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In caring for her aging mother and her own young daughter, writer Maya Shanbhag Lang--"a new voice of the highest caliber" (Rebecca Makkai)--confronts the legacy of family myths and how the stories shared between parents and children reverberate through generations: a deeply moving memoir about immigrants and their native-born children, the complicated love between mothers In caring for her aging mother and her own young daughter, writer Maya Shanbhag Lang--"a new voice of the highest caliber" (Rebecca Makkai)--confronts the legacy of family myths and how the stories shared between parents and children reverberate through generations: a deeply moving memoir about immigrants and their native-born children, the complicated love between mothers and daughters, and the discovery of strength. How much can you judge another woman's choices? What if that woman is your mother? Maya Shanbhag Lang grew up idolizing her brilliant mother, an accomplished physician who immigrated to the United States from India and completed her residency, all while raising her children and keeping a traditional Indian home. She had always been a source of support--until Maya became a mother herself. Then, the parent who had once been so capable and attentive turned unavailable and distant. Struggling to understand this abrupt change while raising her own young child, Maya searches for answers and soon learns that her mother is living with Alzheimer's When Maya steps in to care for her, she comes to realize that despite their closeness, she never really knew her mother. Were her cherished stories--about life in India, about what it means to be an immigrant, about motherhood itself--even true? Affecting, raw, and poetic, What We Carry is the story of a daughter and her mother, of lies and truths, of receiving and giving care--and how we cannot grow up until we fully understand the people who raised us. Advance praise for What We Carry "A dazzling, courageous memoir about the weight we carry as women, daughters, and mothers--and what happens when we let go. Lang takes us deep into the heart of her relationship with her mother, a brilliant psychiatrist and Indian immigrant with long-buried secrets. After a health crisis brings mother and daughter under the same roof for the first time since childhood, Lang grapples with new information about the parent she'd idolized, and realizes it's time to tell the story of her own life. What We Carry is a love letter to everyone who has swum through turbulent water before reaching the shores of selfhood."--Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists


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In caring for her aging mother and her own young daughter, writer Maya Shanbhag Lang--"a new voice of the highest caliber" (Rebecca Makkai)--confronts the legacy of family myths and how the stories shared between parents and children reverberate through generations: a deeply moving memoir about immigrants and their native-born children, the complicated love between mothers In caring for her aging mother and her own young daughter, writer Maya Shanbhag Lang--"a new voice of the highest caliber" (Rebecca Makkai)--confronts the legacy of family myths and how the stories shared between parents and children reverberate through generations: a deeply moving memoir about immigrants and their native-born children, the complicated love between mothers and daughters, and the discovery of strength. How much can you judge another woman's choices? What if that woman is your mother? Maya Shanbhag Lang grew up idolizing her brilliant mother, an accomplished physician who immigrated to the United States from India and completed her residency, all while raising her children and keeping a traditional Indian home. She had always been a source of support--until Maya became a mother herself. Then, the parent who had once been so capable and attentive turned unavailable and distant. Struggling to understand this abrupt change while raising her own young child, Maya searches for answers and soon learns that her mother is living with Alzheimer's When Maya steps in to care for her, she comes to realize that despite their closeness, she never really knew her mother. Were her cherished stories--about life in India, about what it means to be an immigrant, about motherhood itself--even true? Affecting, raw, and poetic, What We Carry is the story of a daughter and her mother, of lies and truths, of receiving and giving care--and how we cannot grow up until we fully understand the people who raised us. Advance praise for What We Carry "A dazzling, courageous memoir about the weight we carry as women, daughters, and mothers--and what happens when we let go. Lang takes us deep into the heart of her relationship with her mother, a brilliant psychiatrist and Indian immigrant with long-buried secrets. After a health crisis brings mother and daughter under the same roof for the first time since childhood, Lang grapples with new information about the parent she'd idolized, and realizes it's time to tell the story of her own life. What We Carry is a love letter to everyone who has swum through turbulent water before reaching the shores of selfhood."--Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists

30 review for What We Carry: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Sometimes the best books are those we choose on a whim. This memoir was absolutely beautiful and I believe I shall "carry" it with me always. This is the most beautiful mother and daughter memoir as it covers not only motherhood but also caregiving for a person with Alzheimer's disease. Goodreads review published 03/08/20 Sometimes the best books are those we choose on a whim. This memoir was absolutely beautiful and I believe I shall "carry" it with me always. This is the most beautiful mother and daughter memoir as it covers not only motherhood but also caregiving for a person with Alzheimer's disease. Goodreads review published 03/08/20

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rene Denfeld

    “Maybe at our most maternal, we aren’t mothers at all. We’re daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we’d had and then finding ourselves.” This is such an achingly lovely, honest, insightful memoir, one that sings with truth about mothers and daughters (and every relationship). Maya Lang writes with grace and clarity, telling a story that is both informative and universal. Highly recommend.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Camelia Rose

