Mother Winter
An arresting memoir equal parts refugee-coming-of-age story, feminist manifesto, and meditation on motherhood, displacement, gender politics, and art that follows award-winning writer Sophia Shalmiyev’s flight from the Soviet Union, where she was forced to abandon her estranged mother, and her subsequent quest to find her.Born to a Russian mother and an Azerbaijani father, Shalmiyev was raised in the stark oppressiveness of 1980s Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). An imbalance of power and the prevalence of antisemitism in her homeland led her father to steal Shalmiyev away, emigrating to America, abandoning her estranged mother, Elena. At age eleven, Shalmiyev found herself on a plane headed west, motherless and terrified of the new world unfolding before her.Now a mother herself, in Mother Winter Shalmiyev depicts in urgent vignettes her emotional journeys as an immigrant, an artist, and a woman raised without her mother. She tells of her early days in St. Petersburg, a land unkind to women, wayward or otherwise; her tumultuous pit-stop in Italy as a refugee on her way to America; the life she built for herself in the Pacific Northwest, raising two children of her own; and ultimately, her cathartic voyage back to Russia as an adult, where she searched endlessly for the alcoholic mother she never knew. Braided into her physical journey is a metaphorical exploration of the many surrogate mothers Shalmiyev sought out in place of her own—whether in books, art, lovers, or other lost souls banded together by their misfortunes.Mother Winter is the story of Shalmiyev’s years of travel, searching, and forging meaningful connection with the worlds she occupies—the result is a searing observation of the human heart and psyche’s many shades across time and culture. As critically acclaimed author Michelle Tea says, “with sparse, poetic language Shalmiyev builds a personal history that is fractured and raw; a brilliant, lovely ache.”"Vividly awesome and truly great.” —Eileen Myles"I love this gorgeous, gutting, unforgettable book.”—Leni Zumas“A rich tapestry of autobiography and meditations on feminism, motherhood, art, and culture, this book is as intellectually satisfying as it is artistically profound. A sharply intelligent, lyrically provocative memoir.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Mother Winter Details

TitleMother Winter
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 12th, 2019
PublisherSimon Schuster
ISBN-139781501193088
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Cultural, Russia

Mother Winter Review

  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    Of the three memoirs I read this month, Mother Winter was far and away the one that hit me the hardest, which may surprise you as I've talked before about my disinterest in 'motherhood books' (only as a matter of personal taste). But I suppose Mother Winter is less of a mother book than it is a daughter book, centered on the irreconcilable grief that Sophia Shalmiyev incurred by growing up motherless. This is a sharp, focused, achingly tender and highly literary memoir that reads like a constant Of the three memoirs I read this month, Mother Winter was far and away the one that hit me the hardest, which may surprise you as I've talked before about my disinterest in 'motherhood books' (only as a matter of personal taste). But I suppose Mother Winter is less of a mother book than it is a daughter book, centered on the irreconcilable grief that Sophia Shalmiyev incurred by growing up motherless. This is a sharp, focused, achingly tender and highly literary memoir that reads like a constant gut-punch. Growing up in Leningrad in the 1980s, Shalmiyev had very little contact with her alcoholic mother, who she was forced to leave behind altogether when her father decided to emigrate in 1989. Shalmiyev spends the rest of her childhood and then adolescence and then adulthood unable to contact her mother, without any means of finding out if she's even alive or dead. Her experimental memoir (which will undoubtedly appeal to fans of Maggie Nelson) fuses her unique experience of loss with themes of exile, grief, sexuality, displacement, and feminism; she often looks to iconic feminist women as stand-in maternal figures, as she relentlessly interrogates the lacuna that comes to define her.Shalmiyev's prose is vivid and searing. In this passage she's talking about a dream she has where her mother is a statue at the bottom of the sea, and the imagery and emotional honesty on display here is rather emblematic of the rest of the book: When you're fished out, you will go to your proper place in a museum to be admired by me only. I will polish your bronze name plaque, and I will be writing the small paragraph, printed on heavy card stock in a tastefully solemn font, about you as a priceless relic, a found shard, degraded, a puzzling piece of history. A head lost, bust found somewhere, a battered woman with blank eyes, erected by those who had infinite worship in their hearts. My one criticism is the overly abrupt ending, which leaves the reader with question after unanswered question. I obviously have to ask myself if that was indeed the point, which is certainly a possibility, but this is one of those books that seems so mired in the past that there isn't much consideration for the future, and I'm left wondering what Shalmiyev intends to do after the final pages of this book. But, perhaps she does not owe us that explanation, or perhaps we will have to wait until she writes another book. Which I certainly hope she will.Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review. I will check the quote against a finished copy upon publication.
