Crylen’s story stands as a reminder that listening, therapy, and forgiveness are crucial, but the day-to-day application challenges the best of us. That’s especially clear as Terry acts as helper to “mother her mother.” Florence’s silence and absence trigger the darkest times, and it sparks Terry to begin Operation Help Mom, her attempt to care for her siblings and lessen her mother’s despair. Crylen is refreshingly frank about what this takes. Without a confidante or role model, Terry keeps secrets and makes poor choices as she struggles through her teenage years and schooling. Her anxiety, fear, and guilt make matters worse as she marries an alcoholic, John, a man twice her age.
But the memoir never shies from hope. As she completes her psychology doctorate and enters therapy, Terry breaks through some of the trauma inflicted by her mother’s words yet is still secretive and haunted by guilt. Still, when she has her own daughter, Grace, the cycle of mother to daughter transitions to a whole new generation of burying emotions, seeking attention, and recycling the trauma—complex cycles books like this help to illuminate. Perfect mothering is impossible, and Crylen’s brave narrative shares intimate details of her life to help others. Perhaps in the next generation, the fathers’ roles will be as closely scrutinized.
Takeaway: Affecting memoir of a daughter mothering her mother—and breaking cycles.
Comparable Titles: Michelle Zauner’s Crying in the H Mart, Kelly McDaniel’s Mother Hunger.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A