    What We Carry is a memoir of the author's relationship with her mother. As a second generation immigrant, Maya Lang always idealized her hardworking, intelligent mother who was a psychiatrist, but when Maya gave birth to a daughter and needed her mother most, her mother became unavailable. Whenever it comes to mother-daughter relationship, it's complicated. In What We Carry, we read how Mary Lang reconciles the different versions her mother: the version from her childhood, the version she became What We Carry is a memoir of the author's relationship with her mother. As a second generation immigrant, Maya Lang always idealized her hardworking, intelligent mother who was a psychiatrist, but when Maya gave birth to a daughter and needed her mother most, her mother became unavailable. Whenever it comes to mother-daughter relationship, it's complicated. In What We Carry, we read how Mary Lang reconciles the different versions her mother: the version from her childhood, the version she became aware after she grew up, and the version her mother gradually became after the onset of Alzheimer disease. Being a mother herself and caring for her aging mother, this memoir is also a journey of self-discovery. This is a book about love, acceptance and letting go. It's written in terse sentences and in present tense. It reads like memory flashes. Quotes: "We must not judge....we can not know the weight of other woman's burden, whatever a woman decides, it is not easy." "Does the demand for motherhood ever cease?"

  4. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    This is what a mother’s love looks like to me. It looks like suffering. There is a story that is referred to a lot Maya Shanbhag Lang’s memoir, What We Carry , it is about a mother crossing a river with her son. The mother realizes that the river is much deeper than expected and she had a choice to make, save herself or save her child in a river with her son… Maya and her Mother works to figure out what the mother in the story choice should be. What We Carry is writer Maya Shanbhag Lang’s m This is what a mother’s love looks like to me. It looks like suffering. There is a story that is referred to a lot Maya Shanbhag Lang’s memoir, What We Carry , it is about a mother crossing a river with her son. The mother realizes that the river is much deeper than expected and she had a choice to make, save herself or save her child in a river with her son… Maya and her Mother works to figure out what the mother in the story choice should be. What We Carry is writer Maya Shanbhag Lang’s memoir about her relationship with her mother. It is well written, visceral, deeply moving, complicated, beautiful, nuanced and packed with so many different feelings. Maya documents what is like for her taking care of her very independent, brilliant, strong mother who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She must recreate a story in her mind to make the changes in roles easier. During her care taking Maya finds out more about her Mother’s past, things she wasn’t privy to, “secrets” that rock her to her core. This part for me really hit home, I really identified with Maya’s family, and when she wrote “I grew up with the understanding that the past was off-limits… My whole family avoided the subject. I have no idea how this unspoken pact was formed. I FELT THIS! So imagine having to take care of your mother with Alzheimer’s, who tells you her secret and you have no way of working through those emotions. This book perfectly captures in a beautiful way, motherhood and mother-daughter relationships. I was blown away but the purity of the relationship and Maya’s commitment to being authentic to her story. I highly recommend this one. What I learned reading this book I learned that pharmaceutical companies often out x and y In the product names (Xanax, Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac) because it makes them more memorable The French refers to orgasm as la petite mort