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    By all accounts, I should have loved this book as it ticks all my boxes; I generally enjoy memoirs written by women and those that focus a mother-daughter relationship particularly, I love memoirs that are told mostly unchronologically and academically, hell, I adored the first sentences (“Russian sentences begin backwards. When I learned English well enough to love it, I realized my inner tongue was running in the wrong direction.”) but somehow this did not translate into me getting on with the By all accounts, I should have loved this book as it ticks all my boxes; I generally enjoy memoirs written by women and those that focus a mother-daughter relationship particularly, I love memoirs that are told mostly unchronologically and academically, hell, I adored the first sentences (“Russian sentences begin backwards. When I learned English well enough to love it, I realized my inner tongue was running in the wrong direction.”) but somehow this did not translate into me getting on with the book.Sophia Shalmiyev tells of her relationship with her mother, or rather of her relationship of the hole that her mother left in her life. Drawing on literature and theory and many things in between she attempts to paint a picture of that fundamental loss in her life. Born in Soviet era Leningrad to an abusive father and alcoholic mother, Sophia struggles with the sense of loss incurred by her father kicking out her mother and then later emigrating to the US without her.I did find her language clumsy but not in a way that improved my reading experience (which odd sentence structure sometimes can do for me as it makes me read slowly and carefully); now, I am not a native speaker so this might very well be a fault with me rather than with the book. For a book this abstract and intensely introspective, I would have liked the language to be sharper and more precise though (something that Maggie Nelson – whose work this has been compared to – does without a fail). There was also an abundance of metaphors here that did not work for me at all and usually took me out of the reading flow (for example: “The decade is a bronze disease patina – the green paste – on a doorbell that rings when you show up, and you do not show up very often.”). In the end, while I am not usually somebody who judges books on a sentence to sentence basis, I seem to have done so with this book, which lost me early with its vagueness in prose and never recaptured my interest.I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. You can find this review and other thoughts on books on my blog.
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  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    After her alcoholic mother lost custody of ten-year-old Sophia Shalmiyev, her father emigrated with her from Leningrad to the United States - as they left the USSR in 1989, Shalmiyev not only lost her biological mother, but her home country collapsed and vanished behind her. In her memoir, which is also the author's literary debut, we learn about Shalmiyev's childhood and adolescence which were overshadowed by her mother's illness and excess as well as her father's violence, about her trip back After her alcoholic mother lost custody of ten-year-old Sophia Shalmiyev, her father emigrated with her from Leningrad to the United States - as they left the USSR in 1989, Shalmiyev not only lost her biological mother, but her home country collapsed and vanished behind her. In her memoir, which is also the author's literary debut, we learn about Shalmiyev's childhood and adolescence which were overshadowed by her mother's illness and excess as well as her father's violence, about her trip back to (now) St. Petersburg to find her lost mother as well as her journey to become a mother herself. While the story is certainly affecting and interesting, what sets this memoir apart is the lyrical composition of the text - which is unfortunately also the source of some of its problems. But first things first: I applaud Shalmiyev for being daring and ambitious, for venturing out into poetry, art and history and for trying to find a unique und recognizable voice. I rather see someone aim for something bold and courageous and maybe not quite getting there (yet), instead of reading a text which is suffocated by conventionalism - and you certainly can't accuse this author for being overtly conventional. The two dominant narrative strategies Shalmiyev employs are playing with poetic images and ideas - like numbers or descriptions of nature - and making connections to famous people, often women, from Sappho to Aileen Wuornos and Malala. And of course there is the underlying theme of the lost mother, which is at the center of the whole text (the book cover shows a picture of her). Especially the poetic images are sometimes overreaching and underline how hard this author is trying - again, I want my writers to work hard, but some of the numerous vignettes are just overdone and make the writing feel forced (I can't quote from the text because I have an ARC). Authors like Terese Marie Mailhot show that it is possible to write a highly poetic memoir without falling into these traps. Still, this book is well worth reading, as it is surely fascinating to follow Shalmiyev in her lyrical adventure. I think this author has the potential to one day write a novel that will blow all of us away. Until then, you can also have a look at the pictures on her website which illustrate some scenes in "Mother Winter": https://www.sophiashalmiyev.com/about/ (scroll down!)
