OPHELIA'S MOM: Women Speak Out About Loving and Letting Go of Their Adolescent Daughters
Family therapist Shandler (Estrogen: The Natural Way) follows up on daughter Sara Shandler's 1999 bestselling collection of teenage girls' writings about their lives, Ophelia Speaks, with a collection presenting their mothers' perspectives. Although Shandler's calls for submissions yielded far fewer responses than her daughter's, she culled over 110 essays, poems and conversational snippets (including overheard restaurant conversations) focused on what she regards as the biggest problem confronting mothers of adolescents: "the paradoxical challenge to love daughters and let go of them." The book, which includes a foreword by Sara, discusses raging hormones, school, sex, drugs, alcohol, sibling rivalry and divorce. The selections vary greatly in quality and tone but all are heartfelt. Among the strongest are Jean L. McGroarty's poignant recollection in "Driving Lesson" that her daughter, who is about to drive away, was once a little baby playing with her keys, and Felicia Blasi's humorous take "On Shopping" in which she observes that "there are no logical reasons to have children." In the poem "March 12, 1994," Karen Margulies Green chronicles her attempt to help her drug-addicted daughter, while in "Don't Worry, Mom, I'm Right Here," Grace Wozniak shares her struggle with breast cancer with her daughter at her side. In "In a Mother's Tears" R.M. searches for a silver lining when her 14-year-old daughter is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While this is not a parenting how-to guide, the sheer volume of the entries offers reassurance that other mothers, too, face tough choices during their daughters' sullen years—and that most teens and parents emerge from this difficult period wiser and stronger. (Sept.)
Forecast:Buoyed by an NPR sponsorship, an eight-city author tour and the impressive track record of her daughter's book, Shandler's collection should capture some media attention, though as a parenting book it enters a more competitive niche than Sara's collection of teen testimonials.