Talk to Alyse
I would love to hear from you. Tell me what you think of my book, your relationship with your mother, the memoirs you're reading or have read — and anything else you want to talk about. Click here to start an email.
"Who Do You Think You Are? was amazing. I also have had a tough relationship with my mother my entire life. I have thought about writing a book over the years but never felt the time was right until I read the last line of yours. I felt like you were telling me to write mine already! I read an artcle about your book in Cosmo in May 2008. I bought your book while holiday shopping in December 2008. I read it last month, in three days—what was I waiting for?! The timing fit into my life. I laughed and cried throughout your book, and realized that maybe I can help others, like me, by sharing my story. I started my "thank you" list and will start writing soon. You are on my list—for making it a reality. Your book really changed my life. "
"I have just read your book with very great interest and the conclusion was very surprising. The discussion at the conclusion helped to explain the very complex relationship between you and your mother. However, what really intrigues me about your book is we know none of the names of any of the characters (apart from your own as author and you didn't even mention that in the text). We do not know the names of your father or mother, your grandparents, uncle or aunts nor your sisters; not even your husband or your own daughter. This is very unusual and I am sure you must have a reason for withholding the names of your relatives, and I wonder just what it is. I am 76-year-old English Christian writer and have never read a book quite like yours. "
"I just finished your book, Who Do You Think You Are. I love to read, especially books on human tragedy, dysfunctional families, mysteries—the list is long. I grew up in the projects in Brooklyn, N.Y. What a dump it turned into. Our mothers sound like they could have been sisters. Yet in my house, three strong adult women and one brother came out of such a mess of a childhood. Reading your book was like reading my own words. The anger, the fighting, the abusive language. The one difference was that my mother was a functioning alcoholic. My mother was raised in a Catholic home for about 10 years after her own mother had a nervous breakdown. My mother's father did not know what to do with his six children. They only left the Catholic home in Staten Island where they were placed as they came of age. A few settled in Long Island City for a short time.
I tried to forgive my mother later in life for the abuse she passed on to my brother and sisters. At her wake, I had a sense of relief that I no longer would have to take care of her. I was weighed down with chores and other household duties from age 8. Sadly, I have no good memories of my childhood. But I have given my son the exact opposite of what my mother gave me My mother was not capable of showing love. My son also knew a different grandma from the mother I was raised with.
When you wrote about the ironing, I was OMG, can this book get any better? My mother ironed for hours on end and taught us all to iron. In a way ironing was her way to relax. I enjoyed this book immensely and will be passing it to my older sister, then my younger one. Thank you for your book and for opening your life to many who can relate to the same situation. I guess you either follow the same path, or you go in a different one. Thankfully we all went in another direction. Also your title called out to me from across all the books in the store and slapped me in the face. Those were my mother's exact words to me. Although I was not close with my sisters when we were young, that all changed as adults. Many aspects of this book I related to. Thank you for writing it, I felt like I was looking in a mirror at times. Like you, I also love the works of Frank Mccourt. I have enjoyed all his books and was so happy to have attended his book signin. I thought my growing up was bad until I read Angela's Ashes. What a inspiration."
"It is approximately 12:27 p.m. on March 28, 2010 and I just turned the last page to your memoir Who Do You Think You Are? I sat still and wept. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing your experience about your relationship with your mother. I am currently in an estranged relationship with my mother—I don’t like my mother and I certainly don’t love her. I’m finally in a place where I have accepted what has come of our relationship and at age 42, I’ve never been happier. However, reading your story brought back many painful memories; many that I had placed out of my immediate recall. You first caught my attention during your interview on The View last May and I ordered your memoir to read and share with those close to me. Many struggled with the fact that I divorced my mother. Here is where our story differs: Both my mother and father are alive and to this very day, my mother continues to carry that same hate in her heart that pushed me away from her nearly seven years ago. I don’t speak to her at all and as a result, I have lost touch with my father. I’ve always hoped that my life would end before my parents'; my fear is having to deal with any arrangements, as I am an only child. I pray to God I live “one day short of their passing.” Thank you Ms. Myers, for showing me that I am not alone. Blessings and balance to you and your family!"
"Who Do You Think You Are? was a great read for me. I loved that you wanted to create a relationship with your mother as two civilized adults, and that you both ended up putting in effort despite the past. I am 13 years old, and I often fight with my mother. She always tells me that I love to start fights, even though a good majority of the arguments we have are the arguments she starts. Sometimes I feel impatient and I say things that I don't think about before they come out of my mouth, and at those times my mom switches between two different approaches: a "patient mother" approach, during which she tries to reason with me, and an "angry mother" approach, during which she begins screaming and cursing at me and orders me to go to my room. During fights, she likes to bring up my flaws - kind of like how your mother threw your secrets back at you after you told her something that was important to you. I try to remember that my mom has had a tough life. I am a fraternal twin, and my mom had no idea she was going to have children at all before my sister and me, as she was currently dating a man at her workplace, my dad, and wasn't expecting anything like that to happen to her. Of course we don't always hate each other, but lately the fighting has been a regular pattern. Sometimes I can't wait to leave. I'm really glad you wrote your book and decided to tell the truth about what really happened in your childhood. I'm even afraid to tell my friends. Thank you for doing this for those who have difficulty admitting what our relationships with family are like—maybe I'll write a book on that, too. I've always wanted to be a writer, since I was about six. Thank you, thank you."
