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A Good Enough Daughter: A memoir Paperback – February 29, 2000

4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shulman's autobiographical novel, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, epitomized the intellectual and sexual awakenings of many young women in the 1960s. Now, like so many of her contemporaries, she's grappling with the loss of her parents, and with what it means to be a daughter. For Shulman, this undertaking is infused with guilt about the distance she imposed by choosing to live the literary life in New York City while her parents grew old in Cleveland, Ohio. But this memoir is more than just an effort to express the appreciation for her late parents that she couldn't quite bring herself to grant them in their lifetimes. What makes it satisfying are Shulman's wonderfully idiosyncratic reminiscences of two colorful and articulate parents who loved and encouraged their daughter. She elegantly interweaves such poignant events as dismantling the family home after her mother and father have moved into a retirement community with moments from the childhood years she shared with her adopted brother, Bob, who died of lung cancer at a relatively young age. The messager of this honest and well-written memoir is, in the end, one of redemption, reconciliation and affection. The rebellious ex-prom queen has become a caring daughter. Black and white photos.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Watching one's parents slip toward death is a painful process, but Shulman transforms her experience into one of self-discovery and renewal. The author of ten previous books, along with stories and essays, Shulman is probably best remembered for Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen (LJ 2/15/72). Here, she departs from the current trend to dwell on the negative in lifeAshe loves her parents, finding satisfaction and joy in helping them face the decline of old age. Shulman alternates present events with scenes from her past, telling of her rebellion and youthful struggle for independence from the parents she considered hopelessly bourgeois and describing the reconciliation between her family and her earlier self. As she packs and sorts papers and mementos, she engages her parents in their collective past and draws closer to them. A skilled writer, Shulman brings wit, warmth, and insight to a situation many will face: going home for the final time. A story that will warm hearts and bring tears; recommended for all public libraries.ANancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; Reprint edition (February 29, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805211020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805211023
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,267,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This relatively short (254 pages) memoir is outstanding in the way Shulman reviews her life and learns more about those of her parents as she cleans out the home they lived in for forty years (after moving both of them to an assisted-living facility) in the prosperous suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio. She finds old letters she has written to her parents and they have written to each other. She re-explores the rooms and furnishings of the house she grew up in, couldn't wait to leave after high school graduation, and finally returns to. So well does she describe her parents that by the end of the book, following both their deaths at the retirement home, I was weeping myself, and missing her sensuous, vivacious mother, and matter-of-fact, judicious, loving father. The weakness of the book is that her relationship with her brother (actually a cousin her parents adopted after his mother died following childbirth) is very poorly described. We are told they have not had a close relationship as adults, but, aside from one episode of friction the author relates, we do not know why. When her brother dies of lung cancer, she regrets their distant relationship, but does not seem to have done much to nurture a better one while he was living.
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Format: Paperback
This is a deeply affecting memoir, one which more than once moved me to tears. In it Shulman tells how, in her sixties, she was forced to return to the Cleveland of her youth, the place she fled at the age of twenty, anxious to break familial ties and make her mark. As a much respected writer, she achieved the latter. But those familial ties, while stretched very thin for many years, were never really broken. For this is a memoir more about her parents' lives than about her own. From Jewish immigrant stock, they built successful lives in Cleveland, her father a lawyer and her mother a community activist and volunteer, patron of the arts and more. Shulman tells with almost a sense of wonder and discovery what she finally learns about these two people who raised her, and from whom she yearned to escape as a young woman. Now a mother and twice divorced, she finally understands what strong and admirable people her parents were and wishes she had appreciated them more before this final stage of their lives. Because she has come back to help get them settled into a nursing home, her father (93) with congestive heart failure, and her mother (87) slipping into dementia. As she sifts through the accumulations of a lifetime in their Shaker Heights home, she comes to know them better - as people, not just as parents.

A passage that especially moved me was: "...seeing my letters so carefully preserved, I regretted having saved so few of hers ..."

My own mother has carefully saved all of my letters from the past 40-some years, so I stopped short as I read this. I didn't save my mother's letters either. Now I wish I had.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book has become extra-special to me for several reasons: 1. I always was an admirer of Alix Kates Shulman's work, especially this memoir and her novel Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen; 2. I have a widowed mom who has suddenly -- not gradually -- turned frail and forgetful between the ages of 81-82, an 87-year-old mother-in-law in advanced dementia being well taken care of in a senior assisted living home here in PA as nice as Cleveland's Judson Park, have been recently bereaved of my father-in-law who died at age 87 from cancer, and lost my own dad to cancer in 2011. So this book with the sadness and worry and concerned care for beloved elderly parents really hits home. Oh, also, 3. I grew up in Cleveland myself, remaining until my mid-20's, so any little scrap of familiar Cleveland references in this book I gobbled up, and do wish there were more.

My best friend since high school days was lucky enough to meet Alix at a book-signing in Cleveland Heights some years ago, had the reissued Prom Queen and Drinking in the Rain personally autographed for me, and told me Alix was a very nice lady who really appreciated my liking her work. I really would get a big kick out of that "Cleveland book" Alix K-S threatened to write about the bourgeois provincial suburbs (guess what, Pittsburgh, for all the well-meaning and genuinely nice people here, is even more culturally backward and provincial).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Memoir is my favorite genre, but I found this memoir totally unengaging. Large doses of humor may have helped leaven this weighty prose. Halfway through, I just couldn't bring myself to care enough about the subjects to go further.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Want the author to know i loved her story. Felt all her ups and downs. Found the story beautifully knitted and interesting, at every turn a surprise, well written .... and as a good movie wet eyes at the end.
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