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  • Rene Denfeld
    January 1, 1970
    I dashed to get this memoir after reading an amazing article about it by Chelsea Bieker in Electric Literature. Typical to me, I gulped it down in a few days (is there a surefire way to make yourself read slower? I read too fast). This is an amazing memoir. It's a seamless tapestry of vignettes about the missing mother—the missing, aching core—of Shalmiyev's life. Mother love is both romanticized and reputed in our culture: romanticized in both demands for perfection, and reputed in how we actua I dashed to get this memoir after reading an amazing article about it by Chelsea Bieker in Electric Literature. Typical to me, I gulped it down in a few days (is there a surefire way to make yourself read slower? I read too fast). This is an amazing memoir. It's a seamless tapestry of vignettes about the missing mother—the missing, aching core—of Shalmiyev's life. Mother love is both romanticized and reputed in our culture: romanticized in both demands for perfection, and reputed in how we actually treat it. Shalmiyev does a brilliant job of not just showing how deeply important the mother bond, but helping us feel its loss, the turning-away of a society that proclaims to support mothers and children but rarely actually does...and the deeply abiding shame we install in motherless children. I highly recommend this memoir.
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  • Donna Davis
    January 1, 1970
    I'm crying uncle. I cannot do this. I read the first quarter of the book, which is wall-to-wall rage and violence, much of it sexual, and explicitly so. There's a tremendous amount of potential here, because Shalmiyev is a true word smith. But when a writer mines her pain and rage to create a narrative, there still needs to be pacing, and there still needs to be an arc. This memoir, which I picked up again at the 80% mark but still didn't finish, is dialed into the maximum-horror setting from th I'm crying uncle. I cannot do this. I read the first quarter of the book, which is wall-to-wall rage and violence, much of it sexual, and explicitly so. There's a tremendous amount of potential here, because Shalmiyev is a true word smith. But when a writer mines her pain and rage to create a narrative, there still needs to be pacing, and there still needs to be an arc. This memoir, which I picked up again at the 80% mark but still didn't finish, is dialed into the maximum-horror setting from the get go to the end--or at least, till the 85% mark, which is where I permitted myself to quit for real. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes horror is better conveyed by building up to it than by pummeling one's readers on page one and swinging unremittingly clean through. I hope it was cathartic for the writer, because I don't think it's going to make her rich. Apologies to Net Galley and Simon and Schuster for taking a galley I couldn't read in its entirety, and yet I suspect I am not alone.
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  • *TUDOR^QUEEN*
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 17%
  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    Sophia Shalmiyev starts her story pining for her absent Russian mother and then pivots through other parts of her unmoored life with the spark of a poet and the fire of an immigrant riot grrrl. This isn't the tightest memoir in the world but screw tidiness; when Shalmiyev deliberately drives her story off the rails it's in the most sensational and entertaining style. The parts about her own experiences as a mother and her early years in the northwest are vivid and moving. There's also a nice sma Sophia Shalmiyev starts her story pining for her absent Russian mother and then pivots through other parts of her unmoored life with the spark of a poet and the fire of an immigrant riot grrrl. This isn't the tightest memoir in the world but screw tidiness; when Shalmiyev deliberately drives her story off the rails it's in the most sensational and entertaining style. The parts about her own experiences as a mother and her early years in the northwest are vivid and moving. There's also a nice smattering of shout-outs to other artists that have influenced the author. A lot of stuff packed into these pages. A wild memoir by a great Portland writer.
