Book Review and Giveaway of Because I Love Her, Edited by Andrea Richesin

May 8, 2009

Book giveaway closed; check this blog post for the winners and thanks for commenting.

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I have two copies to give away of this great new anthology about mothers and daughters called Because I Love Her, edited by Andrea Richesin. To enter, please check out my review and interview with the editor, then leave a comment at the end of this post by the end of the day Saturday telling us something you love about your mother or your daughter.

BILH Cover

The mother-daughter bond is complex. As daughters, we may strive to be more like our mothers, or we may cast off both the implicit and explicit things our mothers taught us. As mothers, we may want different things for our daughters than we had growing up, and we may celebrate the diversity to be had through generations of women passing down their wisdom. No matter our relationships with our mothers, they almost always leave a gaping hole in our hearts when they are gone.

In her new anthology, Because I Love Her, editor Andrea N. Richesin weaves together a collection of essays by women writers who explore that mother-daughter relationship in all its complexities. The writers candidly talk about the effect their mothers had on their lives as well as their own hopes and aspirations for their daughters. They celebrate the emotional highs and lows that come from such intimate knowledge of each other—knowledge than can help to build us up or tear us down.

The collection includes essays written by well-known authors, such at Jacquelyn Mitchard, Joyce Maynard, Susan Wiggs and Karen Karbo., as well as emerging voices.

Because I Love Her may be most appropriate for a mother-daughter book club with daughters who are in high school, but even more, I think it’s a wonderful anthology to keep in your permanent library. I imagine pulling it off the shelf every few months to reread an essay or two.  I plan to give a copy to my mother for Mother’s Day, and I’m also putting it on my gift list for many of my female friends. I highly recommend it.

Editor Nicki Richesin generously shared her time answering a few questions for readers at Mother Daughter Book Club. Here’s the interview:

NickiRichesin

How did you decide to put together an anthology of women writing about their mothers and daughters?

NR: After I had my daughter, I wanted to create a book about mothers and daughters and this fascinating, complicated relationship they share. I think after her birth, I finally recognized for the first time what it means to be a mother. A mother’s love means devotion, selflessness, sacrifice and of course, so much more. So I decided to ask my contributors “What would you tell your mother or daughter if you could tell her anything?” They’re so many things we’re not willing to say out loud or confess to ourselves. I thought wouldn’t it be freeing to finally confess them. For some of the contributors, it’s too late. Their mothers have passed away and they missed their chance. For them, writing their essays was really an opportunity to finally express how they felt about their mothers.

What were you looking for when seeking women to contribute essays?

NR: The short answer is: talent and the courage to share their private lives. I was lucky to have a network of writers to draw from in my first anthology THE MAY QUEEN. I approached a number of writers I had long admired and wanted to include in TMQ like Anne Marie Feld (I devotedly read her journal on Babycenter.com each week when I was pregnant with my own daughter) Tara Bray Smith (I adored her memoir West of Then) Katrina Onstad (I was a fan of her writing in the National Post) and Kaui Hart Hemmings (I gobbled up her short story collection and thought The Descendents was absolutely brilliant).
I was excited to feature new talents like Katherine Center and Lucia Orth. I also enjoyed working with heavyweights like Jacquelyn Mitchard, Karen Joy Fowler, and Susan Wiggs. It was very humbling and inspiring to work with all of the writers.

What would you say makes this collection of essays stand out?

NR: All of the contributors were incredibly brave in exposing intimate details from their personal lives. Although it wasn’t easy, and for some it was actually quite painful, they courageously share the truth of their own experiences. I think this anthology is a tribute to how difficult it can be to accept the ones we love the most. The thread that runs throughout the collection is this idea that despite our mothers’ best efforts- whatever they had to deal with- we remain hopeful for them, for our daughters, and ourselves.

There are so many aspects of mother-daughter relationships covered in Because I Love Her. Were you surprised that each writer had such a different perspective on the topic?

NR: Not at all. In fact, I had hoped to provide a vast array of perspectives. I would have been very disappointed if they had shared the same experiences. I wouldn’t say the content has surprised me, but the public’s reaction has floored me. Although I knew the writings are powerful, I was amazed by the audience’s response at our recent readings. I found it touching they were so deeply moved in this way by their work. One woman bravely shared how the anthology resonated with her. She confessed that her mother had been an alcoholic and she still felt trapped in her sixteen-year-old relationship with her- angry and confused. She broke down weeping with the memory of wanting so desperately to love her mother and it just proved once again how powerful this connection can truly be.

What are you most happy about in the way the collection came together?

NR: I’ve been absolutely thrilled by our readers’ response to the work and how moved they’ve been by it. It has been a great honor to work with such amazing writers and come to know a few of them personally. I really wanted to create a collection that showed the true nature of the mother-daughter bond and I think, in the end, I achieved that goal. I hope the book accomplishes two things. 1.) I hope women will discover who their mothers truly are and 2.) It will open a dialogue between mothers and daughters, especially estranged ones.

I understand you’re working on a father-daughter anthology. Can you tell us a bit about that and when we can expect to see it in print?

NR: WHAT I WOULD TELL HER: 30 MALE WRITERS ON THE FATHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP will be available May 2010, just in time for Father’s Day. I’ve been overwhelmed by the powerful writing I have read thus far. This father-daughter connection is so important to little girls in forming their own identities and of course, it sets the standard for all of their relationships with men going forward. I have seen this with my own daughter- how much she looks to my husband for guidance. In my mind, fathers are the most important men in their daughters’ lives. I think fathers feel a strong need to protect and defend their daughters- a warrior impulse, maybe. Men also worship their daughters in a very sweet and tender way.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers of Mother-Daughter Book Club?

NR: When we did events in the San Francisco bay area, I saw firsthand how deeply this book has moved the readers. We’ve had readings, in which women were weeping and had to pass around a box of Kleenex. This is a stirring topic and can bring up unresolved issues for women. It can make them face their regrets, but also offers redemption. We all love our mothers, no matter what pressures they faced, we can forgive them and honor them this Mother’s Day. Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts on the anthology with your readers!

Nicki Richesin is the editor of four anthologies, Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond; What I Would Tell Her: 30 Male Writers on the Father-Daughter Relationship (May 2010); the forthcoming Crush: Real-life Tales of First Love Gone Wrong by our Best Young Adult Novelists; and The May Queen: Women on Life, Work, and Pulling it all Together in your Thirties. Her anthologies have been excerpted and praised in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Redbook, Parenting, Cosmopolitan, Bust, Daily Candy, and Babble. She lives with her husband and daughter in northern California. For more about Nicki and her anthologies, visit www.nickirichesin.com.

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