Thursday, January 1, 2009
Review: Becoming My Mother's Daughter:: A Story of Survival and Renewal by Erika Gottlieb
Becoming My Mother's Daughter: A Story of Survival and Renewal by Erika Gottlieb
Becoming My Mother’s Daughter: A Story of Survival and Renewal tells the story of three generations of a Jewish Hungarian family whose fate has been inextricably bound up with the turbulent history of Europe, from the First World War through the Holocaust and the communist takeover after World War II, to the family’s dramatic escape and emmigration to Canada.
This is a moving and touching memoir of three generations of Jewish women originally from Budapest, Hungary. The main focus of the book is on the ties between mothers and daughters and how they survive, grow and change during times of trauma and stress. Erica, the narrator of the book (the author) tells most of her story from the viewpoint of herself as a young child during the Nazi Invasion of Hungary. She writes of events that shape and form relationships and experiences of her grandmother, mother and sisters. The family is able to emigrate to Canada safely and their lives change in many other ways. As her mother ages and deals with illness, Eva goes through a cathartic process of looking back in the past through mementos and photos that her mother saved. These items were treasured and protected in an old purse that her mother carried with them as a child as they were in hiding. This purse was a saving grace during difficult times as it may have held a piece of bread,or some chocolate. Eva was able to assemble these mementos in albums and in the process gleam a better understanding and connection to her mother and herself . She is able to reconcile her love and understanding for her mother and to find answers to many unanswered questions. This book is one that any mother and/or daughter can relate to as the bond between mother and daughter is universal. This book did make me stop and think about my own mother and grandmothers and how what they experienced in life had a great effect on their own lives and our relationships. Eva is also a visual artist and there are sketch drawings interspersed throughout the book that often accompany the telling of a story or experience that she shares.
Thanks to Mini Book Expo and WLU Press for sending me this book to read and review.
Becoming My Mother's Daughter, released in March 2008, is part of the Life Writing Series at Wilfrid Laurier University Press which: "publishes life writing and new life-writing criticism in order to promote autobiographical accounts, diaries, letters and testimonials written and/or told by women and men whose political, literary or philosophical purposes are central to their lives." (Quote from the WLU Press website)