All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad
Intimacy has always eluded twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause—despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss—until, that is, Lucia came into her life. But when Maggie’s mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and, along with Iris’s will, five sealed envelopes, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of.
In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of her discomfort with her daughter’s sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip, determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. Maggie quickly discovers Iris’s second, hidden life, which shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents’ perfect relationship. What is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall?
Told over the course of a funeral and shiva, and written with enormous wit and warmth, All My Mother’s Lovers is the exciting debut novel from fiction writer and book critic Ilana Masad. A unique meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties and grief, and a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity, All My Mother’s Lovers challenges us to question the nature of fulfilling relationships.
May 26, 2020
Literary Fiction/LGBT Family Life Fiction
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This was such a powerful read. We meet Maggie, a 20-something, queer, Jewish woman, who is dealing with the grief of suddenly losing her mother, Iris. As she processes her loss, she learns more about who Iris really was, thanks to letters left behind in her family home.
Maggie and her mother had a tumultuous history, especially when it came to her mother’s acceptance of Maggie’s sexuality. As Maggie learns more about her Iris through these letters, secrets are exposed and misunderstandings are slowly untangled.
All My Mother’s Lovers is a refreshing look at the intricacies of family and how sometimes peeling back the layers on others can help us better understand ourselves too. Anyone who has navigated complex family dynamics will connect with at least some of the myriad of issues presented here.
Ilana Masad’s detailed and nuanced writing masterfully shares the intricacies of family life and the challenges of feeling misunderstood. This book celebrates and normalizes diversity and I appreciated how many social issues Masad incorporated in this literary fiction debut. I enjoyed being a part of Maggie’s journey and only wished the ending was a little more fleshed out as I connected so much with this powerful and unique storyline.
Thank you to Dutton Books for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
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