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Now My Heart is Full: A Memoir

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A deeply affecting memoir of motherhood and daughterhood, and how we talk about both, from popular writer Laura June Laura June’s daughter, Zelda, was only a few moments old when she held her for the first time, looked into her eyes, and thought, I wish my mother were here. It wasn’t a thought she was used to having. Laura was in second grade when she realized her mother wa A deeply affecting memoir of motherhood and daughterhood, and how we talk about both, from popular writer Laura June Laura June’s daughter, Zelda, was only a few moments old when she held her for the first time, looked into her eyes, and thought, I wish my mother were here. It wasn’t a thought she was used to having. Laura was in second grade when she realized her mother was an alcoholic. As the years went by, she spiraled deeper, becoming borderline abusive, and by the time of her death a few years before Zelda’s birth, the two had drifted apart entirely. In Now My Heart Is Full, Laura June explores how raising her daughter forced her to come to terms with her own mother’s tragic legacy and recognize the connective tissue that binds together the three generations of women. She also confronts the complicated place that women’s drinking often occupies and interrogates the culture of drinking that surrounds our ideas of motherhood, reflecting on her own decision not to drink. In beautiful and irreverent prose, she describes how coming to grips with the fact that Zelda would never know her grandmother, while trying to be the best mother she could be, forced her to reevaluate her own mother, who tried her best to raise her children while struggling with addiction. By confronting the day-to-day frustrations of new motherhood she exposes how, even a generation later, we still do not have the language to fully discuss the change that a woman undergoes when she becomes a parent. And only by experiencing the pain and joy of it herself is she able to make peace with her mother’s memory at last and find that, to her surprise, the two have more in common than she ever knew.


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A deeply affecting memoir of motherhood and daughterhood, and how we talk about both, from popular writer Laura June Laura June’s daughter, Zelda, was only a few moments old when she held her for the first time, looked into her eyes, and thought, I wish my mother were here. It wasn’t a thought she was used to having. Laura was in second grade when she realized her mother wa A deeply affecting memoir of motherhood and daughterhood, and how we talk about both, from popular writer Laura June Laura June’s daughter, Zelda, was only a few moments old when she held her for the first time, looked into her eyes, and thought, I wish my mother were here. It wasn’t a thought she was used to having. Laura was in second grade when she realized her mother was an alcoholic. As the years went by, she spiraled deeper, becoming borderline abusive, and by the time of her death a few years before Zelda’s birth, the two had drifted apart entirely. In Now My Heart Is Full, Laura June explores how raising her daughter forced her to come to terms with her own mother’s tragic legacy and recognize the connective tissue that binds together the three generations of women. She also confronts the complicated place that women’s drinking often occupies and interrogates the culture of drinking that surrounds our ideas of motherhood, reflecting on her own decision not to drink. In beautiful and irreverent prose, she describes how coming to grips with the fact that Zelda would never know her grandmother, while trying to be the best mother she could be, forced her to reevaluate her own mother, who tried her best to raise her children while struggling with addiction. By confronting the day-to-day frustrations of new motherhood she exposes how, even a generation later, we still do not have the language to fully discuss the change that a woman undergoes when she becomes a parent. And only by experiencing the pain and joy of it herself is she able to make peace with her mother’s memory at last and find that, to her surprise, the two have more in common than she ever knew.

30 review for Now My Heart is Full: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxane

    Sometimes, a book swells into something far lovelier than you assume it will be. Laura June’s warm and moving Now My Heart is Full is one such unforgettable book. What seems like a straightforward memoir about motherhood slowly, carefully, becomes so much more. This, is the story of how the daughter of an alcoholic mother becomes a motherless mother and reconciles the ways she was loved, the ways she was hurt and how the birth of her own daughter allowed her heart to finally grow full. There is Sometimes, a book swells into something far lovelier than you assume it will be. Laura June’s warm and moving Now My Heart is Full is one such unforgettable book. What seems like a straightforward memoir about motherhood slowly, carefully, becomes so much more. This, is the story of how the daughter of an alcoholic mother becomes a motherless mother and reconciles the ways she was loved, the ways she was hurt and how the birth of her own daughter allowed her heart to finally grow full. There is no maudlin sentimentality here. Instead, Laura June writes with wit and melancholy, unabashed joy and tenderness. Imagine my surprise, when I reached the end, and found myself in tears.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura June

    Riddled with flaws but look I did my best.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ellis