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    Digital arc via edelweiss. This is a book I’ll be buying the minute it hits the shelves. I’m never going to be able to do this story justice in a review, but I can say without any hesitation that it’s a story that will resonate with anyone who has experienced life with an aging parent. It was an emotional gut punch of the best kind. I intend to give this book a reread as it nears its release in April of 2020 and will update my thoughts at that time. For now: add this to your TBR. It’s going to b Digital arc via edelweiss. This is a book I’ll be buying the minute it hits the shelves. I’m never going to be able to do this story justice in a review, but I can say without any hesitation that it’s a story that will resonate with anyone who has experienced life with an aging parent. It was an emotional gut punch of the best kind. I intend to give this book a reread as it nears its release in April of 2020 and will update my thoughts at that time. For now: add this to your TBR. It’s going to be worth it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    What We Carry: A Memoir by Maya Lang was one of the most heartfelt, emotional and beautiful memoirs I have read in a long time. Maya Lang's complicated relationship with her mother resonated and evolved throughout the pages of this memoir. Sometimes what a child sees is not always what is true. It took Maya a long time to realize and accept this fact about her mom. Perhaps becoming a mother herself, having suffered through postpartum depression and learning that her own mother had Alzheimer's la What We Carry: A Memoir by Maya Lang was one of the most heartfelt, emotional and beautiful memoirs I have read in a long time. Maya Lang's complicated relationship with her mother resonated and evolved throughout the pages of this memoir. Sometimes what a child sees is not always what is true. It took Maya a long time to realize and accept this fact about her mom. Perhaps becoming a mother herself, having suffered through postpartum depression and learning that her own mother had Alzheimer's later on in her life gave Maya the courage to question, look more closely and examine the 'real" relationship she had with her mother. What transpired during this reexamining forced Maya to come to terms with the parts of her childhood that she had looked at through rose colored glasses for so long. As these truths surfaced they molded Maya into a stronger version of herself and made her a better daughter, mother and wife. As Maya Lang journeyed through her life, she visualized herself as a child that had a hard time fitting in, being the end product of immigrant parents, with an abusive father and a mother that could do no wrong, as a woman, loving wife, mother, author and above all else a daughter. I look back at my relationship I had with my mom and know that that relationship was beautiful, strong and honest. In my own way, as I am sure most daughters do, I tried to emulate the strengths and beauty of that relationship and pass it on to my daughters. My love for my daughters, as my mom's was for me, is unconditional and all encompassing. I believe that Maya became the strong woman she was because of the love she felt for her mom. Alzheimer's robbed Maya in some ways of her mother but also allowed her to finally see, accept and love her mother despite some of the misconceptions she viewed through her childhood. It also helped Maya's relationship with her daughter, Zoe, become stronger. Relationships can be tricky and take work. It is an ongoing process. Mothers have a hand in shaping their daughters into the people they will become and those same daughters will turn around and hopefully influence their daughters in a similar and positive way. What We Carry: A Memoir by Maya Lang was truthful, heartfelt and emotional. I felt Maya's hurt and felt her happiness. The writing was beautiful. I admired her for being able to share these most private and emotional feelings in her story. I also admired how in the end she was able to forgive her mother for those situations that should have been solved differently and with more honesty. This is a wonderful memoir that will play havoc with all your emotions. I highly recommend it. I received a complimentary edition of What We Carry: A Memoir by Maya Lang in a goodreads give away. Thank you to The Dial Press/Random House, goodreads and Maya Long for allowing me to read this beautiful book. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Maya Lang’s novel The Sixteenth of June* was one of my top three novels of 2014, so I was eager to read her next book, a forthright memoir of finding herself in the uncomfortable middle (the “sandwich generation”) of three generations of a female family line. Her parents had traveled from India to the USA for her mother’s medical training and ended up staying on permanently after she became a psychiatrist. Lang had always thought of her mother as a superwoman who managed a career alongside paren Maya Lang’s novel The Sixteenth of June* was one of my top three novels of 2014, so I was eager to read her next book, a forthright memoir of finding herself in the uncomfortable middle (the “sandwich generation”) of three generations of a female family line. Her parents had traveled from India to the USA for her mother’s medical training and ended up staying on permanently after she became a psychiatrist. Lang had always thought of her mother as a superwoman who managed a career alongside parenthood, never asked for help, and reinvented herself through a divorce and a career change. When Lang gave birth to her own daughter, Zoe, this model of self-sufficiency mocked her when she had postpartum depression and needed to hire a baby nurse. It was in her daughter’s early days, just when she needed her mother’s support the most, that her mother started being unreliable: fearful and forgetful. Gradually it became clear that she had early-onset Alzheimer’s. Lang cared for her mother at home for a year before making the difficult decision to see her settled into a nearby nursing home. Like Elizabeth Hay’s All Things Consoled, this is an engaging, bittersweet account of obligation, choices and the secrets that sometimes come out when a parent enters a mental decline. I especially liked how Lang frames her experiences around an Indian folktale of a woman who enters a rising river, her child in her arms. She must decide between saving her child or herself. Her mother first told this story soon after Zoe’s birth to acknowledge life’s ambiguity: “Until we are in the river, up to our shoulders—until we are in that position ourselves, we cannot say what the woman will do. We must not judge. That is the lesson of the story. Whatever a woman decides, it is not easy.” The book is a journey of learning not to judge her mother (or herself), of learning to love despite mistakes and personality changes. *One for me to reread in mid-June! Full disclosure: Maya and I are Facebook friends. Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Krutika Puranik

    • r e c o m m e n d a t i o n • . "Maybe at our most maternal, we aren’t mothers at all. We’re daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we’d had and then finding ourselves." - Maya Shanbhag Lang. . Perhaps because of the close bond that I share with my mother or maybe because I enjoy reading about relationships that carry a certain amount of intimacy to them, What We Carry moved me immensely. Not often does one come across a memoir that speaks of both, glory as well as shortfalls of • r e c o m m e n d a t i o n • . "Maybe at our most maternal, we aren’t mothers at all. We’re daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we’d had and then finding ourselves." - Maya Shanbhag Lang. . Perhaps because of the close bond that I share with my mother or maybe because I enjoy reading about relationships that carry a certain amount of intimacy to them, What We Carry moved me immensely. Not often does one come across a memoir that speaks of both, glory as well as shortfalls of mothers. Little did I know that after I'd finish reading the last page, I'll fall short of words to comprehend the enormity of this memoir's impact on me. If there's one book you're trying to squeeze in this year, please add What We Carry to your list. This book has my whole heart. . Maya Lang always thought of her mother as a powerful, independent and fierce woman who moved to the States and raised the family single-handedly. After the divorce, her mother worked multiple jobs to keep the family afloat and Maya grows up in awe of her mother's strength. This strong image of her mother wavers when Maya becomes pregnant. While dealing with postpartum and depression, Maya begins to analyse her relationship with her mother without the rose tinted glasses. When asked for help, her mother simply refuses to assist her and this leaves Maya flabbergasted. A woman who drove hours to make sure her daughter was comfortable in the University, outrightly denies to help her during the pregnancy. Maya cannot understand this side of her mother. But when the mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, things fall into place. . There's a significant shift that occurs when Maya begins to recall her childhood spent with a practical mother and an abusive father. As she dissects the relationship that she shared with her mother, she comes to think of her as a person. Not as a mother. When Alzheimer's robs Maya of her mother's love, she focuses on understanding her mother's life better. As she works through her mother's illness, she feels the bond with her daughter Zoe grow stronger. As the mother-daughter duo speak candidly about various events that spanned across their lives, they pull back and examine several layers that formed their intricate and complicated relationship. Her mother's vulnerability paired with strength reminded me of my own mother. Maya has a gift to connect with the readers and this memoir felt relatable in more than one aspect. I felt her pain, her joy, her need to seek her mother's approval and the constant effort to match up to her mother's level of service. It all felt personal. Mother-daughter relationships are both easy and at times complicated, and What We Carry projects all of this beautifully. Maya is a powerful writer, saying things that were lodged in my head but never made it onto a piece of paper. Everything about this memoir struck a chord with me and even as I write this review, I know very well that I'll go back to this book time and again to seek comfort and warmth. I highly recommend this. . Rating : 5/5.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