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  • Ygraine
    January 1, 1970
    mother winter is something adjacent to but not entirely like a memoir; it feels more like a sort of curation of tapes, recorded pieces of thought cut out of the fabric of a life and grafted together, played into a slight graininess and, at times, an almost incomprehensibility, homophonous sounds tripping the tongue and the mind. reading it is a dizzying, an unsettling experience - shalmiyev is writing about the vast unanswerability of being an exile, a refugee, a motherless daughter, a woman, a mother winter is something adjacent to but not entirely like a memoir; it feels more like a sort of curation of tapes, recorded pieces of thought cut out of the fabric of a life and grafted together, played into a slight graininess and, at times, an almost incomprehensibility, homophonous sounds tripping the tongue and the mind. reading it is a dizzying, an unsettling experience - shalmiyev is writing about the vast unanswerability of being an exile, a refugee, a motherless daughter, a woman, a body and mind inscribed by trauma, abuse and loss, and her use of structure and of voice challenge the reader to understand what cannot be understood.in many ways, mother winter shares fellow-feeling with jacqueline rose's mothers: an essay on love and cruelty: both are writing about the contradictions, the repressions, the cultural and personal anger that haunt our relationships with mothers as people, and with motherhood as a role, and both try, through the messiness and sometimes-pain-sometimes-pleasure of their own lived experiences, to make sense of themselves as mothers. but where rose is constructing an academic argument, building slowly but inexorably a sort of holistic perspective that, while it cannot resolve motherhood itself, can challenge the social structures and cultural representations that distort and damage our ability to see it for what it is, shalmiyev is making something entirely different, something that i'm not sure there are easy words for. it is elliptical, her sentences jarring in their subject changes and often fragmented, moving from remembered events to lists of related but never fully connected thoughts to pieces of cultural material, literature, art, philosophy. it is unrelenting in its demands of the reader - it is awfully, viscerally raw in tone and almost violent in its refusal to be easy, either to read or to imagine. i'm not sure what to call it as a project, or how exactly to think about my response to it, but i'm fascinated and repulsed and saddened, and doubt i'll forget it easily.i received an advanced reader's copy of this book courtesy of netgalley and simon & schuster in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Nicole Swinson
    January 1, 1970
    This is Sophia’s debut book; a memoir of her life and I feel memoirs cannot be given ratings like a fictional book, because this is her story, she lived it and she is gifting it to us and I am grateful she did. Release Date February 2019Sophia elegantly and lyrically takes us on the journey of her life, what it was like for her to live without her mother. A mother she was taken from; because her mother was an alcoholic. A father she was forced to live with, a father who was abusive and took her This is Sophia’s debut book; a memoir of her life and I feel memoirs cannot be given ratings like a fictional book, because this is her story, she lived it and she is gifting it to us and I am grateful she did. Release Date February 2019Sophia elegantly and lyrically takes us on the journey of her life, what it was like for her to live without her mother. A mother she was taken from; because her mother was an alcoholic. A father she was forced to live with, a father who was abusive and took her from Russia without her every seeing her mother again. The longing of a child and the questions of why constantly being there. All of the adversity did not break her, it made her strong and it gave her an amazing outlook on not just life but being a woman and a mother. I loved everything about Sophia’s book, it is raw and honest and very relatable. I felt all her pain and her highs and lows. When she was hungry, I felt her hunger, when she was describing what it was like to be unkept, I wept for her. What I loved the most is the use of vignettes; I have not read a memoir that has used them and tied them in so beautifully that I got lost in reading them. I found comfort and strength in her words, being a woman and reading another woman’s life story is empowering.
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  • Janelle • She Reads with Cats
    January 1, 1970
    RTC
  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    via my blog:https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Hall of Fame. Hall of Shame. That’s Motherhood…'This is a memoir of longing and love for one’s absent mother, as if when Sophia Shalmiyer left her native Russia in the 1980’s for America a decade later, in her Azerbaijani father’s care whom she called a ‘benevolent dictator’, she too was forced to divorce her mother. “It was too risky to ask for her and be denied so I didn’t say her name much.” Yet for so long, she had ‘no body’ without her moth via my blog:https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Hall of Fame. Hall of Shame. That’s Motherhood…'This is a memoir of longing and love for one’s absent mother, as if when Sophia Shalmiyer left her native Russia in the 1980’s for America a decade later, in her Azerbaijani father’s care whom she called a ‘benevolent dictator’, she too was forced to divorce her mother. “It was too risky to ask for her and be denied