    For someone who claims to not enjoy books about motherhood and alcoholism, I currently have bookmarks in several books about alcoholism, alcoholic mothers, and this book, about motherhood and an alcoholic mother. I almost want to give this three stars because even though it crumbled to pieces for me by the end, that may just be because I struggled to connect with June's writing. This book has Sex Object syndrome, where a lot of vignettes are presented in a non-linear fashion that I found distrac For someone who claims to not enjoy books about motherhood and alcoholism, I currently have bookmarks in several books about alcoholism, alcoholic mothers, and this book, about motherhood and an alcoholic mother. I almost want to give this three stars because even though it crumbled to pieces for me by the end, that may just be because I struggled to connect with June's writing. This book has Sex Object syndrome, where a lot of vignettes are presented in a non-linear fashion that I found distracting, and while her marriage is certainly none of my affair, this passage: "But the connection that I felt to him was not something that ever flagged, and every time he told me I should move out, that he hated me, and later, that we should get divorced, I dug in my heels and stared at him, waiting it out," soured me on everything about her husband for the last half of the book, but I did love all that she wrote about her daughter. Books about motherhood make me sad about all of the things I didn't do for my kid when he was a baby and books about alcoholic mothers make me happy that he's growing up with sober parents. I should just let those feelings resonate inside myself and stop picking up memoirs on these topics, no matter how glowingly Bitch magazine talks about them. Updated & added a star because of a pleasant interaction with Laura June, who was nice to me even though I didn't rate her book very highly.

  4. 5 out of 5

    K.C.

    The section that deals most directly with June's mother's alcoholism rang true for me and felt alive and necessary. However, the bulk of the book that deals with pregnancy and early motherhood felt a bit too familiar--in the worst, entitled, aggrieved Brooklyn parenting sense. I take issue with her writing authoritatively about motherhood when he daughter is only 3, for starters. I wish the backstory of her mother's life centered the book more. The section that deals most directly with June's mother's alcoholism rang true for me and felt alive and necessary. However, the bulk of the book that deals with pregnancy and early motherhood felt a bit too familiar--in the worst, entitled, aggrieved Brooklyn parenting sense. I take issue with her writing authoritatively about motherhood when he daughter is only 3, for starters. I wish the backstory of her mother's life centered the book more.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Snow

    This book took me off-guard. I thought I was the only one who grew up with these experiences. I thought my family was so unique. To hear a life almost just like mine laid out in a book was very shocking. Such a wonderfully told story that reveals so many truths that I'm not sure others will understand. So very thankful to have stumbled across this book and glad that it was written. This book took me off-guard. I thought I was the only one who grew up with these experiences. I thought my family was so unique. To hear a life almost just like mine laid out in a book was very shocking. Such a wonderfully told story that reveals so many truths that I'm not sure others will understand. So very thankful to have stumbled across this book and glad that it was written.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Liked but wanted to love. I was frustrated by the lack of structure/organization, and I found a few grammatical errors which compounded that frustration (sorry to nit pick!). Still found the new mom parts instructive...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Clio

    This is hands-down the most relatable book about the transition to new motherhood I have ever read. This book is like having an open, honest conversation with someone who isn't trying to scare you or offend you about your birth choices or parenting choices but just telling it like it is. It's funny and relatable that Laura June bought all her favorite childhood books for her future daughter while she was pregnant, even if it would be awhile before they were all age-appropriate. I did that too. I This is hands-down the most relatable book about the transition to new motherhood I have ever read. This book is like having an open, honest conversation with someone who isn't trying to scare you or offend you about your birth choices or parenting choices but just telling it like it is. It's funny and relatable that Laura June bought all her favorite childhood books for her future daughter while she was pregnant, even if it would be awhile before they were all age-appropriate. I did that too. I guess we just want to share what we love most with the people we love lost, especially when we feel responsible for teaching those people about the world. ("I can show you the worldddd" *dances down an aisle of bookshelves in the library*) This book has so many great descriptions of what it feels like to try to become a good mother after living in your own head for a long time. It's hard to conceptualize the loss of "me-time" before it happens to you, but I think this book does a great job of talking about it. It also accurately describes the worries and silly moments and discovering occasional boredom as a virtue! I have never lived with or really had to deal with somebody with alcohol issues but that is also a huge part of this book - how Laura June's new motherhood helped evolve her relationship with the mother she lost to alcoholism. Being a mother definitely opens up new ways to see your own mother and it was really interesting to read about Laura June's unique perspective. I think all moms should read this. Also people who love their moms. And also people who have complicated relationships with their moms.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jen Mem

