More ugly family secrets are revealed here, though this confessional is tempered by moving memories of the authors'...


MY MAMA'S WALTZ: A Book for Daughters of Alcoholic Mothers

More ugly family secrets are revealed here, though this confessional is tempered by moving memories of the authors' experiences. Agnew (English/Georgia Southern Univ.) and Robideaux (Writing/Univ. of Missouri, Columbia) are, of course, daughters of alcoholic mothers whose childhoods were miasmas of abuse and humiliation. Estimates are that there are 11 million more women like them. The authors placed ads in local newspapers to ferret out some of them, and 200 of the women who responded filled out extensive questionnaires, while a few cooperated with lengthy telephone or personal interviews. The research and the authors' personal experiences show that an alcoholic mother is a source of greater shame and humiliation than an alcoholic father: ""a double standard endures as much for alcoholism as for sex."" More effort is made to keep the secret in the family, depriving the children of outside comfort and support. The first part of the book is devoted to painful anecdotes of drunken mothers at their best and at their worst, the second and third parts to the consequences of growing up with angry and bitter mothers who took their pain out on their children. The daughters' problems include alcoholism, drug abuse, and eating disorders, as well as ongoing difficulties with relationships with men (an attraction to ""bad boys"" is common), other women (if you can't trust your mother, how can you trust a girlfriend?), and their own children (for instance, the urge to fill their own emptiness with a baby's love). In closing, the book looks at feelings, frequently of relief, about the often terrible deaths of the alcoholic mothers as well as encouragement and advice on ""building happy lives."" Most telling are the lengthy and poignant reminiscences of the two authors--set apart in italics throughout the book--about their individual childhoods and struggles as adults. Tragic tales with uplifting endings, best suited for other daughters of alcoholic mothers, who will welcome the company.

Pub Date: March 18, 1998


Page Count: 313

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1998

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