Writer Katie Hafner has published half a dozen books, lives in San Francisco, and is close to her teenage daughter, Zoe. It sounds like any mother’s dream come true.
Not so fast.
When Hafner’s mother Helen is in her eighties and can no longer take care of her longterm partner, Hafner suggests that Helen move in with Zoe and her. Three generations under one room is hardly a novel idea, but Hafner and her mother haven’t always been very close.
In fact, when Hafner and her sister were young, they lived with their father after their parents divorced. Helen was an alcoholic, something that Jewish families usually don’t talk about.
Added to this dynamic, Zoe is a teenager and used to her mother’s undivided attention. It’s difficult when her grandmother–a woman she barely knows–moves in and starts asserting her (often unfiltered) opinion.
And on top of that, Katie’s husband and Zoe’s father died suddenly from a heart attack at the age of 45 some years before Helen moves in.
What I loved about Mother Daughter Me (Random House, 2013) is that Katie Hafner leaves no question unanswered. She writes with honesty and shares her experience no matter how painful or difficult.
The story doesn’t conclude on a low note, but it’s also not a Disney ending. It’s real and shows that people can overcome just about anything.