Parental Control

Two books by daughters

Two books by Maine women landed on my pile recently that deal with the often harsh complexities of daughter-parent relationships. One is about mothers, the other about a father, and both are testaments to women’s strength—and resiliency—in emotionally healing from deep-rooted wrongs. They are also tributes to women’s power to overcome and forgive.

Implosion, A Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter

“Implosion, A Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter”
By Elizabeth W. Garber
She Writes Press, $16.95

Elizabeth A. Garber is a published poet and acupuncturist and the daughter of an abusive, unyielding man. Woodie Garber was a renowned modernist architect who designed, among other high-profile projects, the family’s glass-walled house in Ohio.

Garber writes of how, as a young child, she idolized her father, then grew to fear and despise him for the terror he inflicted on her, her brothers and their mother. When the family finally flees his control, they are forced to live in poverty and to learn how to “emerge from the damage of our entrapment in the glass house.”

Through it all, from her rebellious teenage years in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s to her adult life with a family of her own in Maine, Garber loves her father. She strives to regain some semblance of a healthy relationship with him.

“Implosion” is a flowing, emotional memoir, and Garber’s life experiences are compelling and perceptive.

Compassionate Journeys, Honoring Our Mothers’ Stories

“Compassionate Journeys, Honoring Our Mothers’ Stories”
By Maggie Butler, Cheryl Gillespie, Jenny Radsma, Martha Rice & Jane Sloven
Maine Authors Publishing, $18.95

If you took yourself out of the role of daughter and took a deep dive into your mother’s life story, where would you end up? If during your childhood she abandoned you, was cruel or just had unrealistic expectations, would her story and experiences evoke your empathy? Would you come to understand your mother as a woman in the context of her time?

Five Maine women found out. They met for more than five years to unravel their mothers’ stories, researching the “personal, cultural and historical forces that shaped” these women’s lives. The daughters offer up their work in “Compassionate Journey, Honoring Our Mothers’ Stories.”

Their stories are an intimate look at their mothers, from their vulnerabilities to their vigor. The writers share their relationships, past and present, the trauma, the arguments, the tender times. At the end of each mini-biography, the writers reflect on their journey, what they learned and what it means to them.

The book also provides a guide for readers who would like to make their own “compassionate journey” through their own mothers’ lives.

This is a book that will resonate with many in its relatable scenes of mother-daughter conflicts, estrangement and final days.

Amy Canfield, a daughter and a mother, is a writer and editor who lives in South Portland.

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