Motherland by Elissa Altman


"I'm reading this book right now and loving it!"--Cheryl Strayed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of WildHow can a mother and daughter who love (but don't always like) each other coexist without driving each other crazy? "A wry and moving meditation on aging and the different kinds of love between women."--O: The Oprah Magazine ("2019's Best LGBTQ Books")After surviving a traumatic childhood in nineteen-seventies New York and young adulthood...

Details Motherland

Release DateAug 6th, 2019
PublisherBallantine Books
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, LGBT

Reviews Motherland

  • Donna Hines
    Can opposites attract? Can a narcissistic mother truly love? Can the narc daughter every truly be herself under the confines of this unsteady, turbulent, egotistical relationship?Can you truly have a maternal bond when the maternal aspect is missing?Having a mother of the same magnitude I can tell you the answer is NO!Narc mothers only truly love one person themselves.In fact both my narc parents are elderly and in need of assistance and as the d...
  • Peter Zheutlin
    Elissa Altman is the rare writer who seems to produce a gem with every sentence. Her prose is pitch-perfect and her eye for the telling detail is keen. Though her relationship with her narcissistic mother is difficult, and she's often on the receiving end of small, if not always intentional cruelties, her love and devotion to this vain and complex woman are heroic. Through it all Altman's wry humor and wit remain intact. This is a book of enormou...
  • Lisa
    Motherland is a memoir by Elissa Altman about her relationship with her mother Rita, a former television singer. She talks about her time growing up with her and the relationship she has with her now. I have a tense relationship with my own mother and I related to a lot of what Elissa Altman wrote about in her book. There were parts that angered me, made me laugh and several that made me sad. This is a story about how life comes full circle and h...
  • Robert Sheard
    On the sentence level, this is fine. But structurally, it's repetitive and doesn't really arrive at the profound revelations all the hype suggests. Altman's mother is a horrible person. She is shallow, vain, narcissistic, childish, and cruel. And while Altman claims she's achieved independence from her mother, literally nothing in the book is evidence of that. She allows her mother to be awful and she caters to her every petty whim. The definitio...
  • Alissa
    Note: Thank you to NetGalley, from whom I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.Elissa Altman is a wonderful writer in the sense that with her words he enables the reader to fully picture the scenes, the people, the places about which she writes. In this case, I do feel like I know Elissa's parents, step-parents, Gaga (grandmother). I feel like I can picture both her mother's NYC apartment and Elissa's Connecticut cot...
  • Sara D
    This memoir lays bare Elissa Altman's troubled relationship with her mother. I am from the upbringing that dictates "no one bad-mouths my mother but me", So you can listen to me complain about my mother as long as I want to rant, but you had better not chip in, because that's my mother! So, I find it difficult here to say anything about Altman's mother, but I don't have to, because I am the gentle listener to her incredibly well-written, well-art...
  • Amanda
    I was interested to read this book after hearing Altman speak about it on a podcast. What really piqued my curiosity was her description of her mother as a narcissist, but one who loved her.Having a mother with similar issues, my experience has been that you can never make them happy, nothing is ever enough, and they aren't really capable of genuine love or care, so I wondered what made Altman think this.She's certainly a good writer, but I found...
  • Stacie Saurer
    **I received a Kindle version of this book as a Goodreads giveaway.**As someone with her own complicated mother-daughter relationship, this book hit home. I look at others with these magical, my-mom-is-my-best-friend experiences and can't help but feel like something is missing in my own life. Like Altman, I could never completely cut the cord and will always find my mother's life intertwined with my own. Altman's descriptions of her mom sometime...
  • Alice
    Motherland is far more than just the memoir of a mother-daughter relationship. Elissa Altman’s complex story and oft-times obsessive connection to a sometimes-demonic narcissist of a mother is both an addiction in its own right; and a compulsively seductive story of passionate love, concealed rage, disappointment and a yearning for redemption. This spectacularly well written tale of profound connection is clearly a relationship that needed to b...
  • KMcd
    I won this as a free giveaway in exchange for an honest review through good reads, compliments of the publisher. This was my first read from Elissa Altman and it surely will not be my last. The quality of her writing is astounding. I was initially outraged and furious while reading, but quickly realized that in actuality, this books is heartbreaking. I feel many reviews may reflect the subject matter and the readers’ personal feelings of Altman...
  • Mirna Valerio
    This book makes you look both critically and lovingly into your parent-child relationship. It inspires you to consider why a person behaves/lives/exists in the way that they do, and how that informs their sphere and all those who come into contact. While it is a difficult story to read, the constant yearning for a different kind of daughter or one that lives up to expectations that are from a different time and experience, the prose and pacing is...
  • Lauren Archer
    This quick book is witty and poignant. I enjoyed hearing Elissa’s perspective on the mother daughter relationship.For my full review, please visit my blog at: NetGalley and Ballentine Books for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • Lucy Burdette
    Elissa Altman tells the astonishing and poignant story of her troubled relationship with a narcissistic mother. It's beautifully written--alternately funny and tragic. I loved it.
  • kglibrarian (Karin Greenberg)
    After hearing Elissa Altman being interviewed by Zibby Owens for her podcast Mom's Don't Have Time to Read Books (I highly recommend it if you like books), I was compelled to read Motherland to find out more about this fascinating author.In this honest, poetic memoir, Altman catalogues her dysfunctional relationship with her mother, who was semi-famous earlier in her life. Singing on TV shows and in popular New York City clubs, Rita made it clear...
  • Kristina Elias
    * I was provided with an advanced e-book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. "Give me your shorts. The pleated ones." "You hate pleats." "GIVE ME YOUR SHORTS OR I WILL KILL MYSELF."I felt badly about giving MOTHERLAND 2.5 stars. Clearly, Elissa Altman's story was a difficult one to tell, but the way she wrote it undercut her sad and dramatic story. Altman's story is about her mother and her obsession with her own beauty. Beginning at ...
