Review of Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps by

Book cover for Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps

I saw Dave Isay on The Colbert Report and decided to buy this book as a Mother's Day gift. The idea of StoryCorps itself appeals to me, so a book consisting of interviews about motherhood sounded interesting. I was not wrong.

The stories in Mom are moving in a way I suspect many people would dismiss as a case of reality being unrealistic, though I'm sure Isay chose these particular stories for their emotional impact. In other words, there's nothing dull about Mom. The people telling these stories talk very openly about memories of their mothers or their own experiences of being a mother; in so doing, they provide perspectives that most of us will never have. I certainly won't ever be a mother, and while I'm lucky enough to have a mother, I only have one, so my pool of memories is necessarily limited. Mom is storytelling at its most basic, the sharing of experiences that are uncommon yet knowable.

Most of us are aware of the significance of being a mother—we do have a day to celebrate it, after all—but few of us have the time or inclination to ponder truly the meaning of motherhood. Which is where books come into play. The stories here are varied enough that they don't give a single, overwhelming definition of motherhood. They allow you to judge, to form your own idea of what it means to be "mom." There are several similar stories, some from people who were adopted and found their biological mothers, others from women whose relationship with their mothers was different than their relationship with their daughters. The former belies the traditional "nuclear family" ideal that has been fracturing for decades, reminding us that whom we label family has more to do with blood or with birth. The latter again testifies to the diversity of opinions on parenting and motherhood. There is no one correct way to be "mom."

Not that I'm trying to make Mom sound like some sort of parenting tips magazine. It's not an instruction manual, but more like a serious and intimate form of YouTube. The stories here are powerful because they're genuine, and that makes them both enjoyable to read and thought-provoking. I'd recommend Mom as a gift to mothers, but it's not just for mothers. It's for everyone, because we all had, if not have, a mother somewhere.

Engagement

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