"I record The View everyday and when I watched the show last night and saw you I could not believe what came out of your mouth, I actually rewound it twice to make sure I heard you correctly. You took away my guilt feelings of not liking my mother and it's OK that I feel that way and I'm not alone. I am a married, 54-year-old African-American woman with one child. I have not spoken to my mother in 14 years. It got to the point that when I heard her voice on the phone the bottom of my stomach would drop. It came down to my sanity or trying to get along with her. My son doesn't know his one and only grandmother. My sister who lives in another state gets along with her just fine. My sister and I don't talk either. My mother is a total control freak, and it's either her way or the highway—so I took the highway. Her own brother (before he died) told me that everyone just agrees with her so that she will shut up and leave them be. Her opinion is the only opinion, and don't you dare try and state your opinion on anything. She's 79 years old and she isn't going to change and I accept that. I sent her a Mother's Day card this year—have you ever tried to find a Mother's Day card that doesn't have "I Love You" on it somewhere? Not an easy task, I'm here to tell you. I plan on getting your book this weekend, and from the reviews it sounds like I won't be able to put it down."
"This book was my life. At some points I had to put this book down and digest everything that I was reading. But I finished the book in one day. I still have a rocky relationship with my mother and I'm thinking about sending her a copy of this book—but I'm not sure if that's a good idea. I have a 16-year-old daughter, and she hardly sees her grandmother who lives five minutes away. The part about the mother taking the diary, this is exactly what happened to me. Such betrayal for a mother to read your intimate thoughts and then throw them in your face. Could not stop crying for everything that I lost in my childhood. Dysfunction at its finest. Finally I feel that someone out there understands me. Thank you for the gift of writing this book! There are many daughters out there that need to read this book! "
"Your memoir, my memoir. How is it possible we have the same Mother when I am an only child and don't even have the same family name? I intended to read your book in one sitting. I couldn't. It flooded my senses. I had to put it down every few pages to catch my breath, overwhelmed by painful childhood memories of a failed relationship with my own Mother. No one who has actually survived this trauma (and remained sane) could breeze through this book in one sitting. Your writing style is achingly on the mark, much like Roberta Flack singing Killing Me Softly. Thank you so much for having the courage to write our autobiography without any help from me. I will always be grateful."
"My wife and I both read and LOVED your book. Wanted you to know we were both deeply moved by it. Each of us identified strongly with your feelings as decribed so well. Keep writing!"
"I couldn't wait to get your book to read. I saw you when you were on The View. When I got your book I couldn't put it down. I related to your story in your growing up years to a point. I was very interrested what happened in your high school years and after. The ending maked me cry. I have told all my friends about the book. Thankyou for sharing!"
"I bought your book last night, after writing to you in the afternoon, and read it in two hours. Then after 10 minutes, I burst into tears. I was admiring your resilience through your traumatic childhood, and teen years, and wondering why I couldn't have been so strong. I also admired your ability to commit to a relationship and marriage, where I was only able to commit after a ton of failed, miserable relationships at the age of 38 and two years of therapy. Most of all, I was in awe of your ability to shake off your mother's backhanded comments after you left her house, permanently. I'm still not there. I haven't lived with my parents since I was 18, and found that my mother's constant screaming, abuse, and hatred dissolved my self-esteem by the age of five. I am working on getting past it, but I'm still so angry. I'm still not able to let all the anger go. The final thing that may tear me and her apart, was the fact that my father underwent a quadruple bypass and over one of the toughest Canadian winters, my mother went to India for six months, leaving him alone. I went back and forth taking care of him, and can't bring myself to talk to her. I feel like a monster because at the moment I hate her so much it is unbelievable. I wonder EVERY DAY if I would have been a different person if she had been a remotely kinder, and less selfish mother. But then I wonder if I, like you, poured it all into my writing. I, also, like you, watched (and watch) enormous amounts of TV, read a huge amount and wrote it all down. It was my outlet/escape/and necessity. After seeing your interview on The View, and writing to you in the afternoon, and realizing I was not alone, I feel like a whole person again. I just wish I'd had the strength to cut myself out of her world when I had the chance, but also, like you, I found it really difficult to let go of my family. It's taken me this long to realize that perhaps it is a necessary evil."
"I saw you on The View and rushed right out to buy your book—the last copy in the the store. I loved it and couldn't put it down! I originally bought the book for my mother to help her with her difficult relationship with my grandmother. I thought I should read it first so we could discuss it. I was surprised how many emotions came back to me from my own childhood...I had almost forgotten about those painful years. I never heard anyone else sum up my childhood so well..."like living two lives..." My mother was almost not invited to my first wedding. I am happily married now for the second time and have a 2 year old son. I got married the first time to get out of my mother's house...I couldn't wait. I wasn't brave enough to know that I could escape on my own. Our relationship is ok now but know that it could turn on a dime if I decide to bring up the past. Love really is a choice. I didn't expect your book to end the way it did after reading the first sentence. Thank you for being brave enough to write it all down. I look forward to your next book!"
"Thank you, thank you for writing this book. I read it in one sitting on a quiet Sunday morning with a cup of coffee at my side. You articulated so well what I've felt and experienced throughout my life. I no longer feel alone or weird or spiteful or any of those other words that have come my way. Again, thank you."
