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Things You've Inherited from Your Mother by…

Things You've Inherited from Your Mother

by Hollie Adams

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Things You've Inherited From Your Mother focusses on Carrie, but the broader use of characterization does as much to build readers' understanding of Carrie as Carrie's own narrative. Ultimately, however, it is Carrie's voice which will linger for readers, as much as for the cringes and winces as for the giggles and snorts.

The prose remains buoyant even when the narrator is sinking. And the novel's structure is tightly knit, so that the final words leave readers with an understanding that the simple fact that readers are holding this story in their hands demonstrates that Carrie's means of coping with her grief were effective after all.

(This is a spoiler-free space, but I would love to tell you exactly why the ending was so fitting. I do have much more to say, here on BuriedInPrint.) ( )
  buriedinprint | Jul 13, 2015 |
When your mother dies, what do you do? Do you collapse in grief? Do you start drinking even more? Do you make blunder after blunder? Do you think about writing a self-help book to help others through grief despite the train wreck you seem to be making of your own life? If you are Carrie, in Hollie Adams' inappropriately hilarious new novel, Things You've Inherited From Your Mother, you do all of the above.

When Carrie's mother dies of ovarian cancer, Carrie spirals into her worst self--funny, passive-aggressive, snarky, and lost. She drinks wine more excessively than before. She shows up at her mother's funeral looking like a street walker. She's fighting a silent fight (and most likely losing) with Poncho, her mother's cat, who she grudgingly inherited. She's driving her teenaged daughter Kate more crazy than usual. She's determined to show her ex-husband how wrong he was to divorce her, despite her inability to have anything go right when she's in his presence. Her job is not terribly fulfilling and when she gets back from her two day compassionate leave, she is startled to find a new dress code in place, one with which she disagrees, so she takes to wearing unwashed sweats to work everyday; they are not expressly forbidden as jeans are. She shunts her live-in boyfriend into the category of "things I'll deal with later," actively neglecting their lackluster relationship. In short, she is in a full on protest against everything in her life.

The narrative is not straightforwardly traditional, instead being shot through with lists of things, Choose Your Own Adventure blurbs, startling interjections that need to be highlighted, to-do lists, and the occasional end message from a video game to which Carrie's addicted. Adams uses a second person narration that makes the readers feel as if they are being addressed as Carrie's friend and while this takes a little getting used to in the beginning, it works as Carrie's mid-life crisis, perhaps precipitated by her mother's death but perhaps always in the offing, spread eagles across the page. Grief is funny and that is no doubt true here but there is also the breath of sorrow underlying all of the funny bits as well. As we laugh at Carrie's inappropriateness, we also sympathize with her unacknowledged vulnerability. But it's by no means sad, because, well Carrie is plain old over the top zany. This is a quick read and it is pure comedy gold if you have a fondness for bumbling heroines bent on self-sabotage. ( )
1 vote whitreidtan | May 6, 2015 |
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After the death of her mother, Carrie takes a wine-fueled, passive-aggressive approach to healing that puts her at odds with her family.

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