Cover image for Not becoming my mother and other things she taught me along the way
Not becoming my mother and other things she taught me along the way
Publication Information:
Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2009.
Physical Description:
147 p. (large print) ; 23 cm.
Local Subject:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book LP 921 REICHL 1 1

On Order



Bestselling author Ruth Reichl embarks on a clear-eyed and openhearted investigation of her mother's life, piecing together the journey of a woman she comes to realize she never really knew. Looking to her mother's letters and diaries, Reichl confronts the painful transition her mother made from a hopeful young woman to an increasingly unhappy older one and realizes the tremendous sacrifices she made to make sure her daughter's life would not be as disappointing as her own. Book jacket.

Author Notes

Ruth Reichl was born in New York City on January 16, 1948. In 1970, she graduated from the University of Michigan with a M.A. in art history. She became a food writer and magazine editor for New West magazine. Later she worked for the Los Angeles Times, first as the restaurant editor and then food editor. She received two James Beard Awards. In 1993, she moved back to New York to become the restaurant critic for The New York Times. She was the editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine for ten years.

She is the author of the memoirs Garlic and Sapphires, Tender at the Bone, and Comfort Me with Apples and the novel Delicious! Her latest book, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, was published in 2015.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Reichl combs through her dead mother's diaries and correspondence, trying to understand the woman she remembered as bitterly unhappy. She realizes how stifling were the expectations on 1950s housewives and how her mother blamed her depression on her inability to seek meaningful work outside the home. The revelations are fascinating, but Reichl's effort would have been better served by a professional narrator. While her deep, slightly hoarse voice conveys emotion sufficiently, she is an awkward reader, prone to loading her sentences with wooden emphasis and reaching for amateurish dramatic effect. Readers are likely to be struck by her ability to see her mother so clearly and without sentimentality, but they won't lose themselves in the reading. A Penguin Press hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 9). (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Irreverently immortalized as the klutzy cook who renounced edibility in favor of creativity, Reichl's mother, and her quirky kitchen habits,provided frivolous fodder for Reichl's previous culinary memoirs. But in this keenly felt retrospective, Reichl reveals another side of her mother, whose life seemed a shining example of what not to do. Where once Miriam harbored visions of being a doctor and applied her formidable intellect in the business world, she ultimately subjugated her own ambition and desires in favor of those of her family, thus providing her daughter with a seemingly negative role model. Sadly typical of her time and generation, Miriam surrendered personal dreams to suit society's restrictive ideals of feminine conduct, and paid a steep psychic price. Only upon discovering a hidden trove of diaries and letters after Miriam's death was Reichl able to understand the full extent of her mother's sacrifices. Candid and insightful, Reichl's intensely personal and fiercely loving tribute acknowledges her mother as both the source and inspiration behind her success.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2009 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Restaurant critic Reichl (, whose three previous memoirs-Tender at the Bone (1998), Comfort Me with Apples (2001), and Garlic and Sapphires (2005)-were all best sellers, here stitches together the account of her mother's unhappy life from letters and notes she discovered after her mother's death. This brief but poignant title underscores the plight of intelligent women forced by societal expectations into leading unfulfilled lives. Although not a trained narrator, Reichl reads with knowing authority. Mothers and daughters interested in learning more about the restrictions placed on women during the mid-20th century as well as appreciators of Reichl's previous books should also enjoy this one. [Audio clip available through; the Penguin Pr. hc, a New York Times best seller, received a starred review, Xpress Reviews, LJ 4/24/09.-Ed.]-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Mim Talesp. 9
What Girls Can Dop. 33
Finding Mr. Rightp. 45
Idle Aptitudesp. 62
Chaosp. 74
What We Are Made Forp. 85
Dear Dr. Portnoyp. 95
Rainbowsp. 111
Tsunami of Painp. 120
Gratefulp. 129
Giftsp. 136
Acknowledgmentsp. 141