"I saw you promoting your book on The View recently and felt compelled to write you. Even though I haven't read your book yet (I'm on the waiting list at my local library), the mere idea that it's alright to say publicly that one doesn't have to like one's mother is so liberating! My mother was abusive to me all my life but very nice to my siblings. Other people would swear she's a saint. She also made a habit of telling anyone who would listen that I was a bad, disobedient daughter, and being Chinese, that's a crime. When I tried to tell other people, I was generally shut-down. There's an accepted ideal that mothers are all sacrificing and loving, and that it's sacrilegious to say anything bad about your mother. We even have a childhood song celebrating the virtues of motherhood that starts, "Only mothers are good in the world..." My father was weak and very traditional, and did not protect me (that's another story). I'm in my 50's now and over the years I've found that it's no use telling anyone who's a family friend, a relative, or to people who have good relationships with their parents. It's usually met with "let by-gones be by-gones," "forgive and forget" and similar platitudes. They're not professional therapists and not distant enough to accept my truth, or just not able to relate. My mother died in 1991. It took therapy and ongoing soul searching for me to accept the fact that she simply had an awful personality. Unfortunately I was the victim of her bullying, mainly because I'm the least bit like her. My siblings are very much like her personality-wise. It's something in the DNA. I chose to remain single and childless. If I had children and they turned out to be like my mother, that would be like serving a life sentence without any hope of parole. No, thanks. While many books have been written about abusive fathers, not so for abusive mothers. It's like a deep, dark secret that most people are uncomfortable to explore but it's actually very widespread. Thank you for your courage."
"I started your book one evening at 7pm, ate while reading and did not stop until midnight. I could not put it down. Such an easy ready, well not really, but your writing is simple but not simple. I did want you to know I am buying several copies to give to girlfriends with mother issues. I know they will also get much out of the experiences in your book. My own mother (and father) put me into a orphanage when I was 7 years of age. I did not live with her again until I was age 16. She was highly critical and I did not ever feel she had any warmth or nurturing abilities and have never loved or liked her, even to this day. She is 89 and very frail and in ill health now. She's also emotionally pitiful and says only that she did the best she could and her minister has forgiven her. My mother only remembers the bad things (in her mind) about me and none of the good things, no matter how many times I asked her about myself and her story she never could be positive. She did have her own very sad childhood, which is one of the biggest secrets on her side of the family that I learned from my father's mother. There is much more to my story, but your book made me feel that I could write My Story, if nothing else but for myself. So I have highlighted and written notes throughout your book so that I can go back and write something about how I felt when I read those parts. Somehow it will be written down, and in the process I can heal those hurt parts of my life and heal the loss of my childhood. Thank you so much for sharing your difficult childhood and saying the words "I did not love my mother" out loud so that society can realize that not everyone is blessed with good parents that are lovable, much less likable."
"It's 2 a.m. in Chicago and I just finished your book in bed as my 8-year-old daughter, an only child, slept next to me. I read it cover to cover in a single sitting. My face is wet. I identified with you and your mom (I smoke). I am also familiar with colostomys—my father had one. I particularly love your first sentence. How brave. It took me years of therapy to admit I didn't like my mother. (A repressed Irish-Catholic here.) Like you, I was determined that my daughter would have a different kind of mother. I picked her up every time she cried, stroked her, and told her how lucky I was to be her mom. I'm 46 years old, and my mom and I get along fine. But only over the phone. She is 85 now, and though and she shouldn't really live alone, I could never have her live with me. My mother had a high school education. I have a Ph.D. She took no notice of my education. I'm passing your book along. My closest friend will love it too. Peace and all good things to you."
— M. W.
"It's not easy as a daughter to admit you despise your mother, nor is it an easy task to make that hatred glisten and rivet. You've managed both in this memoir, which doesn't quite manage heartbreaking but is a love letter to self-control. This is no weepy-memoir. I mean that as the highest praise."
New York City
"I finished this book in less than two days. There is something about the book where I felt it was completely genuine. Despite how her mother treated her, I believe deep down inside she loved her daughter Alyse very much so. A wonderful book which is added to my memoir collection."
— C. A.
"I read Alyse Myers' memoir in two hours. And in those two hours, I entered a life that haunted me, made me laugh, and reminded me that we must find our own path to happiness. Who Do You Think You Are? yanks you into Myers' family, forcing you to feel like another sibling who craves for mom's attention. And that is incredibly powerful: the reader, without preparing herself, becomes another relative to absorb the love, the hate, the humor, the anger, all the while coughing from mom's cigarettes and tapping her foot anxiously, waiting for daddy to come home."
— F. T.
"I read this book and not only questioned my relationship with my own mother, but also my developing relationship with my three daughters—and my relationship with my siblings. The author does not portray herself as a victim. Yet she's not an innocent, either. Her caustic relationship with her mother went both ways, and her aloof relationship with her sisters (did they have names?) must be a memoir for another day. But—I have not been able to stop thinking about the book!"
— M. M.
"I read this book in one sitting, which is something I hardly ever do. It's beautifully written. It made me think of how I am raising my daughter. And it inspired me to try to make things better with my own mother. I didn't expect it to be such a powerful and uplifing story. At the end, I was smiling and crying at the same time."
— L. D. S.
"I thought your book was riveting. It was like reading about my childhood in so many ways. And the end was indeed, the same. Thank you for a beautifully written book."
— Barbara H.
"I just finished devouring your book. It was impossible to put it down. Thank you for it—your story, your prose, your strength. I realize you must hear so many personal stories from your fans who relate to your memoir. I'll spare you the details, but I'll just say that I really relate to your story, with just a couple of minor differences: I didn't grow up in New York and, well, I'm not Jewish. I'm of Asian decent. What amazed me most about your story was your strength and conviction to better yourself despite all that you experienced. I held off on having children until four years ago in my mid-thirties because I was afraid of becoming my mother. There have been days when I wondered if, despite all of my efforts, is it really possible to break the cycle? Your book gave me courage. Perhaps things will not work out between my mother and me. But you've given me hope to keep believing in myself."