  • Sarah
    I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own.This memoir was kind of undersung this year, which is a bit of a shame, because it's a really compelling read. Altman's prose is beautiful, and the subject matter is difficult to write about, but she does it extremely well. This is the story of a codependent mother and daughter, the former of which is narcissistic to an extreme, the latter of which is our n...
  • Lori
    This memoir-of-sorts was actually quite well-written, but the genre of abused child/parent relationship is just getting a bit tired. There are so many modern variations on this theme--the Glass Castle books, the "Child Called It", etc. that I'm just not sure what can be added that hasn't already been said. One thing that interests me, to a degree, is when the narrator gains insight into how they played into the abuse as a willing part of the cycl...
  • Alison Hammer
    My dad and I read this book together when I was in town visiting him over a long weekend. It inspired a lot of great conversations about our family, because his father, my grandfather, was married to Rita. Ben in the book, Buddy in real life, it was really interesting to read a story that intersected with my own family's story. I was just a child at the time they were married, but their relationship and the fallout with my dad and his sisters is ...
  • Lauren DePino
    I just love Elissa Altman's beautiful, unpretending depiction of her complex relationship with her mother in MOTHERLAND. Amid the difficult moments (which if we are honest, all of us experience them with our mothers), love overwhelms. Elissa tells her story with an enormous heart, one I’ve learned from and will continue to learn from when I encounter difficult situations with the people I love.There were many passages I starred. Here is just on...
  • Judy G
    This is her story Elissa altman or Lissie as her mother called her. This is about her the author and her mother whose name I just forget tho I finished the book yesterday. Ok she is Rita. A quintessential narcissist. As I read this book about her life with her mother and with her wife and also with her father when he was married to Rita and then after. How did this woman survive her mother and be able to live her life in her own way? I was fascin...
  • Katie Devine
    Elissa Altman's gorgeous new memoir, Motherland (her third) was the exact blend of poetry and love story I very much needed this week. “My mother is beauty and she is music, and I love her to my bones. If she is broken, we are both broken. If she is whole, we are whole.”This most primal of relationships, the most fierce and complex and formative and damaging and abiding, is mined through Altman's most intimate memories and rendered through a ...
  • Terry
    WHEW!!!!! WOW - So this book takes you through the trials and tribulations of a mother-daughter relationship that may indeed sound familiar to some! A bit heart wrenching at times, and riddled with an unbridled honesty about this relationship; a relationship, that is for most of us daughters, dysfunctional. We yearn for a love from our mothers that is unconditional, though the majority do not understand that concept. Many mothers have bear their ...
  • Julie
    Thank you to the publisher who provided me with a free digital copy of MOTHERLAND won through a Goodreads giveaway. Altman’s prose is beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her words. Even more impressive is the characterization of her mother that creates a larger-than-life, memorable picture of a complex woman. I applaud Altman’s bravery in so openly analyzing her fraught relationship with her mother and the intimacies of her own inner ...
  • Lisa Cobb Sabatini
    I won a copy of Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing by Elissa Altman from Goodreads.Blessed AND cursed are the tires that bind a daughter to her mother, and in her book, Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing, author Elissa Altman explores the often contradictory feelings of her relationship with her own mother. Drawing in the reader immediately and never letting go, the writer shared her story with a narrative that i...
  • deborah schiff
    For anyone who was moved by Educated, this soonto be released memoir is a must read. It exploresthe power that love bestows, as well as the powerlessness that same love can create. Theintensity of the struggle for independence, to createa life that belongs to oneself, will leave you withan emotional workout and will provide a great opportunity for some introspection. Anyone who isan only child, a daughter, a mother or is caring for an aging paren...
  • Kelly
    I don't remember where I got the recommendation to read this book. When I first started reading it, I thought I'd drop it after the first chapter, but I found myself strangely compelled to go forward. That turned out to be a rewarding decision. Altman writes about her extremely codependent and dysfunctional relationship with her pretty awful mother in a thoughtful and compassionate way. I don't know that I could manage such sympathy to someone so...
  • Kristi
    I enjoy reading about dysfunctional families, so reading about this mother and daughter who have a deeply dysfunctional, yet fascinating relationship should’ve been satisfying. However, the organization (or lack thereof) of the essays (and the repetition of some of the same stories) left me lost and confused at times. The essays seemed to be in random order - maybe there was some master plan; if so, it was completely lost to me. I also found th...
  • Licia Morelli
    Elissa Altman delivers once again. From start to finish, Motherland allows us a peek inside the inner workings of a complicated and heart tugging mother/daughter relationship. Altman's voice transports us into an immediate understanding of her world, both inner and outer, and the emotions that run as a through line between her and her mother. Through humor, wit, grit, grace and pure will, Altman shows us how to navigate towards clarity within one...
  • Linda
    Not a particularly interesting or well written book. The author seems to ramble on with stories that are not interesting and repetitive. This memoir is mainly about a dysfunctional mother daughter relationship with undertones of anger. Many times in the book she repeats the same stories over and over such as the mother buying red lipstick or her obsession with make up. There certainly is not a lot of subject matter in this book to write a complet...
  • Penny
    Thank you Goodreads for the win! Motherland is more than a memoir of a mother and daughter relationship. Elissa Altman is a great writer. You clearly picture the people, scenes, and the places she writes about. I'm sure this was a very difficult story for her to tell. Her mother was an obsessive and narcissistic personality. I felt much sadness for the hurt and abuse Elissa endured. Her loyalty and love goes far beyond what her mother deserves.