    “Maybe at our most maternal, we aren’t mothers at all. We’re daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we’d had and then finding ourselves.” What begins as a self-reflected motherhood becomes an externalized motherhood, becoming mother to a mother, and discovering that mothers are not perfect. This might not be a shock to most people, but it was to Lang, who discovers things about her mother that fundamentally alter everything she knew about how her mother survived, planned, and l “Maybe at our most maternal, we aren’t mothers at all. We’re daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we’d had and then finding ourselves.” What begins as a self-reflected motherhood becomes an externalized motherhood, becoming mother to a mother, and discovering that mothers are not perfect. This might not be a shock to most people, but it was to Lang, who discovers things about her mother that fundamentally alter everything she knew about how her mother survived, planned, and lived her day-to-day life in her years after immigrating to the United States from India. In reckoning with those new truths, Lang faces the lies that shaped her into the person she is today, and the consequences, both positive and negative, that those stories had on her life. Throughout, however, she is resistant to judge harshly her own mother, recognizing how harshly mothers are judged in general, a point driven home by the occasional repetition of an old tale her mother had told her about a mother wading across a river with her baby. When the water becomes too deep, the mother has to make a choice: herself or her child. Neither choice brings praise, both condemnation. But there is no answer, until you are the mother wading in the river. Lang finds a way to choose both herself, her child, and her mother, in a beautiful memoir that I can’t wait to recommend to everyone I know. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley

  10. 4 out of 5

    Teenu Vijayan

    "What does it mean for a woman to choose herself? It means having the audacity to see her own worth. For so long, I couldn’t do this. I created illusions." Excerpt From: "What We Carry: A Memoir" by Maya Shanbhag Lang is a book that I shall "carry" with me forever. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this book was addictive. Every word, every story, every memory was achingly poignant, lovely and celebrated the relationship the author shared with her mother. The dedication to the book which reads "What does it mean for a woman to choose herself? It means having the audacity to see her own worth. For so long, I couldn’t do this. I created illusions." Excerpt From: "What We Carry: A Memoir" by Maya Shanbhag Lang is a book that I shall "carry" with me forever. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this book was addictive. Every word, every story, every memory was achingly poignant, lovely and celebrated the relationship the author shared with her mother. The dedication to the book which reads as "For my mother. Both versions" foreshadows the unfolding of the story and yet the anticipation to know more never stops. Mother - daughter relationships are complicated, and this is an honest portrayal at its best. We see three version of Maya's mother- the idealistic version conjured up in her mind, the more realistic humane version and gradually the person who remained a shell of her former self post Alzheimer's All these versions help Maya in her own journey of motherhood. She learns through her own struggles that the rosy picture her mother painted was not without its own smudges. The clinks in the armour were always there but it took a hopeless diagnosis, rekindling of bonds and lot of talking to understand the truth. To see your superhero at their most vulnerable side is painful in its own, Maya almost has an illuminating experience in the whole ordeal. The book also address's immigrant life, harsh reality of Indian society where even a woman who is rich, educated is still bound to the shackles of an abusive relationship. The honesty with which she has shared her personal struggles, the childhood trauma her father inflicted on the children while growing up and the disjointed family resulted from years of enduring this is too real. I teared up reading some parts and have highlighted almost the entire book. Maybe that says something about how much I loved it. Heart breaking and beautiful in every way. Couldn't have picked a better book for #nonfictionnovember ✨

  11. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Silk

    This is a gorgeously written memoir about mothers and daughters. The writing was not only so beautiful but so many things resonated deep within me. Highly recommend for all mothers or daughters.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    There were some very poignant moments in here and revelations about mother daughter relationships that will stay with me for a while. There were also some annoyingly cliche thoughts scattered throughout that had me cringing involuntarily. The first 2/3rd of the book was just stunning and I so related with it and learned so much. The last third was a memoir of caregiving and decline, which I related with less, but really appreciated anyway.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ebirdy