"Thank you for this wonderful book! I just finished reading it. It took me one day. I could not put it down. I was drawn to your book because of the title. It reminded me of what my mother always said to me. Ironically, your book reminded me of my mother as I was growing up. I related my experience almost exactly to yours. I am 55 years old, and my mother died of cancer 15 years ago and my father died of cancer 17 years ago. I was not close to my sister and brothers at all. In fact, they always told me I was adopted and alienated me through life. I asked my mother if this were true and she would shrug. But I looked exactly like my dad so I knew it wasn't true. I cared for my dad, but he was an alcoholic. My mother would hiss at me and say to go away because I looked like him. They fought all the time. I rarely remember happy times at home. I hated my time growing up. I felt my mother hated me, and she never hid the fact she hated me. She felt I acted like I was too good for the family which all I wanted was the best in life, and I strived for that. She did love my children very much but never said I did a great job in raising them. She did show love for my siblings and hugged my sister in front of me to hurt me. She never hugged me. She never said a kind word to me. Even planning my wedding, she was bitter and thought it was a chore. So I took care of it myself. But as your book showed, it made you a strong and better person, and that is what happened to me. I always shared my childhood sadness with my children who were amazed, and they always thought I should write a book. They were amazed by the way parents could be, by the way a child could turn out OK. Well, I was amazed reading your book! I shared it with my husband and kids (who are grown) about the similarities. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will treasure this book forever. And yes, it will stay in my heart and mind forever. As my daughter said yesterday, "Why don't you write your memoir?" I just might do that. I hope you will write another book someday. I will be the first to buy it! A new friend."
— Lyn B.
"Your book changed my life. Just one minute ago, I finished reading your memoir. I want you to know, it changed my life completely. I'm 16 years old, by the way. I saw your book mentioned in Cosmopolitan. I read the book's description and thought I HAVE to read this. Your book sounded like something I could connect with because of my relationship with my mother. My mother and I have always fought. She has treated me differently than my sister and criticizes me in every way. She is so negative, always fighting nonstop with my dad. I feel I hate her. So I stopped in at my local bookstore, just browsing. Then there on the shelf in front of me was your book. I picked it up and knew I couldn't put it back. A little while ago my mother came up to see what I was reading, and I had just finished it. I was balling my eyes out and still am. She started hugging me, and I can't explain what happened. Your book has touched me in a way like none other, and it has hit so close to home. It has made me think about my relationship with my mother and about how, when I am grown up, I will likely look back and wish I said something and had a better relationship with her. My mother will never change, but I can , and that is because of you, sharing your life. I sincerely thank you. You have made such an impact on my life, and I'm sure the lives of many others."
— Alyssa J.
"Whew, what a great book, especially, the first line. I don’t like my mother either, and I really hated my father! Because of your book, I feel so much better. To not have to feel guilt and shame anymore from my childhood is so liberating! Out of 8 children, I’m the only one who graduated from college, not as an undergraduate, but a master’s degree in communications. I too love to write and have wanted to expose my real feelings about growing up with an alcoholic father and a cold, distant mother. Maybe one day. At an early age, I felt totally rejected by my parents, and have never felt comfortable in my own skin. Thank god those days are over! When I graduated with a MA, and I told my mother, all she could say was, “Your older sister got a new car,” so you can only imagine the hurt and anger shooting through my veins. All my life I desperately wanted to please my mother and get her approval. But now I know no matter how many degrees I achieve, she will never love me and accept me the way she does my two older sisters. Even though my mother is still alive, we don’t have much to do with each other, and certainly don’t have much to talk about. However, when I do call her, she never asks about me, but complains to me about all her pains and how poor she is. And believe me; she has far more material possessions than me, but no close relationships other than my two sisters. I could go on and on, but I’ll just tell you that I feel the hurt just as you did and can totally identify with you. Luckily, I have a resilient spirit and have worked through all the crap, and have actually become a very generous, compassionate and caring woman. I commend you, and wish you the very best!"
— Cathy T.
"Thank you for such a wonderful memoir. I'm almost to the end of the book, and I've only had it a week. I can see myself in your story, and relate to so much what you went through. My mother and father were both abusive to me mentally, emotionally and physically. I had absolutely no self-esteem or self-worth growing up, which sent me straight into being promiscuous and using drugs and alcohol at an early age. I have three sisters and four brothers I was the middle child. My two oldest sisters were treated very differently than me and my younger sister. My mother played favorites. This was extremely painful for me, resulting in lots of anger, resentment and jealousies. Today I'm not close to any of my siblings, except one of my brothers. My relationships with men have been catastrophic, and I have not married or had children because I did not want to abuse them. I regret not giving birth because I know now that I would be a loving mom. I would love to be in a close relationship with a man, but I don't know if that will ever happen. Thankfully, I was able to seek help and learn to love myself. I think the hardest part for me was completely accepting and loving myself just as I am. Currently, my relationship with my mother is still strained, but I've learned to feel compassion for her and to realize she can't give me what she does not have. My father, however has been dead for 13 years. He was an alcoholic and, of course, I was just like him, as my mother would always point out. Again, I'm so grateful to have women like yourself tell it like it really was, for there is so much healing when you know you're not alone. Blessings."
