Not Becoming My Mother is a sweet and sad paean to the author’s mother, who was a smart, career-minded woman forced by the era she lived in as well as her parents to content herself to be a wife and mother, both roles she had very little talent for. The descriptions of the snacks she whipped up for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop are revolting, although the kids liked them!
Fortunately, she was able to see beyond her own life, and what appears to have been serious depressive episodes, to encourage her daughter to reach for her dreams and a real career, however bad of a mother she was in other ways. The book was written much after the mother’s death, after her daughter found a trove of letters and journals that allowed her to finally understand her mother’s life. Ruth Reichl is a former NY Times food critic who wrote the very funny Garlic and Sapphires, which describes her adventures as a food critic.