    I was crying at the end but only because the author articulates so beautifully what it's like to be a daughter, and then to have to be the mother of your own mother. And what the loss of your mother feels like. In the author's case, she loses her mother to dementia, but it's so relatable to watching a loved one fade away from any type of illness. She also writes so clearly about how difficult it is as women to choose ourselves, but how it means we can be so much better in all the roles we must pl I was crying at the end but only because the author articulates so beautifully what it's like to be a daughter, and then to have to be the mother of your own mother. And what the loss of your mother feels like. In the author's case, she loses her mother to dementia, but it's so relatable to watching a loved one fade away from any type of illness. She also writes so clearly about how difficult it is as women to choose ourselves, but how it means we can be so much better in all the roles we must play: sibling, daughter, mother, friend, caretaker. She talks at length about how growing up with who both her parents were (or, in some cases, who she thought they were) shaped her as an adult, and her struggle to parent her own child in better, healthier ways. She does a wonderful job of weaving in writing and stories and the place they have in all our lives, and how sometimes the stories we tell others are a kindness, not a lie. But at other times, they are a way of deceiving ourselves as well as those to whom we tell them. Her candor about her own depression and a suicide attempt are honest and yet don't read as overly dramatic. She didn't have a terrific childhood, and watching her over time draw into focus the things her psychiatrist told her is so interesting. And her recognition that asking for help and leaning on others is not a weakness is such a good reminder. This book is for women of any age, but especially women who are, or have been, in the middle between their own children and their aging parents. I could underline or highlight most of this book - I just loved her writing. A few parts that stand out: Pg 24: I don't know how to become someone whose choices add up coherently. This is what terrifies me. My daughter needs someone who has answers. I have nothing but questions. Pg. 72: I write back and tell my dad it isn't a great time. I expect to feel guilty, like a terrible human being. Instead, I feel relief. For once, I've made my life easier. I've been my own ally, just as I want Zoe to be for herself. I'm making better choices in my life not despite my child, but because of her. Pg 131: She never dreamed that by failing to mention the support she'd received, I would feel guilty for needing it. She didn't realize that in omitting her struggles, I would question the legitimacy of mine. She didn't see that a mother's story affects a daughter's choices. Shame prevented her from speaking about that time. Shame leads to silence. This is it's real triumph, not the guilt we carry, but that we move forward without saying a word.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Poonam

    First, thank you to Dial Press for a free hard copy. This memoir is EVERYTHING. I read an advanced e-copy in mid March, around the time the shelter in place orders started. So emotions were already high, and this book was like a salve to my soul. Maya’s parents immigrated to the US from India, and Maya spent the majority of her life idolizing her mom. The strength to start over in a new country, build a successful career, and maintain a home for her husband and children. This story has all the elem First, thank you to Dial Press for a free hard copy. This memoir is EVERYTHING. I read an advanced e-copy in mid March, around the time the shelter in place orders started. So emotions were already high, and this book was like a salve to my soul. Maya’s parents immigrated to the US from India, and Maya spent the majority of her life idolizing her mom. The strength to start over in a new country, build a successful career, and maintain a home for her husband and children. This story has all the elements of the making it in America immigrant dream, and Maya revered her mom for all she accomplished. But the truth is never quite so dreamy. Maya’s journey to understand who her mom truly is begins when she discovers her mom has Alzheimer’s. She starts examining the myths and stories she told herself and what happens when confronted with the reality of who her mom actually is - human, flawed, and doing her best. In addition to Maya’s story about her and her mother, I was floored by the truths Maya illuminated in her upbringing. Moments that I thought were mine alone. My eyes widened more than once, when Maya shared an insecurity or struggle she had. Something I didn’t know others experienced. And then wondered if these insecurities I struggled with, and could not name, were more common than I gave credit for. Reading this book felt like watching an episode of THIS IS US or reading MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE. It’s heartfelt and relatable and it hits at that part of you that wants to feel connected. WHAT WE CARRY is a story about mothers and daughters. The way relationships evolve. The ebb and flow of family dynamics. I’m grateful to Maya for sharing her story, and 100% recommend this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hima Sarath

    “Maybe at our most maternal, we aren’t mothers at all. We’re daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we’d had and then finding ourselves” “A mother’s story affects a daughter’s choices” A beautiful memoir, which touched me so deeply. I was literally in tears , at some parts of this book. The experience was like a roller coaster ride of emotions. I am so much attached to my mother. I admire her !! She is my solace for everything. I cant pass a day without making a call to her. I r “Maybe at our most maternal, we aren’t mothers at all. We’re daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we’d had and then finding ourselves” “A mother’s story affects a daughter’s choices” A beautiful memoir, which touched me so deeply. I was literally in tears , at some parts of this book. The experience was like a roller coaster ride of emotions. I am so much attached to my mother. I admire her !! She is my solace for everything. I cant pass a day without making a call to her. I recognised my postpartum depression by venting the anger to my mother. Being a daughter and a mother, I could totally empathise every chapter myself. The book narrates the relationship of the author with her mother and how she recognises the real mother, (or the reality of a woman) tearing the mythical part. What she believed, experienced and the realities were entirely different. So, this clearly moves through three layers of motherhood. The mother whom she respected, admired gradually turns to a dementia patient. She copes up with this unacceptable condition of her mother and tries her best to take care of mom. Sometimes its justifiable for a woman to prioritise ourselves. The author’s experience as an academic, new mom, postpartum depression, how she fights for a career, physical strength along with the mental strength, dementia suffering mother, as a wife is interesting, because this is what happens in real life, no drama anywhere. Overall, I loved reading “What we carry on” it was like floating through my inner selves at certain moments.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susie Dumond