"I just finished reading your memoir Who Do You Think You Are? Dazzling in its simplicity and its honesty. All I can say is what a gorgeous book and what a gorgeous young woman you must be. That you had the stamina and an irrepressible core to be able to get beyond such a miserably abusive childhood is amazing. I am recommending your stunning memoir to everyone I know. "
— Zoe G.
"I just finished reading your book and I loved it! I couldn't put it down. I have been reading it at work. I kept it in my top desk drawer and read it a page at a time, closing my drawer if I heard someone come down the hall! I am 25 years old and have a terrific relationship with my mother. It was hard at times to read your book—hard for me to understand how a mother could be so mean. But after reading through the whole book, you eloquently made the reasons more clear. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us, I will definitely pass this book along and look forward to reading your next!"
— Jakilyn S.
"Thank you for your book. It brought out so much of my life, my feelings, love, hate and yearning. I thought I was the only one growing up with those feelings. I gave your book to my sister to help her go through her anger. It's better then therapy."
— Leslie S.
"Hi. I am a huge fan. I read your book in one reading, and I absolutely loved it. You see, I too have a very rocky relationship with my mother, and many of the things you wrote about were eerily close to the way I feel every day of my life. You said in your book that you were always jealous of the relationship other girls had with their mothers; I feel the EXACT same way. This email would never end if I wrote you all the awful things she says or does to my older sister and me. I'm so sad a lot of the time, and I don't know how to fix it. It is difficult for my sister and me to be under a roof with a set of parents so dysfunctional that every day feels like mass confusion, sadness and, above all, helplessness. I guess I wanted to write to you to say thank you for your book. It gave me hope that one day I'll be strong enough to deal with my sorrow (and God willing should I one day have a husband and children, that I would never make them feel the way my mother makes me feel). Thank you again. Your book truly changed me."
— Rachel N.
"I can’t thank you enough for your beginning words, 'I didn’t like my mother and I certainly didn’t love her.' I know those aren’t easy words to say. I had a similar relationship with my mother and was estranged from her for the last couple of years of her life. It was a complicated relationship, and after my mother died, I had such strong emotions and guilt to process through. There is nothing in our society that allows for not loving your mother. After my mother died I searched for books on the subject to help me process but found nothing—until now. Just reading your book was like having a conversation with someone who understands; the similarity of our worlds is uncanny. I only wish I could continue the conversation and ask you the many questions flowing through my head. I have yet to find the compassion you seemed to have found for your mother but reading your book has given me another way of looking at mine. Your honest words were powerful, thank you for telling your story. I also want to thank you for the note in the acknowledgments encouraging others to write their stories. I have long thought of writing my story and even took a memoir writing course. I wrote a short piece about my mother but was devastated when the instructor told me my story came across as cold and she couldn’t understand how I could have those feelings toward my mother. She wanted me to change the ending to a happy one, in other words change reality. I have not written anything since, but your story and encouraging words give me second thoughts on writing again."
— Teri B.
"I am the mother of an 11-month old daughter. I just finished reading your book 10 minutes ago and had to write a quick note. I have wanted to write my mother's memoir about her life during the War in Poland and Germany, as it is a fascinating story. I have been to seminars, even had a few things published. But I never really believed in myself enough—or had the commitment—to get it done (I never finished college), even though everyone always told me I have talent. Maybe it is my time. Your book inspired me, moved me and brought tears to my eyes. Amazing. Thank You. Please look out for me sometime in the near future. Wink. Wink."
— Suzanne H.
"I read your book yesterday in one sitting and was moved to say the least. When I read the first line of the prologue and the first sentence of the next paragraph, it was jolting. My relationship (or non-relationship) with my mother was like yours in many ways. She was known in our Bronx neighborhood as the Screaming Lady. I never understood why my mother hated me and I her. When my brother called me to say that she had died, my grief was not because I missed her but because I felt nothing at all. I have been married for 36 years and my four sons are grown and doing well. I'm glad none of my mother rubbed of on me. Again, thank you for the book. Somehow I feel a kind of bond with it and you."
— Bill D.
"Thank you for writing such a great book. I have felt such guilt for so many years because I too have always hated my mother. I love her in some ways, but most of the time I despise her. I am one of three sisters, and I was always my dad's favorite (I still am). Both my parents are alive and well, thank God. Not wanting to leave my dad alone with her, I chose to move on the next block from them. Although they are so close, I have to force myself to go visit. They never come visit me and my boys (I am a single mother). Part of the reason I chose to remain single is because of the relationship my parents had. Like you, I don’t want to depend on anyone for anything. They will "celebrate" their 50th wedding anniversary this November. I am sure they are expecting some kind of party/celebration. I find that hard to do. I feel their marriage was a marriage of endurance, not happiness. My mother married my dad to escape her own mother's stern hand. My father is a control freak who has run off all of his children except me. There are two brothers in the family, as well. I read your book in one day. I could not put it down. It made me cry. I am going to purchase three copies (one for me and one for each of my sisters). They have a different version of our childhood, like your sisters. This was the best book I have ever read. and I am an avid reader. Thank you so much for your honesty and candid story. Most of all I appreciate someone who understands how I feel. I thought I was alone. My friends are "shocked" when I speak of my mother. I rarely mention her. Several people have assumed she was deceased because I never mention her. Again, thanks. Great work. I cannot wait for your next book. Can I be the first member of your fan club?"
— Renee B.
