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Friday, July 8, 2011

'Mothers & Daughters' by Rae Meadows


Synopsis from Goodreads:

When a box of Iris's belongings arrives on Sam's doorstep, she discovers links to pieces of her family history but is puzzled by much of the information the box contains. She learns that her grandmother Violet left New York City as an eleven-year-old girl, traveling by herself to the Midwest in search of a better life. But what was Violet's real reason for leaving? And how could she have made that trip alone at such a tender age? In confronting secrets from her family's past, Sam comes to terms with deep secrets from her own. Moving back and forth in time between the stories of Sam, Violet, and Iris, Mothers and Daughters is the spellbinding tale of three remarkable women connected across a century by the complex wonder of motherhood.


First thoughts after finishing this book: You think because you're family that you know everything about each other, but the truth is you really don't.

What I liked about the book:

  • The characters and how the author gave each one their own voice and the chance to tell their story. I loved how it all started with a box that contained items from a loved ones past.
  • The mother/daughter relationship. We are strange creatures aren't we? At times we are each other's best friends and other times could find us bitter enemies.
  • The Orphan Trains....I read a children's book, Rodzina, which I highly recommend, and this was my first exposure to the fact that this happened to many orphan children in the cities. Makes me want to delve a little bit more into that period of time.

Personal Thoughts:
Vyola & Joe
My Grandparents
While I was reading this I realized how lucky that my Grandmother Vyola and her siblings escaped the fate of those that were put on the orphan trains. Her father died first and then almost a year later her mother passed away. No one from the family stood up to take my Grandma and her four brothers (I'm getting very emotional here...this breaks my heart) and so they were sent to a Catholic orphanage in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My Grandma and her younger brother stayed until they aged out, but her other three brothers ran away and joined the service as soon as they could. I lost my Grandma 5 years ago but I never knew about her childhood until it was too late as she had Alzheimer's by the time I was "interested" enough to find out about my loved ones lives. With that personal story in my family this book really resonated with me and touched my heart.

Recommend? Without hesitation. It may spur you to start asking questions about what life was like for your parents growing up and if you're lucky enough to still have your grandparents, take some time today to talk to them...really talk to them!

Rating: 8.5/10


Author: Rae Meadows
Published: April 2011
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Henry Holt and Company
ISNB: 9780805093834


Disclaimer: I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel

© 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

25 comments:

  1. Staci, I felt very sad just reading your review (sorry your grandma and siblings had such a hard life). I do want to read this book though, I think I would love it.

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  2. I used to love to listen to my grandmother's stories. I wish I could hear her tell more of them.

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  3. Mother/daughter relationships are indeed curious. This book sounds good to me.

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  4. I would love to know more about my grandmother's childhood too. I was quite young when she passed.

    I'm glad you enjoyed this book. I have this in my tbr pile and need to get to it.

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  5. Just the cover alone draws me in! Sounds like a fabulous book...and I loved reading about your Grandma... I can't even imagine how life was for her! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

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  6. Sounds like another winner!

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  7. Wonderful review - made even more poignant by your grandmother's story. This sounds like a book that I would most definitely enjoy reading on many levels.

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  8. It's funny how many of us had grandmothers who had amazing lives that we wonder how we could have survived through. My grandmother came over to America from Russia when she was 9 with no one but her 7 year old sister. And she came as a stowaway! I would have been dead in like five minutes!

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  9. Awww, Staci....I just want to jump through the computer and hug you! Isn't it just amazing and heartbreaking when a book speaks to you like that? I'm sorry for your grandmother and her brothers. Must have been very hard. I'm glad to hear your thoughts about this book and look forward to reading it. Again, hugs to you!

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  10. I am glad this book touched your heart!! Thankfully, my grandparents loved to tell their stories. A couple of them had checkered pasts!

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  11. I've read about the orphan trains and think I need to read this. The fact that you could relate on a personal level makes it even more meaningful.

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  12. I can't imagine family not coming forward to help your grandma and her siblings. So sad and tragic. I see see how reading this story would affect you, given your personal experiences.

    I never even knew my grandparents. If my immediate family is dysfunctional (which they are with a captial D) then I don't even know what to call the grandparents. The closest I came to having any was when I married my husband. His grandparents were great...but I only knew them for a few years before they passed away.

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  13. I am glad you had a personal connection with this book. That can sure make a difference :)

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  14. This book sounds good! And I enjoyed your addition of the personal story.

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  15. I really want to read this one. I'm interested in the era of the Orphan Trains and am going to seek out the children's book you mentioned as well.

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  16. This book really touched me, too, Staci. I love books about families, and family secrets top my list of favorites.

    This one was very well done. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  17. You're the second person I've seen who really liked this book. I have it on my shelf and really need to find a way to read it (sleep less? I don't know - there are just too many books on my list right now).

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  18. Sounds like a very heartwarming book. I love to hear the stories you tell about your grandparents!

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  19. I don't know anything about the orphans of this time and what happened to them, so this is very interesting to me.
    What an amazing life your grandmother must have led. They are always taken from us too soon.

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  20. My heart goes out to you, my friend. {Staci} I've experienced the frustration of not asking questions when I could have gotten answers.

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  21. Wonderful advice, Staci. All 4 of my grandparents had already passed away when I was born. What a loss! I would have loved to know about their lives. My beloved aunt Hazel passed away at 95 just before we moved south. If I could have the luxury of having her back for just a day, there are so many things I would ask her. And tell her that I still miss her.

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  22. What a wonderful review! Your personal connection to the story makes it a richer reading experience, I'm sure. I have this book and really need to make time to read it!

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  23. Staci, I'm sorry about your grandma and her siblings. It's awful that nobody in the family would take them in. That's not anything I could ever do to anyone.

    I'm glad to see you enjoyed this book. I have it on my night table and have been anxious to read it. I just love the cover on it as well. Very beautiful.

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  24. Staci, what a great review. A sign of a good book is that it touches you on a personal level,IMO. I have not heard of the orphan trains and it's heartbreaking to imagine children being sent off on these and to orphanages when they lose their parents. Your grandmother sounds like she was an amazing woman. We don't realize as children and young adults the important of our heritage and family stories until it is often too late. I'm adding this book to my wishlist!

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  25. Early generations had so many heartaches and tough situations to deal with. Kids today have no idea. I also wish I could have asked my Grandmom more about her early life but like you was too late to do so. sounds like an interesting and moving read. Thanks for the recommendation.

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