SHADOW DAUGHTER by Harriet Brown


A Memoir of Estrangement
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A personal look at why adult children isolate themselves from their parents and other family members.

Verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse are just some of the reasons why adult children distance themselves from their parents and relatives. Often, they have endured years of conflict, consistently attempting to do the right thing by remaining connected to their core family only to finally realize the best solution to this near-impossible scenario is to cut off all contact with the offender(s). In her latest book, Brown (Public Communications/Syracuse Univ.; Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight—and What We Can Do About It, 2015, etc.) shares her story of estrangement with her abusive mother, giving readers details on the numerous attempts she made to appease her, with little success. It was only when she realized her own life and those of her daughters were more valuable than her relationship with her mother that she managed to break free. Even then, she suffered from guilt and conflict as other members of her family tried to get her to reconcile her differences with her mother. Brown shares numerous other stories of children distancing themselves from family and explores the complex issues that this taboo act creates for both the separator and the separated. Family holidays, particularly Christmas, are often difficult to navigate. Our inherent nature is to be social, especially with blood relatives. As infants, we cling to our mothers for survival, so to go against these deep feelings takes courage and stamina and the ability to overcome loneliness and the possible shame of disrupting a dynamic that is often taken for granted. Brown’s research and anecdotes help readers understand the many dilemmas involved in engaging in estrangement and offer support for those balancing on the edge of making this life-changing decision.

A concise, readable examination of the hows and whys of family separations.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-7382-3453-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Da Capo
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2018


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