"This book is awesome, and I like your narration/style. Your book made me cry, even while typing this email. I took it out of the library, like any book, but it turned out to be very special. To my surprise, I completed this book without any break. I have very good parents. I love them. What can I say? But I am going to buy this book and keep it with me just as a way to respect your feelings. I am thankful to you for giving me a such a nice memoir."
— Naresh K.
"I very much appreciated your book. My mother is no saint. She is now 84. I, too am trying to forgive & forget the past."
— Rachel S.
"I really loved your book and could not put it down. I enjoyed how you raised questions and answered them, like not knowing why Jewish people attach and tear a black ribbon when someone dies. I was hoping that you would answer that, and you did. Did you ever find out what your dad really died from? I also found it interesting that you and your mom shared the commonality of not asking questions if something was bothering you. For example, your mom didn't want to ask questions about her illness, and you didn't want to know what your dad died from. I'm glad your life is good now and that you rose above it all. Thanks for sharing. It must be odd that so many readers now know all about your life yet you don't even know who they are."
— Debbie F.
"I just finished your memoir and it was wonderful. The title of the book got my attention; I guess, like you, I also heard that expression many times growing up. I found your book interesting because I grew up in the Queensbridge Projects. My family moved there in 1950 when I was five years old and stayed there till 1957, at which time we moved to Sunnyside. I remember we lived on 10th St., but I'm not sure of the correct address. Sadly I am the only one left; they have all passed away."
— Kathleen G.
"I just read your book and wanted to let you know how much it meant to me to see a reflection of my own experiences. Growing up with a mother who was dealing with mental illness; a kind father who was very good to me but probably worn out from managing my mom for so many years; and a much older (10 years older) brother who also was kind, but was out of the house by the time I was around seven—I've been nagged by the sense of always being different in a way most other people just can't understand. Your book has been the rare instance where I found I could easily relate and feel that someone else could truly comprehend the dynamics of this type of childhood. An area of your book that I think about is how you moved on with your life. You cited several times how your mother didn't ask for much, but you were able to go after what you wanted. I wonder how children, especially kids raised in challenging circumstances move on and don't repeat the life they saw growing up. If you write more, that is an area where I would welcome your viewpoint and hear you explore this in more detail. Thank you and I'm happy and inspired to see how you have moved forward with your life and family."
— Lisa R.
"Aside from the fact that I loved your writing, your book had a major impact on me. I was blown away by the soul-baring honesty of your revelations. Half the time I thought you were talking about my mother, although to borrow your honesty, my mother trailed a few notches south. She merely criticized, but did smoke as if to block pure oxygen from getting to the rest of us. I swear, the smoke was wafting off the page, that’s how real your writing was. You captured the characters, time and place perfectly. I knew those people and pretty much felt the same way about them that you did. Family can be so cruel sometimes, intended or otherwise. I’m happy to hear you’re working on another book and can’t wait to read it."
— Glenn G.
"Just wanted to email you (I have never emailed or written to an author before!) to tell you that I loved your book. It was beautifully written and I simply could not put it down. I related to many things in your book. I grew up in the Bronx (although you were in Queens) at the same time. We lived a short time in he projects and I remember also wanting to get out of there. I was always looking toward Manhattan, like yourself, and spent much time there and eventually my first apartment was there, too. My Mom, too, would say a version of "Who do you think you are?" She'd say to me "...you just want to live your life your way...". I always answered, "Why would I want to live it someone else's way..." which I'm sure truly annoyed her. I think as we get older, we look at our parents in such a different way. We realize they were people with complicated lives that we couldn't understand at time. I also loved the two photographs on the cover. I assume it was your Mother and you as a child. It captured that time beautifully and is a perfect cover. Good luck with this terrific book. I hope to see it on the New York Times bestseller list soon!! "
— Norma N.
"Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed your book! The story really moved along and kept me interested from start to finish. I just had to know what was in that box! Our stories are similar in a lot of ways. We're about the same age and we're both jewish. My mother is extremely cold, mean and very sarcastic towards me. To this day, we have a hard time communicating. Recently we attended a bar mitzvahs and were seated at the same table. Everyone was joking around and then my mother said something very mean and disrespectful about me. The mood at the table changed and a few people excused themselves and left. Like you I always craved that closeness and tried in so many ways to make us closer but so far it hasn't worked. Like you I had a grandparent on my side growing up. Just before I turned 18 my mom told me that I would be moving out the day after my birthday. She bought dishes and towels for my "new place" and kept them down the basement. I have one brother and she treats him so differently, just like how your mom was with your sisters. She was so loving, cuddly, and generous with him. He has a million cute nick names, she loves his wife and she helps support them and their dreams. A long time ago I decided that no matter what she said it wouldn't matter and I wouldn't think about it. That's the plan I still use when I have to deal with her. It's hard because she uses a lot of snide remarks and back handed compliments in the middle of a conversation. A lot of times I don't realize that she's disrespecting me or putting me down until a few moments later. Well, Alyse I won't take up any more of your time. Thank you for writing such a great book and taking the time to read my e-mail. I wish you all the best!"
"My first interest came from the title of your book because it is something I heard often while growing up: 'Who do you think you are?' I had the same ambition to be better than the circumstances I was born into. I also was the oldest daughter, had issues with my parents and sister, had to make all the adjustments that you mentioned for the reasons you mentioned. My father's death was caused by alcoholism. Your book gave me insight into just why some of these emotional things affect one's life. I just finished your book and found so many similarities in how our lives played out. My mother is doing well at age 97 and has mellowed, as have I. I always wanted boys for my children, and I have two sons. I wonder what having a daughter would have been like, but I got my wish. I did write a memoir of sorts recently to my sons to put in a scrapbook I made for them. Things I thought they may not know and might wonder about later in life. (My own wooden box.) I often wonder if the love we have for one another is fully realized. You made me feel it could be. Relationships are a work in progress. Thank you so much."
