I can't wait to read it again.
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500 Great Books B...: Floating in My Mother's Palm - Ursula Hegi 2 15 Aug 20, 2015 11:13AM  

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Ursula Hegi is the author of Sacred Time, Hotel of the Saints, The Vision of Emma Blau, Tearing the Silence, Salt Dancers, Stones from the River, Floating in My Mother's Palm, Unearned Pleasures and Other Stories, Intrusions, and Trudi & Pia. She is the recipient of more than thirty grants and awards.

Other books in the series

Burgdorf Cycle (4 books)
  • Stones from the River (Burgdorf Cycle, #1)
  • The Vision of Emma Blau
  • Children and Fire
“Some acts of faith, I believe, have the power to grant us something infinitely wiser than we imagine” 13 likes
“Marrying a woman who was reckless must have been the ultimate reckless act, requiring a lifetime of balancing to keep both of them safe” 8 likes
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