    "Maybe at our most maternal, we aren't mothers at all. We're daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we'd had and then finding ourselves." Maya Shanbhag Lang always idolized her mother, a brilliant physician who immigrated from India to the U.S. But then a change in her mother’s temperament led to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. As she took on her mother and young daughter’s care, Lang learned that despite their closeness, there was much to learn about her mother’s past. This memoir is "Maybe at our most maternal, we aren't mothers at all. We're daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we'd had and then finding ourselves." Maya Shanbhag Lang always idolized her mother, a brilliant physician who immigrated from India to the U.S. But then a change in her mother’s temperament led to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. As she took on her mother and young daughter’s care, Lang learned that despite their closeness, there was much to learn about her mother’s past. This memoir is so emotionally powerful, and written so well. Lang's story is heartbreaking and hope-making at once, and her reflections on motherhood and daughterhood will take your breath away. Having a parent with dementia is such a painful topic that I struggled to pick this one up, but once I did, I couldn't put it down. Thanks to NetGalley and Dial Press for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Park

    I really related to this story as my mother has dementia. Many of the stories were so familiar and appreciated the author’s interpretation of life and how we learn about ourselves and our loved ones through the processing of losing them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kiran Bhat

    A very conventional memoir, both in style and theme. Such works need to be elevated by a certain level of insight or wisdom in order to stand out. I just don't feel like I got a lot reading Lang's book. A very conventional memoir, both in style and theme. Such works need to be elevated by a certain level of insight or wisdom in order to stand out. I just don't feel like I got a lot reading Lang's book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anupama C K(b0rn_2_read)

    Memoirs are one of the few genres of non fiction that I enjoy reading.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Archana

    A fast-paced memoir based on the intricacies of a mother-daughter relationship, it specially deals with the lies we tell ourselves as children (maybe as coping mechanism, maybe to stay sane), and the overwhelming shock of coming face to face with the contradicting realities of who they really are. It also deals beautifully with the deeper aspects of taking care of a parent suffering from dementia while coming to terms with one's conflicting feelings about this person, getting to know this new pe A fast-paced memoir based on the intricacies of a mother-daughter relationship, it specially deals with the lies we tell ourselves as children (maybe as coping mechanism, maybe to stay sane), and the overwhelming shock of coming face to face with the contradicting realities of who they really are. It also deals beautifully with the deeper aspects of taking care of a parent suffering from dementia while coming to terms with one's conflicting feelings about this person, getting to know this new person, and above all, redefining and getting to know oneself in the face of these new realities and new roles. The chapters, kept short and sharp, had me racing through the book in two days. Maya Shanbhag also has these lovely philosophical observations about feelings, strength, self-appreciation, asking for help and a lot more, weaved beautifully into the narrative: "This is why the holidays can be stressful. Stories collide at the table. In our own life, you can establish your own narrative..." OR "Maybe at our most maternal, we're not mothers at all. We're daughters reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we'd had and then finding ourselves."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Surabhi Chatrapathy

    Growing up we all need an idea, a solid unshakeable foundation to put our faith in. A belief that we can always fall back to this idea/notion and it will back us no matter what. As children in numerous ways we are taught that this foundation is our family, specifically our parents. Even if we grow up in dysfunctional families, the world continues to tell us that despite everything it is our parents who are that myth of perfection, that unshakeable rock we can relay on. Learning that our parents Growing up we all need an idea, a solid unshakeable foundation to put our faith in. A belief that we can always fall back to this idea/notion and it will back us no matter what. As children in numerous ways we are taught that this foundation is our family, specifically our parents. Even if we grow up in dysfunctional families, the world continues to tell us that despite everything it is our parents who are that myth of perfection, that unshakeable rock we can relay on. Learning that our parents are just people. Their role as parents began only when we were born; they learnt as we grew is not the easiest understanding to wrap our head around. And yet as life unfolds, we learn that more and more everyday. In What We Carry, Maya Shanbhag writes of her relationship with her mother. The enigma that she believed her mother to be, and the puzzle she turned out to be. It's a hard journey to walk, and the book illustrates just that. Do you forgive them for what they couldn't do for you as children? Is it for you to forgive, should they be seeking forgiveness? Should they had hid what they did? Would knowing those things have made your life easier in reality? How do we answer these questions? In retrospect we wish were privy to it all, in belief that it would have built us stronger, but it is just that, a wish. For we do not know how it would have actually played out. Watching our parents come undone is painful to witness. Maya documents her mother's illness and her slow submission to it. She also speaks of her journey as a mother, as she sees her mother reveal herself, years of veils falling away. I also really appreciate how she records her experience with depression. I think for me, the book reminds us in small and big ways that it is important to address our parents for who they chose to be, and not who we make them to be in our minds. An extremely treacherous journey, but one that will heal us for life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    There are so many things I want to say about this stunning memoir by Maya Shanbhag Lang that I don't know where to start. This quote from a story the author's mother tells her seems like a good place - "Whatever a woman decides, it's not easy." "What We Carry" is the story of Lang's relationship with her mother, a brilliant but complicated psychiatrist who emigrated to the U.S. and is eventually diagnosed with dementia. As her mother ages and the disease progresses, the author learns that not eve There are so many things I want to say about this stunning memoir by Maya Shanbhag Lang that I don't know where to start. This quote from a story the author's mother tells her seems like a good place - "Whatever a woman decides, it's not easy." "What We Carry" is the story of Lang's relationship with her mother, a brilliant but complicated psychiatrist who emigrated to the U.S. and is eventually diagnosed with dementia. As her mother ages and the disease progresses, the author learns that not everything she believed about her mother and their past is true, forcing her to reexamine her childhood and her mom for what and who they really are, and how that made her who she is today. It also forces her to reassess who she wants to be. Lang's journey as a woman, as a wife, as a mother and most of all as a daughter, is beautiful, heartbreaking, and revelatory. Her writing is lyrical and honest and although it's not a light read, the book is fast-paced and you won't want to put it down. I find myself looking at my relationship with my mother, and hers with my grandmother who also suffered from dementia, differently after reading "What We Carry," and I've also been reflecting on how I want my own daughters to look at their relationships with me. At one point, Lang writes "Maybe at our most maternal, we aren't mothers at all. We're daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we'd had and then finding ourselves." That is the gift of this book - helping us reflect on our relationships with the women who made us who we are as we shape the women our daughters will become. Thank you to NetGalley, Random House and the author for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tania Moore