— Marjorie C.
"Your book was wonderful! I couldn't put it down! I really related to your childhood family experience. There are many similarities that I experienced growing up in my family. I really have grappled with my family dynamic for so long (I also have 2 sisters, my parents fought badly, my father had a secret affair, I pulled myself out on my own, I met a wonderful man who is devoted, I only wanted 1 child, my parents smoked non stop which is still a prob for me to this day. I always get ill from it, etc.). Your story resonates profoundly in my mind and has truly given me a bit of peace to know that I am not the only one who had such experiences (although for me, I grew up in a wealthy suburb area on Long Island and my family didn't fit in, and that was very hard for me). I gravitated to the city because of the diversity. Anyway, I could go on and on, but in essence, thank you for writing it!"
— Bonnie L.
"I bought your book at noon on Sunday, cracked it at 6 p.m. and turned the last page at 11:30 pm. It is nothing short of brilliant, although from my perspective, sadly brilliant. I can't imagine the courage it took to write it and, as a reader, I hope it is not your last. "
"Your book was such a gift, and I thank you so much for writing it. I have lived a life with a very difficult mother/daughter dynamic. You wrote this memoir with such honesty and it was so fluid—like a conversation with a closest friend or a sister who would understand, as opposed to the usual way my sister and I would dance around and joke about our difficult relationship with our mom! That moment when you backed out of the conversation with your girlfriend, complaining about your mothers, struck me the most. It is like having a secret other life that you feel you can only let people have the smallest glimpse of. I am passing it along to both my mother and my sister and then onto my brother and am hoping for some good conversation to come of it! Perhaps my Grandmother may pick it up as well!! I read your book in just two sittings- the second of which, I sat with my 3-year old son on my lap as he watched a show. He kept begging me to read him just a little bit! It left me wanting more and feeling so wonderful. It so confirmed the senseless optimism (as most of my family describes it!) that I hold on to. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
— Michele P.
"I stayed up most of the night last night turning pages until I finished your book. It’s been years since I’ve done that. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember the last time I did that. I nearly cried when you mentioned Alexander’s department store and the tightly connected pairs of shoes. I hadn’t thought about that in years. I want you to know how your words have touched and inspired me. I want you to know that your book will become part of who I am in a very profound way. If and when I write my memoir, I can only hope that I can touch one other person the way your book has touched me. Who do you think you are? I hope you think you're someone pretty special as I do. I am ever grateful."
— Patricia D.
"I hope this isn't the last book you write. I devoured it it in two sittings. I feel I know your and your mother, and I'm so happy you at last realized a connection and ultimately found closure. I think your writing is compelling and beautiful. Though my relationship with my parents was wonderful, I grew up in a New York borough and could relate to many things you write about (summer camp, Alexanders, school in Manhattan, etc.). Please write another!"
"I work in a small, public library in New Jersey and have a 12 credits towards my Masters in Library Science. We get pre-pubs of books at work, and I just pulled your memoir from the stack of non-fiction books that someone saved for me. It was as if it I chose it on purpose—your story was just so close to home- I read it in about three days (the first book I read completely since my Mom died; I hadn't been able to concentrate, but your story really hit home). I've always wanted to write a book and will some day. But I think I know how important this was for you to share and wanted you to know how much it meant to me. People are so afraid of sharing their feelings. I've learned after my mother's death that there's no reason to be afraid of having those emotions and letting people know how you feel (before it's too late, as was my case with my mother). Thank you for writing and sharing your story. It truly touched my heart and made me cry at times. But I needed to do that as well, to grieve and think about my life and those around me. Thanks again."
"I loved your book. Teary-eyed, I called my Mom the moment I finished it this weekend. I felt so lucky that I still had her in my life and I was able to hear her cheery voice on the other end. I am going to give the book to her now to read. Thank you for sharing from the heart. It was so beautifully written."
"I just finished your book and my emotions are fresh. My eyes are still swollen from crying. Although our backgrounds are different, there are so many similarities in our relationships with our mothers. I have two older brothers who could do no wrong. They had different parents, much like your sisters and you did. At one of my folks' anniversary parties, my brother got up and took the mic and read off a list starting with “I thank them for ...”. I took the mic and said, "Did we have the same parents?" My folks had a tumultuous marriage, and I use to wish they would divorce. My father had a horrible temper and lived in constant anger at my mother, jealous of her skills and attention being paid to others. In my closet there is a box that I have yet to open. They are love letters he wrote her when he was overseas in WWII. Need I say how the tears flowed at many moments in your book. I always heard from my mother that when I was born, I was a “homely mutt” with a full head of dark hair. She always said to me, "I hope you have a daughter just like you." I never married and never had a daughter. Only a dog, who is my joy. Thank you so much for writing your book. I am sure there are many who write in and share their stories with you. I know from my films, I often receive much mail like that. Warmest wishes, and I hope our paths cross one day."
