American Daughter: Discovering My Mother (Paperback)

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In this beautifully crafted book, Elizabeth Kendall tells the story of a family, of a passionate attachment between a mother and a daughter and the sudden tragedy that tears it apart. American Daughter is also a brilliant portrait of wellborn women's lives in cities and towns in the post-World War II era, as Kendall evokes how difficult it was to become anything other than an American daughter, which meant being a dependent woman.
Occupying a coveted place in St. Louis's privileged high society, Henry and Betty Kendall seemed to be the American dream come true: six children, a sprawling house, a legacy of higher education at Harvard and Vassar. Yet underneath lay the flawed marriage of an idealistic young woman who made her eldest daughter her best friend and turned civil rights into her salvation. Elizabeth maintained the family silence as eccentricities began to appear in her father's behavior, along with whispers of financial difficulties. She accompanied her mother back to Vassar for a summer program on the home and family, then came into her own, away from her family, at the haven of a girls' summer camp and at Radcliffe. From the war-torn 1940s, when young men in uniform, home on leave, went to debutante parties, through the seismic social changes of the 1960s, Kendall tells the intertwined story of her mother and herself, of their powerful bond and how both shaped their lives in response to it.
Unrelentingly honest, rich with humor and insights into families and women's lives, American Daughter is both a poignant portrait of American life at the middle of the twentieth century, and a dual coming-of-age story of a mother and a daughter, united by commitment andlove, separated by a fatal accident-and by the vastly different birthrights of their generations.

"From the Hardcover edition.


Publisher Random House (NY)
Mfg Part# 9780812992106
SKU 30821144
Format Paperback
ISBN10 0812992105
Release Date 4/10/2007
Dimensions (in Inches) 8.75H x 5.75L x 0.5T
"AMERICAN DAUGHTER both owes much and loses much to the accident that inspired it. Otherwise unremarkable passages in Kendall family history acquire gravity from the always looming death of its matriarch, and yet the author's inability to 'let her be meaninglessly gone' seems to have forced Elizabeth Kendall to conclude that her mother's life had been sacrificed to family long before it was lost by the side of a road. Or is the accident one of projection? 'It was the flood of babies that turned me into a lost soul' (emphasis mine). When Kendall recounts her early years, she consistently reveals herself to be the eldest child who never recovers from the compounded insult of having to share her mother with one and then another sibling."
From the Publisher
Annotation The author of this memoir was inextricably close to her mother when she was a girl, but when she survived a car accident that killed her mother, she suppressed the grief and guilt she felt for decades. Only when the author's own life started fray did she begin writing this memoir, which seeks to recapture her mother's life by examining her journals, her relationship to the author's father, and her love for her children.
Excerpt It is raining and the sky is dark gray. Seen from above, the road is shiny as a canal; the car seems to be skating straight down it. A gas station with a turquoise canopy comes into view on the opposite side of the road. The car slows, crosses the highway, and pulls in by the gas pumps. The right passenger door opens. A young woman gets out and lifts her face to the rain as the attendant puts the gas nozzle into the car's tank. The woman jumps up and down in place. The attendant removes the nozzle and replaces it in the gas pump. The young woman circles around the car's front and gets in on the driver's side. The car heads off again, picking up speed down the slick highway.
First Line LONE BLUE CAR WITH SUITCASES STRAPPED ON top is heading south on Highway 61, the two-lane highway that cuts north and south through the low, flat fields of southern Missouri.
Product Attributes
eBooks Kobo
Book Format Paperback
Number of Pages 0260
Publisher Random House (NY)
$16.65 + $2.98 shipping
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Format: Paperback
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