Motherloss

Lynn Davidman, Author
Lynn Davidman, Author University of California Press $45 (293p) ISBN 978-0-520-22319-6
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 293 pages - 978-0-520-23200-6
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 307 pages - 978-0-520-92802-2
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In an admitted attempt to reconcile her own experience of losing her mother to cancer when she was 13, Davidman fuses scholarly study with personal narrative in order to prove that the loss of one's mother is an incomparable ""biographical disruption."" A sociology professor at Brown, she spent five years interviewing 60 adults whose mothers had died when they were between the ages of 10 and 15. Casting her subjects as damaged by their family's ""deviance"" from the ""normative"" household, Davidman bases her argument on a cultural ideal of motherhood and the nuclear family that many readers may find outdated. While she identifies three valid issues that must be resolved by those contending with ""motherloss""--including silence on the subjects of death and of their mothers, loss of caring and the preservation of a symbolic maternal presence--Davidman fails to offer any evidence that these issues are unique to motherless children. Not quite a compelling collection of memoirs nor a practical self-help manual, Davidman's study reads more like a cathartic exercise than a useful survey. (Apr.)
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