Friday, May 12, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Every Mother is a Daughter by Perri Klass & Sheila Solomon Klass

What is it that makes the bond between mother and daughter so different from any other relationship? Is it the shared experiences? Or is it as Perri Klass and Sheila Solomon Klass contend in their book Every Mother is a Daughter: the neverending quest for success, inner peace, and a really clean kitchen (recipes and knitting patterns included) that every mother is also a daughter?

Klass and Solomon Klass have collaborated to write this engaging exploration of their relationship and the extent to which each has mirrored the life of their own mother. Both are published authors with distinct voices that fit well in a collaborative effort. Klass, a pediatrician, has a column in Knitter’s Magazine as well as writing non-fiction and fiction books. Solomon Klass is a retired English professor who writes fiction for adults and children.

Every Mother is a Daughter explores the stereotypes of gender and roles, especially as they pertain to the all-important role of feeding a family. Solomon Klass, raised in New York during the depression by Orthodox Jewish parents whose marriage was full of bitterness and conflict, internalized many of her mother’s fanatical beliefs about women’s roles. Escaping the bleakness of her silent childhood home right after high school, Solomon Klass carried many of her mother’s admonishments into her own marriage: men were not allowed in the kitchen; dinner must contain a starch, a green vegetable, a protein, and a fruit; and women should get dressed immediately upon rising.

Klass, born in Trinidad but raised in New Jersey, gently teases her mother for her quirks while marveling at her bravery and independence. While Klass deviates from her mother’s frugality and insistance on home cooked meals (dinners are often eaten out), she has carried on her mother’s legacy in raising strong and independent children, while working full-time herself.

Reflecting on all stages of their lives, Klass and Solomon Klass create a memoir written in two voices, the most compelling being the section on “Becoming a Mother, Becoming a Grandmother.” Solomon Klass writes so meaningfully on sharing the birth experience with her daughter that the experience stays with the reader for days.

As Solomon Klass states “this whole book is really about lives so blended as to be inseparable.” Perhaps that is all anyone wants, a relationship with their Mother that is so positive that all their lives are blended, not just childhood. Every Mother is a Daughter is a loving testament to the powerful bond between mother and daughter.

See the review as it is posted at Armchair Interviews: Every Mother is a Daughter.

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