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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mother and daughter revisit their struggles with communism
A compelling true story about an altruistic woman's growth as a charismatic communist organizer and the challenges/sacrifices she and her family face as a result of her ideals and activism. Starts with the mother's version of her life, including the exhilarating but few years spent in the Soviet Union shortly after the revolution, and ends with daughter's darker...
Published on April 28, 2000 by Lee Green

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A memoir which falls far short of its potential
A fairly good book, even very good in some places, but with a major flaw: it totally ignores and evades major historical events which Rose Chernin, a quintessentially political person, would have had to confront. Where is her reaction to the crimes committed by the Soviet Union against its own citizens (forced famine and evacuations, political purges, vicious...
Published on October 1, 2011 by Taffy Sassoon


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mother and daughter revisit their struggles with communism, April 28, 2000
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A compelling true story about an altruistic woman's growth as a charismatic communist organizer and the challenges/sacrifices she and her family face as a result of her ideals and activism. Starts with the mother's version of her life, including the exhilarating but few years spent in the Soviet Union shortly after the revolution, and ends with daughter's darker experience in Soviet Union and her struggle to accept her mother while rejecting her ideology.
"In My Mother's House" provides an eye-opening look at a period of history when ordinary people felt like they truly could change the world. Many may find the stark black and white view of communist activity in America they were taught in school no longer rings true.
When the mother and daughter describe their own activities, the reading is effortless. However, when Chernin diverges to comment upon the actual process of storytelling, the reader can become annoyed and bogged down by Chernin's excessive self-absorbed emoting. However, this is a tiny part of the book and can be easily skimmed over.
Rose's story is very inspirational. Many will be motivated to look at their own lives and activities and ponder how they can be of more service. Rose Chernin was a tiny woman, but fueled by her strong dedication to justice and fairness, she was able to inspire other idealistic people to change discriminatory laws and create numerous needed community organizations, such as daycare for working women.
This is a book about idealism, finding a purpose in life, mothers and daughers, feminism, communism, unions, American history, and much more. A good read for active minds.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating personal accounts of controversial history, May 29, 2005
Poet Kim Chernin wrote the memoir "In My Mother's House" because her mother asked her to, and the book began with her mother's proposal. It took seven years for her to finish writing. The book uses a structure of alternative chapters: one in the present time, in a family setting, with the mother starting to tell a story, and the author expressing her emotions toward her mother and the writing experience; the next from her mother's POV, telling a personal story interwoven with a piece of the American Communist history before and during the McCarthy period. The mother's stories hold my interest throughout, as she was so genuinely enthusiastic about being an organizer of Communist activities, even though it meant she had to go to jail and face deportation. When she lived in the Soviet Union during 1932-34 before WWII, she found that country the realization of her idealistic dream and she loved her life there wholeheartedly. Her experience in America during the McCarthy period, on the other hand, illustrates how cruel and unjust a so-called democratic government can become when it operates on belief instead of the constitution. All this is so controversial. I kept wanting to know what the mother would think after Stalin's crimes were exposed later. It turns out the mother was never disillusioned while the daughter eventually was during her own visit to Moscow in the 1970s. It is the personal accounts of a controversial history that fascinates me, while I'm not sure how much the structure of alternative chapters helped. I think the mother's POV helped a lot, as her voice is quite distinctive from the author's and this made the mother's stories more vivid. I found the author's chapters in between her mother's storytelling somewhat uninteresting with the presentation of her own emotions too repetitive, to the point it got boring. Overall, one flaw cannot mar the jade, "In My Mother's House" was a great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A memoir which falls far short of its potential, October 1, 2011
This review is from: In My Mother's House: A Memoir (Paperback)
A fairly good book, even very good in some places, but with a major flaw: it totally ignores and evades major historical events which Rose Chernin, a quintessentially political person, would have had to confront. Where is her reaction to the crimes committed by the Soviet Union against its own citizens (forced famine and evacuations, political purges, vicious anti-Semitism, gulags, etc.), to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Holocaust, the creation of Israel and the Rosenberg trial? Even if she decided to keep her head in the sand and persist in believing in Soviet righteousness, why doesn't the book tell us that? How can a "memoir" purporting to tell the story of such a politically active and aware (Jewish) person ignore her response to cataclysmic historical events which HAD to have impinged on her ideological belief system?

Rose Chernin's historically valuable personal odyssey could have made a much more meaningful contribution to documenting the phenomenon of American Jewish Communists than it does. As it stands, it's a charming vignette but not much more. Rather than addressing crucial historical and ethical issues, the author has padded her narrative with boring and irrelevant commentaries about the looks in people's eyes and the expressions on their faces. A golden opportunity has been missed of telling an important story in a way which would convey its full significance. Instead, the reader is left feeling frustrated and short-changed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Portrayal, April 27, 2000
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Kim Chernin offers a heart-felt portrayal of matriarchial family history, using both her mother's unique voice and her own. Eloquantly and honestly written, Chernin sits the reader at her mother's (Rose Chernin) feet to experience first-hand the stories told in her mother's house. Born in Russia in the early 1900's, Rose speaks through Kim simply, with exquisit detail about life in the Russian Pale of Settlement, her families move to New York and her alliance with the communist party. If for no other reason, this book is worth reading purely for the portrayal of Rose's voice.
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In My Mother's House: A Memoir
In My Mother's House: A Memoir by Kim Chernin (Paperback - May 1, 2003)
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