so I didn’t say her name much.” Yet for so long, she had ‘no body’ without her mother. Who grounds us in our bodies more? While Sophia was still in her homeland, her mother was already failing at motherhood, certainly in the Hall of Shame category more than Hall of Fame. Women are forgiven nothing, especially in the 1980’s Soviet Union she spent her childhood, where her alcoholic mother was ‘pickled in the brain’, is judged far more inferior to any man who struggles with alcoholism. Of course her father gets to keep her. A father, who tries to ‘heal’ his little girl when she comes home from boarding school on weekends, who has an inconsolable need for her absent mother, the body hungry for her loving touch and nurturing. Stuck at that school so that she’ll be safe from the threat of that very mother showing up, she deals with bullying, unkempt as she is standing out like an outcast and many ailments. Her body as undernourished as her hungry heart. Sophia ruminates over the state of motherlessness, and explores feminism through time, reminding us of how the blame always falls to the mother, even if she does everything ‘right’ by societal standards. That women, even those we admire for their boundless talent are still caving into men, letting their bodies betray their intelligence. How she was unable to fill the space her mother’s absence occupied until she herself was a mother and could give them all that love she never got to feel. Yet her mother’s blood courses through her still, that urge to flee and trickles into her own babies, just like eye-color and height.For Shalmiyev, she chases her mother through time, a woman who may be dead, how would she even know? A mother who one time demanded to know her young daughter’s whereabouts but was denied because another man, her ex husband’s brother, decided she be ‘kept in the dark’ because she was in a bad place, wasn’t sober, judged and found wanting. Men, making decisions for women without one thought for their own wants and needs. A mother that has been smudged, remnants of her appearing only in the mirror as Sophia grows up, looking at her reflection.“I would like to wear an equivalent of a medical alert bracelet: I lost my mother and I cannot find her- née Danilova.This is poignant, “why can’t it be both ways? Why do mothers have to be forgotten or brave like soldiers?” Her mother is erased, for being a drunken mess, a failed mother and in that erasure a life is shaped, a motherless future for Sophia. The days in Russia are vastly different from her next life, coming of age in America where standing out and being ‘special’ is praised, not like in the Soviet Union where everyone is meant to be the same, where choices are limited. But before that, as a preteen refugee in Italy she loses so much of her innocence. Her father fails her too.In America there is Luda, a stand-in mother of sorts, one of her father’s Ukranian girlfriend’s that comes to join them from Russia. Only 12 years older she is in between being a mother and a sister for Sophia. There is love and rivalry between them, another person who doesn’t want to hear tell of Sophia’s mother, whom in Luda’s eyes is nothing but trash, whorish. Of course as her sole female role model, she wants to be the only mother in Sophia’s heart, jealous even of the longing she feels.Later there will be work at a peep show in her twenties, hanging out in the music and art scene in Seattle, as hostility settles over her, gifted at leaving her body when she needs to and being present when she chooses, something she mastered far sooner than anyone should. She is in danger of becoming her mother for a while, until she finds a life in New York and a career.Jumping time lines do not always work but when they’re done intelligently it flows and isn’t a disruption. I think it’s just right here! The flashbacks in time feed into the future and situations trigger memories of the past. I like that it’s not just a sad memoir about wishing for one’s mother, that Shalmiyev confronts the world women and young girls live in. The flashbacks of her childhood in the Soviet Union are eye-opening, I find myself devouring stories about that world, so foreign to my own childhood. Against her father’s wishes she eventually goes back to Russia to find her mother.There are tales of abuse in here, and it’s gut-wrenching not just for the act itself but for the simplicity of such a life-altering transgression. Abuses on women and children are so casual in our world, aren’t they? Sometimes when you re-evaluate the past, things that you never questioned with your child’s mind send alarm bells all throughout your adult soul. Certainly what happened to her during her short time in Italy is haunting. This was an engaging memoir. Dislocation isn’t always about the physical body, it can be the soul and in Sophia Shalmiyev’s case it’s both. Her mother is her phantom limb that causes a constant ache. How do you make peace trying to understand mother as an archetype and compare you own, so deeply flawed, a crumbling cold statue on the pedestal of your memory? How is a woman meant to define herself, carve a self out of the discarded parts of her own mother when she was off limits to her? In the end, do we ever have closure, solid answers when chasing a ghost?Publication Date: February 12, 2019Simon & Schuster
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  • Heather Brown
    January 1, 1970
    So excited to have landed a galley of Mother Winter! This book reads like a dream where you're constantly reaching for something or someone, with a cold, lyrical beauty I want to fall backward into like it's a moonlit snowdrift. I'm lost and found each time I open it.