"I recommend Who Do You Think You Are? highly! This memoir makes me want to aspire to write my own. Alas, I doubt I could reach the simplicity of Myers' writing coupled with the profundity of it. Maybe it's because the book relates closely to my poor, poor relationship with my mother, but that's not all of it, I think. It is simply a great read. Why can't more books use the simplicity of writing to such powerful effect as Myers does? I sure wish I could. Who Do You Think You Are? was, like other reviewers have said, a very fast read. So fast I didn't want it to end at times. Five unequivocal stars!"
— M. Davis, New Orleans
"I finished your book this morning at about midnight or thereabouts. I couldn’t put it down. Thank you so much for sharing your childhood (and adulthood) with me. You were very honest and open. I could feel the pain and frustration and fear. The ending was so beautiful. Your writing style is quick and to the point and easy to read. There wasn’t one boring part that I felt I wanted to skip over (like I do sometimes in other books)."
— Michelle, Los Angeles
"After reading your New York Times Magazine essay “How I Met My Mother,” I feel I know you—in fact, I could almost be you. Although some details differ, your description of the feelings you had about your mother and your daughter really hit home and moved me to tears. I have been estranged from my mother for most of my adult life and have had the same fear about replicating this with my daughter. The fear has always made it difficult to have a “normal” (whatever that is) relationship with my daughter, but I keep trying. I have in the past confided this fear to her, and she responded the same way your daughter did—that it would never happen. But the fear is so ingrained that it is hard to let it go, especially when we argue or she gets impatient with what she perceives as my treating her as a child (she is 24). The last three sentences of your piece gave me a sense of hope that I, too, can be freed from the curse and stop feeling like our relationship is over every time there is a problem. Thank you also for showing me that I am not alone in my feelings. I look forward to reading your book."
— Pat F.
"Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book. It is written so beautifully, I can see your life and feel your feelings."
— Judy S.
"I read your book in one day and then gave it to my mom who also read it just as quickly. I have recommended your book to my serious book-reading friends. You touched my heart, and I am so glad that you've achieved a successful marriage and family life where love endlessly abounds. I can relate to that! I look forward to more books from you!"
— Ilene M.
"I want to first start off by thanking you for writing the book and sharing. I felt a strong connection with you and your life for a variety of reasons. I, too, grew up in Queens, I'm turning 50 this year, have two siblings and most importantly, I had similar experiences with my own mother who passed away in 2001. The culture, although different, had no boundaries for our mothers in the 1950s, and in reading about your family life it was all too familiar. Who knows... our families may have been at the same supermarket or at Astoria Park. Raised a Roman Catholic, I never would have guessed that you, a Jewish girl, would have had some of the same issues I faced growing up. I cannot comment enough on your courage. I'm surprised that you remember so much. I admire your support group. I intend to pass your book onto others."
— Roseanne C.
"Your article today brought tears to my eyes and I wanted to thank you. How humbling to read an article about a mother-daughter relationship (similar to my own) that is not beautiful or heroic and the relationship concludes with no happy ending (never ones desire, but often ones reality). My mother (a 19 year recovering alcoholic), is still with us but my relationship with her continues to be strained, and I too struggled with having a daughter. I have one daughter and three sons (thank goodness its not the other way around) and my daughter at 14 years old already has a strained relationship with her grandmother as I did. I have worked diligently to give the consistent care, acceptance and presence to my daughter so that I would not repeat the cycle of dysfunction. I'm pleased to say that so far, all is well. Our daughters are the gifts we've earned from the gifts we learned the hard way...what not to do. Who not to be. I would not be the woman/mother/wife I am today if it were not for the struggles I persevered while a child. I am saddened but grateful too. Again, your story touched my heart. Thank you for putting to paper what so many of us just hold inside. "
— Allison M.
"I bought your book Saturday afternoon and finished it Sunday morning. I couldn't wait to wake up Sunday to finish it. You had me hooked from page 1. You are an amazing writer. I thought it was sad/joyful and vulnerable/strong all at the same time—and always easy to read. I can't stop thinking about the book and you."
— Jane V.
"What an amazing, powerful book. I have so many things to say about it, but I just wanted you to know that it affected me deeply and it is a work of art—bravo."
"Amazing. I just finished reading your book. I pre-ordered it and received it yesterday in the mail. I really got the book for a friend, who actually has a similar relationship with her mother and I can't say that I had the same with my mother, but I wasn't really close to her growing up. I always felt like she didn't like me. I am so glad I read your book. I couldn't put it down. My friend will enjoy it. Thank you so much."
"'Who Do You Think You Are?' is a beautifully written book. I read it in one sitting because, from the first page, I literally could not put it down. It is such a BRAVE book: it dares to look at that most sacrosanct -- and mythologized -- relationship: mother and daughter. And it tells a truth: that not all of us like our mothers. And not all mothers like their children. The book begins with the mother's funeral. The only thing the author wants is a wooden box that has been hidden in her mother's closet for as long as she can remember. She takes the box but does not open it, afraid of the secrets contained within. We then flash back to the 60s in a poorer neighborhood in Queens. Through tight, beautiful prose, we learn of the author's childhood. What is magical about this book is that it is not a chronicle of some nightmare or a retelling of yet another horrifying story of abject cruelty. Rather, 'Who Do You Think You Are?' is the story of what really goes on behind the closed doors of many peoples' lives. Relationships are not perfect. People hurt one another. People damage one another. And life goes on. Especially for the survivor. Ultimately, this is a book about what it means to love and to discover that place within yourself that lets you love in spite of the hurt you have suffered. It is also a book about forgiving and how that contributes to love. This is an amazing book and one that I recommend in the highest possible terms. It's a gem."
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