Book Review

Mother Daughter Me.
Hafner, Katie (Author)
Jul 2013. 288 p. Random, hardcover, $26.

When Hafner’s octogenarian mother, Helen, is no longer able to care for her ailing life partner in her San Diego home, Hafner hatches a brilliant plan: move Helen to San Francisco to live with her and her teenaged daughter, Zoe. It seems like an ideal scenario. Hafner will have a chance to mend the tears in the fabric of her prickly relationship with her mother, whose years raising her daughter were marked by alcohol-fueled bouts of rage. And Zoe will become better acquainted with a grandmother she’s never really known. But immediately Zoe has concerns, namely, what will happen to her strong bond with her mom. (Since Zoe’s father died of a heart attack at 45, Zoe and her mother have grown remarkably close.) “Zoe doesn’t simply tell me everything,” says Hafner, “she entrusts me with her fragile heart.” Veteran journalist Hafner writes with compassion and wit about the often uneasy alliances between mothers and daughters and the surprising ways in which relationships can be redeemed even late in life.

— Allison Block