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  • Sara - thelookingglassreads
    January 1, 1970
    What if the name of the town and country you were born in changed after you left? What if you lived in three different countries within a year right before you hit puberty? What if your native tongue had to twist to shout new sounds, trying to touch the top of your teeth to say the word teeth in front of a classroom of predictably cruel seventh-grade girls? What if the only word, the only name, the only place that remained constant was Ma? Mama, mama, mama, said so many times that it broke off a What if the name of the town and country you were born in changed after you left? What if you lived in three different countries within a year right before you hit puberty? What if your native tongue had to twist to shout new sounds, trying to touch the top of your teeth to say the word teeth in front of a classroom of predictably cruel seventh-grade girls? What if the only word, the only name, the only place that remained constant was Ma? Mama, mama, mama, said so many times that it broke off and became half of itself, just Ma, no breath left to give to a whole word, so you speak the end or the beginning only." Mother Winter, Sophia ShalmiyevSophia Shalmiyev weaves a memoir out of her life without a mother, becoming a mother herself, and the longing, murky waters of her childhood.The words within this memoir will have me thinking about it in the days, months, and years to come. Not just from her dejected childhood and her scraping memory and search for her mother, but from her prose, somehow both elegant and full of grease and grit. Throughout Sophia's story, the themes of feminism and motherhood are strong, as well as her growing up in Leningrad with her father and step-mother, her mother always a blink away from her thoughts and actions.I find myself wondering, how did I ever go through the day without Shalmiyev's memoir? Such a shallow and reductive thought, but it's still there.Thank you so much to @simonandschuster for the gorgeous copy! #partnerTrigger warnings for domestic abuse, sexual assault, abandonment, substance abuse.
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  • Cameron
    January 1, 1970
    I was instantly riveted by this book. I love the structure-- sparse, poetic, vignettes. I was especially impressed by the construction of the child-narrator in the book's first half--she was alive on the page, vulnerable, curious, hungry for love. For anyone interested in the plight of the refusnik's-- Jew's who left the Soviet Union as refugees in the late 80s-- this is especially compelling, but what resonated even deeper with this reader was the narrator's longing for her mother, a longing th I was instantly riveted by this book. I love the structure-- sparse, poetic, vignettes. I was especially impressed by the construction of the child-narrator in the book's first half--she was alive on the page, vulnerable, curious, hungry for love. For anyone interested in the plight of the refusnik's-- Jew's who left the Soviet Union as refugees in the late 80s-- this is especially compelling, but what resonated even deeper with this reader was the narrator's longing for her mother, a longing that turns toward replacement figures as she gets older--sometimes lovers, sometimes writers, and artists. A beautiful book.
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  • Diana
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful memoir woven from poetic fragments
  • Mor Keshet
    January 1, 1970
    I spent the day yesterday reading Mother Winter- I was captivated. The structure and pace that Shalmiyev conjures brought me into that traumatized, dissonant space that is the drumbeat of this book. Mother Winter has a singular rhythm, woven together in a dynamic, profoundly sad - and hopeful - fabric. I read sentences again and again - they will stay with me for years to come. A stunning, deeply thoughtful and inspiring debut.
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  • Genevieve Hudson
    January 1, 1970
    The sentences in this book are gorgeous and gutting. I'm so glad I read this book. It brought me closer to myself while bringing me closer to the wider world. It reminded me why I read.
  • Marissa Korbel
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best books I read in 2018. Complicated, lyrical, funny, haunting. Shalmiyev smashes.
  • Mindy Sue
    January 1, 1970
    Mother Winter is magic. I appreciate books that don't follow a standard format and I found Sophia's writing style engaging and beautiful. This book is a spell and a love letter and so much more. I happily received it's potent medicine and, as a motherless daughter, this book feels personally important to me. I feel very seen and held in the myriad ways that only other motherless daughters can provide. I am absolutely here for this book!! I'm delighted that, Sophia's book was published in it's au Mother Winter is magic. I appreciate books that don't follow a standard format and I found Sophia's writing style engaging and beautiful. This book is a spell and a love letter and so much more. I happily received it's potent medicine and, as a motherless daughter, this book feels personally important to me. I feel very seen and held in the myriad ways that only other motherless daughters can provide. I am absolutely here for this book!! I'm delighted that, Sophia's book was published in it's authenticity and wasn't watered down or shape shifted into something else "safer". I felt empowered by how she examined her life and detailed those around her. In connecting with Mother Winter, I realized that, it's been a while since I actually felt infatuated and pulled into a memoir (or any book, honestly) in this way. The realness here is alluring and had me staying up until 3am-promising to read just one more chapter, over and over. I am grateful that Sophia brought her story into the world and gave words to this experience. Thank you, I see you. I can't wait for your next book.