    I really like Laura June's writing online, but this book was poorly edited (not her fault; definitely the publisher's cost-cutting on display) and never fell into a rhythm for me. Every time she touched on something interesting, she explained it away or rationalized it as circumstantial. I just don't get why the book was written, because the "chapters" read way more like stand-alone essays. I never write reviews but I wanted to here because I don't think the book made the most/brought out the be I really like Laura June's writing online, but this book was poorly edited (not her fault; definitely the publisher's cost-cutting on display) and never fell into a rhythm for me. Every time she touched on something interesting, she explained it away or rationalized it as circumstantial. I just don't get why the book was written, because the "chapters" read way more like stand-alone essays. I never write reviews but I wanted to here because I don't think the book made the most/brought out the best of her talent.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Camryn

    It was really hard to stop reading this. I found myself relating to Laura in a lot of ways I didn’t expect, but the way she talked about growing up with an alcoholic parent really hit me hard. I wanted to have a long conversation with her after this. But, from what she wrote about him, her husband is a jerk.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Angelina

    Marketed as a memoir about her alcoholic mother and their relationship, its actually more about her having a baby and the first year of having a kid. Only sporadically does she mention memories of her mother and their interactions. I'm not a parent and don't wish to be, so reading about sleep training a baby is pretty uninteresting. Save your money, get it from the library and skim it. Marketed as a memoir about her alcoholic mother and their relationship, its actually more about her having a baby and the first year of having a kid. Only sporadically does she mention memories of her mother and their interactions. I'm not a parent and don't wish to be, so reading about sleep training a baby is pretty uninteresting. Save your money, get it from the library and skim it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Maybe I should have given this more time but, I just couldn’t. I loved the premise and the author’s bravery but it wasn’t for me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Paglia

    This was the best book I’ve read in a long time. I feel like the author and I are the same person with almost the same life. My mom recently passed away and this book is spot on.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Being fascinated with what makes people tick, and the varying lives they have lived, this played well into that curiosity. It was interesting in that for me it felt quite light and upbeat through much of the book, and then the reality of the situation hit rather hard further toward the end of the book She is speaking of the wonder and newness of being a parent to a daughter, and meanwhile contemplating deeply her extreme hardship with her mother's alcoholism as well as her deep love of her. A lo Being fascinated with what makes people tick, and the varying lives they have lived, this played well into that curiosity. It was interesting in that for me it felt quite light and upbeat through much of the book, and then the reality of the situation hit rather hard further toward the end of the book She is speaking of the wonder and newness of being a parent to a daughter, and meanwhile contemplating deeply her extreme hardship with her mother's alcoholism as well as her deep love of her. A lot of reflection and honesty. The end came as a bit of a shock; but the true-to-life rationale that the steps we take, whether out of raw quick emotion or long term pondering have a long-lasting effect on our entire lives whether we're aware of it at the time. And yet the cycle of life moves on......

  14. 5 out of 5

    K2 -----

    Although I feel this book was a tad uneven and needed a better editor it was a well-written and candid look at one woman's relationships with her mother's flaws as she begins her own life as a mother in her mid-thirties. This is a frank look at the challenges of adjusting to being a mother in the modern world, even one who has more options for hiring help, it is a sea change. It is perhaps a cautionary tale to those later in life who think that they have the energy to keep up with a child's dema Although I feel this book was a tad uneven and needed a better editor it was a well-written and candid look at one woman's relationships with her mother's flaws as she begins her own life as a mother in her mid-thirties. This is a frank look at the challenges of adjusting to being a mother in the modern world, even one who has more options for hiring help, it is a sea change. It is perhaps a cautionary tale to those later in life who think that they have the energy to keep up with a child's demands and the ability to put their own life routines behind those of their child. The book is a great service to new mothers who have emotions they may feel are theirs only but are common as they readjust to their own needs coming last. Laura June is smart and sassy. I would guess she has had plenty of professional help to process her adverse childhood experienced. I'd love to meet her if she would kick the cancer sticks. Her voice is fresh and holds the reader's attention, you will not want to put it down. I look forward to reading more of her writing in the future and will look into her articles.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Rounding up. This memoir reflects on new motherhood through the lens of a woman whose mother was an alcoholic. As a fellow mother of a young daughter (her daughter was born in '14), I'd be interested in the sequel. Maybe a book, maybe essays--the parent/child relationship changes so much over time, and I'm sure the author would have much to say as her daughter becomes a teenager, young adult, perhaps becomes a mother herself. I often find myself reading memoirs and wishing the person had waited Rounding up. This memoir reflects on new motherhood through the lens of a woman whose mother was an alcoholic. As a fellow mother of a young daughter (her daughter was born in '14), I'd be interested in the sequel. Maybe a book, maybe essays--the parent/child relationship changes so much over time, and I'm sure the author would have much to say as her daughter becomes a teenager, young adult, perhaps becomes a mother herself. I often find myself reading memoirs and wishing the person had waited another 10-20 years to write it. But this has a lot going on, even though the author is quite young. Although my relationship with my mother was quite different, I was sorry to relate to losing a mother, and the feeling of getting a phone call and traveling home with the knowledge, planning a funeral, etc.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Célèste