    WHAT WE CARRY, by Maya Shanbhag Lang, is a powerful, moving memoir by a master storyteller. In the opening scene, Lang’s daughter is nine days old. Lang turns to her mother for advice, and her mother shares a story, part riddle, part myth, that opens up central questions about what it means to be a woman, a mother, a daughter. Written in short, jewel-like segments, the story unfolds in a series of vivid scenes, tethered by the present-day arc of the narrator becoming a mother herself, and her re WHAT WE CARRY, by Maya Shanbhag Lang, is a powerful, moving memoir by a master storyteller. In the opening scene, Lang’s daughter is nine days old. Lang turns to her mother for advice, and her mother shares a story, part riddle, part myth, that opens up central questions about what it means to be a woman, a mother, a daughter. Written in short, jewel-like segments, the story unfolds in a series of vivid scenes, tethered by the present-day arc of the narrator becoming a mother herself, and her relationship with her own mother. The narrative moves seamlessly back and forth from the present to the narrator’s childhood as the daughter of Indian immigrants. The combination of love and expectation, hardship and abundance, are shown with vivid, if sometimes painful grace, as Lang explores the complex forces influencing the person she’s grown to be in this richly explored memoir. Along the way, it becomes clear that Lang’s mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Suddenly the person Lang has loved and admired, upon whom she’s relied for so long, is no longer the larger than life figure she once was. Lang brings the reader into the intimate and wrenching choices she and her mother have to make with honesty, insight and compassion. Over the course of this resonant and beautifully written memoir, Long comes to terms not only with her mother and herself, but with the evolving discovery of what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman in this world. Highly recommend!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    I received a complimentary copy of this e-book ARC from the author, publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. What We Carry offers so much – insight into an immigrant experience, Maya Shanbhag Lang’s experience growing up as a second generation Indian American, childhood trauma, postpartum depression, Alzheimer’s, and much much more. While packed with an abundant of life’s joys and sorrows, What We Carry is ultimately about womanhood. It is about how love is always interdependent I received a complimentary copy of this e-book ARC from the author, publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. What We Carry offers so much – insight into an immigrant experience, Maya Shanbhag Lang’s experience growing up as a second generation Indian American, childhood trauma, postpartum depression, Alzheimer’s, and much much more. While packed with an abundant of life’s joys and sorrows, What We Carry is ultimately about womanhood. It is about how love is always interdependent and liberating. Maya masterfully weaves a family legend throughout the memoir, where a woman is found in an impossible situation—she is in a river, carrying her child overhead, and she must decide if she saves herself or her child. Who will she choose? As Maya depicts her various stages of being a daughter, a mother, a writer, and a person who grows into her strength, readers are drawn into the complexity of the woman in the river’s choice. Ultimately, we are all invited to be this woman in the river. We are invited into a liberating strength to choose ourselves, not to the exclusion of our children or others whom we love, but as the only way of learning how to swim—both mother and child. What We Carry is a tribute to motherhood, the experience of being a daughter, and being a woman who finds herself strong and resilient in a world that conditions her to sacrifice herself rather than be fully alive.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Trina

    This was an incredibly raw memoir that captivated me for the entire book. I checked in out on a whim and had no idea that it would be so compelling.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Mothers and daughters, perhaps the most complicated of relationships, add dementia and alzheimer's and you have this book of love, loss and finding. Although it can seem repetitive and at times self-indulgent, the writer needs to take the time for the reader to understand the complexity of her relationship and journey with her mother. Much of the discussion centers around erasure, of women bearing children and then in our author's case, serving as her mother's caregiver. Salient points are made, Mothers and daughters, perhaps the most complicated of relationships, add dementia and alzheimer's and you have this book of love, loss and finding. Although it can seem repetitive and at times self-indulgent, the writer needs to take the time for the reader to understand the complexity of her relationship and journey with her mother. Much of the discussion centers around erasure, of women bearing children and then in our author's case, serving as her mother's caregiver. Salient points are made, i need to go back and reflect on these. My favorite quote from the book: “Maybe at our most maternal, we aren’t mothers at all. We’re daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we’d had and then finding ourselves.”