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  • Abby Kincer
    January 1, 1970
    Follow me on Instagram @bookmarkedbya and see my full review at https://bookmarkedbya.wordpress.com/2... The piercingly personal memoir of Shalmiyev’s life and lifelong desire to know and understand her mother.•Sophia was born into poverty in Soviet-era Russia, and into a painfully difficult childhood. Her mother abused alcohol and was soon stripped of her parental custody. Her father was well-intentioned but neglectful, forcing her to be her own caretaker - both physically and emotionally - and Follow me on Instagram @bookmarkedbya and see my full review at https://bookmarkedbya.wordpress.com/2... The piercingly personal memoir of Shalmiyev’s life and lifelong desire to know and understand her mother.•Sophia was born into poverty in Soviet-era Russia, and into a painfully difficult childhood. Her mother abused alcohol and was soon stripped of her parental custody. Her father was well-intentioned but neglectful, forcing her to be her own caretaker - both physically and emotionally - and instilling in her a lifelong desire to be loved and cared for in a way that only a mother can. This is a coming-of-age, a feminist manifesto, and the story of what happens when what you don’t have becomes the only thing you ever needed.•Mother Winter is not merely a book; it is a piece of art. Shalmiyev’s life is nothing short of fascinating, and you will be engrossed in the traumatic experiences of her childhood, the hope and liberation of her teens and twenties, and the quiet revolution of her life as a mother. Throughout all of her life stages, one thing stays the same - she yearns for knowledge and a relationship with her mother. Deeply poetic, personal, and abstract, this is not an easy read, but it is worthwhile.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    A Gutting, Poetic and Brilliant Memoir!•Memoirs like this affirm why Memoir is my favorite genre!The way Shalmiyev has constructed her life story is so alluring. How she grew up without a mother and the emptiness and longing that created to then becoming a mother herself, with reflections on her tramatic childhood and her journey of emigrating to America with her neglectful father.This is seriously one of the best memoirs I have ever read. It's beautiful written with intoxicating prose! It's gut A Gutting, Poetic and Brilliant Memoir!•Memoirs like this affirm why Memoir is my favorite genre!The way Shalmiyev has constructed her life story is so alluring. How she grew up without a mother and the emptiness and longing that created to then becoming a mother herself, with reflections on her tramatic childhood and her journey of emigrating to America with her neglectful father.This is seriously one of the best memoirs I have ever read. It's beautiful written with intoxicating prose! It's gutting, poetic and brilliant! I will be thinking about this one for a long while. A must read!•Thank You to the Publisher for sending me this ARC.•For more of my book content check out instagram.com/bookalong
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    It's always hard to review a memoir because you are commenting on someone's life. In this case, I think there's a terrific story here but the method of telling it was not, at least for me. It's unconventional, to be sure, to write a memoir comprising fragments of poetry and vignettes. Oh and feminist figures. It can also be challenging for the reader to follow. Shalmiyev has written thoughtfully about the loss of and search for her mother, who was left behind in the USSR as she and her father em It's always hard to review a memoir because you are commenting on someone's life. In this case, I think there's a terrific story here but the method of telling it was not, at least for me. It's unconventional, to be sure, to write a memoir comprising fragments of poetry and vignettes. Oh and feminist figures. It can also be challenging for the reader to follow. Shalmiyev has written thoughtfully about the loss of and search for her mother, who was left behind in the USSR as she and her father emigrated to the US. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. This is worth reading if you enjoy experimental formats.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    This book ripped my heart out over and over again and pieced it back together haphazardly shoving the fragments back into my body. While I cannot relate to most of the authors life, the bits about being a mother without a mother hit home the hardest. Excuse me, I feel compelled to read every last book cited in the bibliography. I would also very much like to drink too much with the author and talk music and books and talk shit.
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  • Janilyn Kocher
    January 1, 1970
    I found the story of the author's childhood in Russia fascinating. The author was separated from her mother when she was quite young and despite a trip back to Russia in 2004, was not able to track her down. The writing is engaging, but the organization of the story is disjointed and rambling. The author throws in references at odd junctures, which is disconcerting. It's an interesting story, but the disjointed writing made it difficult to follow. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance read.
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