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Mother Daughter Me: A Memoir Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (July 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140006936X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069361
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When Hafner’s octogenarian mother, Helen, is no longer able to care for her ailing life partner in her San Diego home, Hafner hatches a brilliant plan: move Helen to San Francisco to live with her and her teenage daughter, Zoe. It seems like an ideal scenario. Hafner will have a chance to mend the tears in the fabric of her prickly relationship with her mother, whose years raising her daughter were marked by alcohol-fueled bouts of rage. And Zoe will become better acquainted with a grandmother she’s never really known. But immediately Zoe has concerns, namely, what will happen to her strong bond with her mom. (Since Zoe’s father died of a heart attack at 45, Zoe and her mother have grown remarkably close.) Zoe doesn’t simply tell me everything, says Hafner, she entrusts me with her fragile heart. Veteran journalist Hafner writes with compassion and wit about the often uneasy alliances between mothers and daughters and the surprising ways in which relationships can be redeemed even late in life. --Allison Block


“The most raw, honest and engaging memoir I’ve read in a long time.”—KJ Dell’Antonia, The New York Times
“A brilliant, funny, poignant, and wrenching story of three generations under one roof, unlike anything I have ever read.”—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
“Weaving past with present, anecdote with analysis, [Katie] Hafner’s riveting account of multigenerational living and mother-daughter frictions, of love and forgiveness, is devoid of self-pity and unafraid of self-blame. . . . [Hafner is] a bright—and appealing—heroine.”—Cathi Hanauer, Elle
“[A] frank and searching account . . . Currents of grief, guilt, longing and forgiveness flow through the compelling narrative.”Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle
“A touching saga that shines . . . We see how years-old unresolved emotions manifest.”Lindsay Deutsch, USA Today
“[Hafner’s] memoir shines a light on nurturing deficits repeated through generations and will lead many readers to relive their own struggles with forgiveness.”—Erica Jong, People

“An unusually graceful story, one that balances honesty and tact . . . Hafner narrates the events so adeptly that they feel enlightening.”Harper’s
“Heartbreakingly honest, yet not without hope and flashes of wry humor.”Kirkus Reviews
“[An] emotionally raw memoir examining the delicate, inevitable shift from dependence to independence and back again.”O: The Oprah Magazine (Ten Titles to Pick Up Now)
“Scrap any romantic ideas about what goes on when a 40-something woman invites her mother to live with her and her teenage daughter for a year. As Hafner hilariously and touchingly tells it, being the center of a family sandwich is, well, complicated.”Parade

“Brilliant . . . Mother Daughter Me is a beautifully written, intimately provocative, and courageous unpeeling of the deep rhythms of love, hate, fear, and redemption in three generations of females. I love this book!”—Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain
“An emotional whodunit that uses brilliant journalistic acumen to crack the code of old family secrets.”—Madeleine Blais, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Uphill Walkers
“Heartbreakingly honest . . . In a narrative that skillfully moves between her present predicament and her difficult childhood, Hafner offers a compelling portrait of her remarkable mother and their troubled relationship.”Kirkus Reviews

“Hafner writes with compassion and wit about the often uneasy alliance between mothers and daughters and the surprising ways in which relationships can be redeemed even late in life.”Booklist

More About the Author

Katie Hafner was born in Rochester, New York, and has lived in more cities, towns and hamlets than she cares to count. She started writing about technology in 1983, the year the Apple Lisa was introduced. For nearly a decade, she wrote about technology for the The New York Times's Circuits section. She currently writes on healthcare topics for the paper's Science section. She has also written for Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Esquire, Wired, The New Republic, the Huffington Post and O Magazine. Her sixth book, Mother Daughter Me, a memoir, was published by Random House in July 2013.

Customer Reviews

Or can understand things at a depth others may miss.
Beth DeRoos
Katie Hafner has told an amazingly personal story about family, loss and love.
Lorie in Philly
It is well written and the three characters very real.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Susan R. Levy on July 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
A must-read this summer is Katie Hafner's compelling memoir, "Mother Daughter Me" . The book chronicles the childhood of 2 little girls, Hafner and her sister, living in Florida with their young alcoholic mother and her revolving-door of boyfriends. When they are finally rescued from their mother's neglect they are sent up north to complete their childhood with their fairly absent father, cold step-mother and step-siblings.