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    What a deeply felt memoir from a brilliant and lyrical writer. Lang allows us a view into the complexities of her relationship with her mother and, in doing so, gives us a gift by which to understand our own. She does with with a humility and honesty that is humbling to this reader. I couldn't put it down. What a deeply felt memoir from a brilliant and lyrical writer. Lang allows us a view into the complexities of her relationship with her mother and, in doing so, gives us a gift by which to understand our own. She does with with a humility and honesty that is humbling to this reader. I couldn't put it down.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I loved how honest the author was in this memoir about how her perspective on her mother changed throughout her life. When she was young, she idolized her mother. When Lang became a mother herself, she began to see the reality of her mother's narcissism and shortcomings. The relationship between mother and daughter evolves yet again once Lang's mother develops dementia and Lang becomes her caretaker. There's a lot here to discuss, and for me personally, there were so many uncanny similarities be I loved how honest the author was in this memoir about how her perspective on her mother changed throughout her life. When she was young, she idolized her mother. When Lang became a mother herself, she began to see the reality of her mother's narcissism and shortcomings. The relationship between mother and daughter evolves yet again once Lang's mother develops dementia and Lang becomes her caretaker. There's a lot here to discuss, and for me personally, there were so many uncanny similarities between my own life and the author's. It was refreshing to see someone put into writing the difficulties of growing up in a dysfunctional family where there is no consistent family narrative, secrets abound, and the children's emotional-relational needs are not met. I read this book with utter fascination for the first half. But then the mother gets dementia, and at that point, I felt like Lang became more invested in crafting a tidy narrative rather than delving deeper into the pain of the past. With a parent with dementia, there is no more past, and while I'm glad for Lang that she found peace in this, for myself, I have found it to be a cop-out on accountability and a dark well of emptiness where one's heritage should be. I don't want to be too harsh on Lang, because she does show the hard moments and the struggles. What was missing for me, though, was her mother's own story. I kept waiting for that to be revealed, and it never was. Lang also began to center the memoir around a story that was passed down by her grandmother to her mother where the moral of the story is that when faced between choosing between her kids and herself, a mother chooses herself. Lang holds onto this story as a way to justify her own need to choose herself in the face of drowning in motherhood. Which is fine and healthy - no judgment there. However, I think Lang missed the point a bit. In Lang's mother's life, her mother was able to choose herself because Lang's grandparents stepped in and raised their grandson themselves, thereby allowing Lang's mother to pursue her career. But what about the fact that Lang's mother was in a horrible marriage where the husband was abusive towards her daughter? Where were the grandparents to whisk her away then? Instead of supporting the mother to actually be a mother AND have her career, the grandparents remove that responsibility of parenting from her entirely. I know this is very common in Indian culture (Lang is second generation Indian-American) and other cultures, but from what I have observed, it seems to perpetuate the old traditions and dysfunctions because the older generation is raising the younger instead of the middle generation - which is the generation that is the pivot point to effect real change. Lang took a nostalgic view of this dynamic and generalized that in India, a "village raises a child" unlike in the US. But given how selfish and emotionally disconnected Lang's mother was, I'm not convinced that the village is the better way to go. The problem with a neglectful or abusive parent getting sick or dying is that the survivors' guilt for wanting more than what they got in the first place is amplified in the face of death. The second half of the book is entirely about Lang's care-taking of her mother as her dementia worsens, and it is far too precious in many parts. Overall, an excellent memoir but I had hoped for something a bit different.

  29. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Marlene♥

    What a beautiful book this was. I do not think I have words to describe it but in the end I was like What Happened? There was such a power hidden here it was beautifully done. It all begins with a quite sad and scary Indian story. A mother and her child are in the river. Then suddenly the tide gets dangerous and the mother must decide what to do. Save herself or save her child. How it ended left me speechless and that does not happen tome often. I do know I have to re read this book but now with m What a beautiful book this was. I do not think I have words to describe it but in the end I was like What Happened? There was such a power hidden here it was beautifully done. It all begins with a quite sad and scary Indian story. A mother and her child are in the river. Then suddenly the tide gets dangerous and the mother must decide what to do. Save herself or save her child. How it ended left me speechless and that does not happen tome often. I do know I have to re read this book but now with myself and my daughter in mind. Highly recommend.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Rowlands Talcott

    This book was a memoir of a mother and daughter struggling through life and then realizing part of the struggle was due to dementia. The daughter had to re-learn how to communicate with her mother. She struggle through how she saw her mother when she was growing up and face that maybe what she thought her mother was she really wasn't. It was a great read for anyone who has been through dementia with a parent. This book was a memoir of a mother and daughter struggling through life and then realizing part of the struggle was due to dementia. The daughter had to re-learn how to communicate with her mother. She struggle through how she saw her mother when she was growing up and face that maybe what she thought her mother was she really wasn't. It was a great read for anyone who has been through dementia with a parent.

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