    Really lovely and compelling to read. More multi-generational portrait than narrative, which isn't a bad thing at all. This book is simple and the language is very precise and straight-forward. The woman can write, but she's not going for stylized prose. The whole thing is just completely understated in a nice way. She makes it look easy. I admire her generous and honest reflection. Anyone looking to write memoir could learn a lot by studying the structure, pacing, and other techniques on displa Really lovely and compelling to read. More multi-generational portrait than narrative, which isn't a bad thing at all. This book is simple and the language is very precise and straight-forward. The woman can write, but she's not going for stylized prose. The whole thing is just completely understated in a nice way. She makes it look easy. I admire her generous and honest reflection. Anyone looking to write memoir could learn a lot by studying the structure, pacing, and other techniques on display.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn E

    Passionate and heartfelt memoir of motherhood that doesn't quite have the bones to hold up its big concepts. June's writing rings true and will win you over, but as a whole it comes off a little slapdash and repetitive. I found myself groaning, "you already told us this, we know!" more than once. It may resonate more with mothers, however. Passionate and heartfelt memoir of motherhood that doesn't quite have the bones to hold up its big concepts. June's writing rings true and will win you over, but as a whole it comes off a little slapdash and repetitive. I found myself groaning, "you already told us this, we know!" more than once. It may resonate more with mothers, however.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Bagai

    Now my heart is full (title is ironic -- from a Smiths song) is a pregnancy / parenting memoir, that actually finds most value as an alcoholic-mother memoir. Certainly engaging at the time, but not transcendent.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Nicely done, just not what I was in the mood for.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Sandham Mathwin

    Engaging and well written. For many complicated reasons, I choose not to become a parent so there were many aspects in the memoir that I couldn't personally relate to but this did not hinder my enjoyment of the book. In addition to her honesty about having a troubled (but loving) mother, I appreciated her honesty regarding how difficult motherhood can be even when you are a thirtysomething adult, the pregnancy is planned, you have a supportive partner and financial resources. I think many women Engaging and well written. For many complicated reasons, I choose not to become a parent so there were many aspects in the memoir that I couldn't personally relate to but this did not hinder my enjoyment of the book. In addition to her honesty about having a troubled (but loving) mother, I appreciated her honesty regarding how difficult motherhood can be even when you are a thirtysomething adult, the pregnancy is planned, you have a supportive partner and financial resources. I think many women are hesitant to admit this as they are concerned that it will somehow negate their love for their child but from my admittedly outside perspective they (your love for your child and the fact that parenting-particularly motherhood-is tough) are separate things. Thankfully, there seems to be less stigma now than there was in the past about admitting that you can love your child dearly and be very thankful to have had him/her while also struggling at times with the total change in lifestyle. I also appreciated the fact that Ms. June was not negative towards those of us who are not parents. When I saw this book at the library I almost did not check it out because I thought that it might be patronizing towards women without kids-I was glad that wasn't the case.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I was hoping for more from this book. I was hoping to see some reflection on the author’s memories growing up with her mother and the relationship she has with her daughter now. There seemed to be no understanding of her mother and why she was the way she was. There wasn’t any “ my mom was this way and because of the way she was, she did these things as a result of that.” In other words, as a mother who had complicated relationships with my parents, I find myself in situations with my daughter t I was hoping for more from this book. I was hoping to see some reflection on the author’s memories growing up with her mother and the relationship she has with her daughter now. There seemed to be no understanding of her mother and why she was the way she was. There wasn’t any “ my mom was this way and because of the way she was, she did these things as a result of that.” In other words, as a mother who had complicated relationships with my parents, I find myself in situations with my daughter that remind me of the way things were handled as I was growing up. I can look back and see why they were done that way based on my adult understanding and perspective and from that, I can adjust and be a different, hopefully better, parent. The author recounts her relationship with her mother but I didn’t see her make any ties with her own parenting style. Her daughter is very young- 2 years I believe- when this was written so the author may not have had those epiphany moments yet that come with age and experience.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    A good little memoir. June thinks back on her turbulent upbringing with a mostly-functioning alcoholic mother as she welcomes her own daughter (and first child) into the world at the age of 35. I read so many memoirs about abusive and extremely addicted parents, but those are notable situations. It was a necessary change of pace to read someone's story that portrays a more common situation-- alcoholic parents are something that many people have to deal with. There are a LOT of details about pregna A good little memoir. June thinks back on her turbulent upbringing with a mostly-functioning alcoholic mother as she welcomes her own daughter (and first child) into the world at the age of 35. I read so many memoirs about abusive and extremely addicted parents, but those are notable situations. It was a necessary change of pace to read someone's story that portrays a more common situation-- alcoholic parents are something that many people have to deal with. There are a LOT of details about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum life so I would only recommend to someone interesting in reading about those things in detail. A lot of detail.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kelsie Oreta

