3 out of 4 stars
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Relationships are not always the easiest things in our lives; the ones with our parents can be especially trying and the ones between mothers and daughters even more so. So how can we, as a mother or a daughter, improve said relationship? Enter The Secrets to How Not To Throw Mama From The Train.
Written by Dr. Janice Hooker Fortman, The Secrets to How Not To Throw Mama From The Train is a non-fiction book that looks more closely at the relationships between mothers and daughters. It is mostly memoir, as a lot of the book (especially the beginning) focuses on Dr. Fortman’s own difficult relationship with her mother, but there are also stories from other women (friends and strangers she has had contact with online) and advice for how to improve communication and your connection with your own mom. At only 104 pages, it was a quick but useful read for me.
People learn differently and one way to learn is to look at examples. This book is full of stories, not only of the author and her mother, but other women and their own tense situations or arguments with their mothers. A reader could look at them and see what happened to someone else and what went wrong and then think about how to apply this new lesson to their own life. If the reader is unable to think in that way, Dr. Fortman makes explicit suggestions and tips based on both research and experience. She even used specific situations for examples and then gave clear suggestions for these. For example, there was a story about a mother and daughter who argued over grocery shopping and then advice on what to do to improve the shopping experience. While some of the stories shared by others and Dr. Fortman were about daughters who were at the stage where they had to care more for their moms (driving them places, etc.), there were enough situations shared so that the book can be relatable not just for daughters who are caretaking, but really any mother or daughter.
Not only does the book include Dr. Fortman’s own reflections and expertise, but she also included studies and other doctors’ research (who are all given credit in the source list included in the novel). This was all very useful and made me attentive to the advice given, but as I was reading I found myself wishing that the book was more research-oriented than memoir. I want to know more about specific suggestions to help in more situations, not just the ones in the book. This is not necessarily a negative about the book, just my own desire for more information from Dr. Fortman. There were some errors that I noticed in spacing (double indents, for example) and punctuation, but nothing so glaring that it detracted from my reading. I think the book could have been better organized to help the book have a better flow. For example, there was a survey mentioned at the beginning of the book that was sent to and filled out by many women “some were given by women I know and others were given anonymously…” and later all the answers were just listed in a separate chapter without much narration surrounding them.
I rate this book a 3 out of 4 stars. I could not rate it a 4 due to the errors that I listed above and the organizational issues. While I read, I wanted the book to be more than just a memoir with more research and more information, but I will definitely be looking at Dr. Fortman’s blog and other writings for more on this subject. It was a relatable and an enjoyable read, great for mothers and daughters with any kind of strain in their relationship or for those wanting to better understand these relationships.
The Secrets to How Not To Throw Mama From The Train
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