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JewliciousReads: Mothers Day and Jewish Motherhood

Some of the newest Spring 2017 books for serious Mothers’ Day readers


Nancy Borowick:
The Family Imprint
A Daughter’s Portrait of Love and Loss
Photographed by Nancy Borowick

Published: May 2017

When photographer Nancy Borowick learned that her mother had Stage Four cancer, she picked up her camera and began to document the process of saying goodbye. Her father simultaneously learned that he, too, had State Four cancer. The cover of this book is a needlepoint Nancy’s father made for her mother on their wedding day. Her father succumbed to cancer at the age of 58; and 364 days later, Nancy and her family were back at the synagogue to bury her mother.

Nancy documented her parents final years as they both battled cancer simultaneously. By turning the camera on her family’s life during this most intimate time, Borowick learned a great deal about herself, family, motherhood and relationships in general. The lessons she garnered from Howie and Laurel Borowick were plentiful: always call when the airplane lands, never pass on blueberry pie, and most importantly, family is love and love is family. The New York Times wrote, “Though it is nothing she would have wished for, in a relatively short time Nancy Borowick became an expert in photographing death.” You can read an essay HERE from the NYT and another photographic essay from National Geographic HERE

“Life is a gift, and no one promised me longevity.” These are the words, spoken by Howie Borowick just a few months after he was diagnosed with inoperable stage-4 pancreatic cancer. Having lost both of his parents before his sixteenth birthday, he understood the fragility of life. He never wasted a day, thinking each would be his last and when his cancer arrived, his bucket list was empty. The only thing he was not ready to leave behind was his wife Laurel, the love of his life, who had been managing her disease—breast cancer—for over 17 years. Laurel and Howie chose to spend their last months creating new memories rather than cowering in the reality of their situation. They were married 34 years, and suddenly their time was up. Nancy photographed her parents to hold on to their memory, and to capture their essence and strength. It is a love story that she tells in this book.


Our Short History:
A Novel
by Lauren Grodstein

Spring 2017
Algonquin Books

This is Grodstein’s fifth novel. In it, she asks, how can a mother learn to let go of the people she loves the most? Karen Neulander (heading for a new land, a new passage?) is a successful New York political consultant and single mother. She gave birth to her son, Jacob alone and has raised him alone. When she told her boyfriend, Dave, that she was pregnant with Jacob, he left. But now, six years after his birth, Jake is asking to meet his father. Oh, and Karen is dying. When she finally calls her ex, she’s shocked to find Dave ecstatic about the son he never knew he had. First, he can’t meet Jake fast enough, and then he can’t seem to leave him alone. Karen quickly grows anxious as she watches Dave insinuate himself into Jake’s life just as her own strength and hold on Jake grow more tenuous. Karen wrestles with the knowledge that the only thing she cannot bring herself to do for her son — let Dave become a permanent part of his life — is the thing he needs from her the most. With heart-wrenching poignancy, unexpected wit, and mordant humor, Lauren Grodstein has created an unforgettable story about a mother. (The idea for the novel came from Grodstein’s experience in her late thirties, when it seemed cancer was around her. Her sister-in-law’s mother succumbed to ovarian cancer; her sister-in-law’s sister was diagnosed with cancer; someone from college died of cancer, leaving three children behind. So cancer became a situation on which to base the story)


MY MOTHER’S KITCHEN
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
and The Meaning of Life
by Peter Gethers


April 2017
Henry Holt

From the co producer of “Old Jews Telling Jokes,” and a scion of Ratner’s kosher dairy restaurant on Delancey street, comes a funny, moving memoir about a son’s discovery that his mother has a genius for understanding the intimate connections between cooking, people and love

Peter Gethers wants to give his aging mother a very personal and perhaps final gift: a spectacular feast featuring all her favorite dishes. The problem is, although he was raised to love food and wine he doesn’t really know how to cook. So he embarks upon an often hilarious and always touching culinary journey that will ultimately allow him to bring his mother’s friends and loved ones to the table one last time.

The daughter of a restaurateur – the restaurant was New York’s legendary Ratner’s – Judy Gethers discovered a passion for cooking in her 50s. In time, she became a mentor and friend to several of the most famous chefs in America, including Wolfgang Puck, Nancy Silverton and Jonathan Waxman; she also wrote many cookbooks and taught cooking alongside Julia Child. In her 80s, she was robbed of her ability to cook by a debilitating stroke. But illness has brought her closer than ever to her son: Peter regularly visits her so they can share meals, and he can ask questions about her colorful past, while learning her kitchen secrets. Gradually his ambition becomes manifest: he decides to learn how to cook his mother the meal of her dreams and thereby tell the story of her life to all those who have loved her. With his trademark wit and knowing eye, Peter Gethers has written an unforgettable memoir about how food and family can do much more than feed us-they can nourish our souls.

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