    I read memoir to hear unique stories from an individual’s perspective and to receive their insight about the experiences they’ve had. For the first 150 or so pages, this book gave me neither. I found myself rushing through and skimming paragraphs to get through the parts about child rearing, which read like the longest opinion piece in Parent’s magazine ever and were no different than any other first-time mom musings. I feel the author wasn’t vulnerable in the pages and it read as if she was shel I read memoir to hear unique stories from an individual’s perspective and to receive their insight about the experiences they’ve had. For the first 150 or so pages, this book gave me neither. I found myself rushing through and skimming paragraphs to get through the parts about child rearing, which read like the longest opinion piece in Parent’s magazine ever and were no different than any other first-time mom musings. I feel the author wasn’t vulnerable in the pages and it read as if she was sheltered from her mother’s alcoholism in such a way that disallowed for her to give any meat to the story. That, or she just didn’t share it with the reader.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenine

    I enjoyed bits of this. But when it came full circle and there were a few chapters about how the author feels about writing about her daughter and her experience of motherhood I felt let down. Also, just to vent my pedantic spleen, the author and her husband are not 'disagreeable' people as she writes, but 'irascible' or 'argumentative' people. Humph. I enjoyed bits of this. But when it came full circle and there were a few chapters about how the author feels about writing about her daughter and her experience of motherhood I felt let down. Also, just to vent my pedantic spleen, the author and her husband are not 'disagreeable' people as she writes, but 'irascible' or 'argumentative' people. Humph.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bettye

    In this memoir Laura June reflects on her relationship with her alcoholic mother as she becomes a mother to her own daughter. The portrait she draws of her mother is nuanced, loving and ultimately sad. However, the author is able to put her mother's struggles in perspective as she embarks on her own parental journey with maturity and wisdom. In this memoir Laura June reflects on her relationship with her alcoholic mother as she becomes a mother to her own daughter. The portrait she draws of her mother is nuanced, loving and ultimately sad. However, the author is able to put her mother's struggles in perspective as she embarks on her own parental journey with maturity and wisdom.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jiliannonemacher

    Hit all my marks: Heart growing umpteen sizes when becoming a mom Issue with own mom Alcohol and its spectrum of maladies Value of getting to know self The art of journaling / creating of all kinds Beauty in all the above :)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rosanna

    I found it strange- June told so little about her mother's alcoholism and so much of the great relationship she had with her mom it was hard to figure out why she ended up not speaking to her for a decade. I found it strange- June told so little about her mother's alcoholism and so much of the great relationship she had with her mom it was hard to figure out why she ended up not speaking to her for a decade.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susanna De

    I feel as though I have read many other books similar to this in the past few years. Its well done, but doesn't add much to he genre. I feel as though I have read many other books similar to this in the past few years. Its well done, but doesn't add much to he genre.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    3.5 stars

  30. 4 out of 5

    mcizmane

    i am a sucker for memoirs on motherhood

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