Years later, at seventy-seven, the author's mother finds herself aging and alone. Some combination of optimism, moral commitment, kindness and decency inspire Hafner to set out to reinvent their relationship by helping her move to San Fransisco to live with Hafner and her teen daughter, Zoe. But as she describes it, "their year in Tuscany" did not turn out as she had fantasized, when childhood memories and resentments, that she thought were old history, quickly resurface with a vengeance.

I found the book hard to put down , mainly because Katie Hafner's writing style is so enjoyable to read . At times her story is tragic and heart-breaking, yet she manages to convey a great deal of humor and objectivity in observations of herself, raising a teen, her relationships and her diligent pursuit to establish a maternal connection for her mother herself and Zoe. I sometimes found myself crying and laughing all within one chapter. Definitely include this book in your beach bag; it is truly moving and inspiring.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Angela M. Hey VINE VOICE on May 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the opening pages Katie mentions a Steinway piano. I thoroughly enjoyed her book about Glenn Gould's piano - A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano. Steinways figure in this masterfully crafted book too, which explains Katie's relationship with pianos, as well as people.

Anyone writing a biography or autobiography can learn much from Katie's brilliant writing style, which chronicles her relationships as both mother and daughter. I found a much more vulnerable Katie in this book than that suggested by her earlier techno-focused writings - Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet and Cyberpunk. She notes that her mother, whose name is changed in the book, was less than thrilled to be featured in her daughter's memoir. Given the struggles between Katie, mother, daughter and lovers, I'm in awe of how she became a successful writer. A child of an alcoholic mother, broken families and multiple schools, Katie reveals her innermost feelings with a colorful vocabulary that makes this a book you can't put down.

If you've ever had to move your mother out of her home, or had your elderly mother reside in your home, then some of the tense scenes will be familiar. A fashionably, possessive single parent of a single child, Katie leads you through therapy sessions, teenage tantrums and traumatic dramas.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dylan Kaye on July 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Although I am not the target audience for Mother Daughter Me, I found myself swept up by the authors heart-wrenching and painfully real story. Hafner's writing is very entertaining and she should be applauded for her honesty.

While I am not a daughter, I am a son of a mother and a grandson of a grandmother. Until reading Hafner's memoir I had never given much thought to my mother's life before my birth and her relationship with her own mother. I was intrigued by Hafner's detailed depiction of how difficult it can be to navigate inter-generational living. It made me appreciate my connection to my own mother and the sacrifices and choices she has made in terms of her children as well as her parents.

All three women in the novel are on display for the reader - there are no 'good' or 'bad' characters; they are just real people with real flaws. As a reader, I found myself growing to respect and understand the women even though I didn't always agree with the actions they took.

This is a memoir that almost anyone can relate to because it deals with some of the hard truths of family and relationships that we all face. Loved it!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Pamela V VINE VOICE on August 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mother Daughter Me is memoir of three generations that undergo living together in San Francisco, in a rental house in Pacific Heights. The book is written by author Katie Hafner, has rave reviews from everyone, and even made Oprah's book list. I love memoirs, and grabbed this one, expecting something special, but I'm disappointed.

Maybe it's because I've read many memoirs from troubled children left abandoned, abused and neglected, and feel that Hafner really didn't have it bad enough to write about it. Try reading Cruel Harvest, You Ain't Got No Easter Clothes , or Etched in Sand: a True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island, and tell me Katie Hatfer had it so bad.

Perhaps, like a few other brave reviewers, I see this book as a personal attack on the authors mother, Helen. I also agree that the author droned on about trivial things like shopping, finding a parking space, and so on. Anyone living with three generations under one roof is bound to have arguments. Roommates of any relation squabble over food in the fridge, bills that are split, and areas of a home that have to be shared. These arguments are not uncommon or interesting. Even Hafner herself admits she took charge over the kitchen and wouldn't allow her mothers inferior utensils and cookware to be used or stored there.

While it is obvious that Helen had a drinking problem and was far from a good mother, it's also time to move on or cut ties all together. Few people have the opportunity to turn the table on their elderly parent and repay the favor of living in a miserable home.
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