What We Carry
In caring for her aging mother and her own young daughter, writer Maya Shanbhag Lang--"a new voice of the highest caliber" (Rebecca Makkai)--confronts the legacy of family myths and how the stories shared between parents and children reverberate through generations: a deeply moving memoir about immigrants and their native-born children, the complicated love between mothers and daughters, and the discovery of strength.How much can you judge another woman's choices? What if that woman is your mother? Maya Shanbhag Lang grew up idolizing her brilliant mother, an accomplished physician who immigrated to the United States from India and completed her residency, all while raising her children and keeping a traditional Indian home. She had always been a source of support--until Maya became a mother herself. Then, the parent who had once been so capable and attentive turned unavailable and distant. Struggling to understand this abrupt change while raising her own young child, Maya searches for answers and soon learns that her mother is living with Alzheimer'sWhen Maya steps in to care for her, she comes to realize that despite their closeness, she never really knew her mother. Were her cherished stories--about life in India, about what it means to be an immigrant, about motherhood itself--even true? Affecting, raw, and poetic, What We Carry is the story of a daughter and her mother, of lies and truths, of receiving and giving care--and how we cannot grow up until we fully understand the people who raised us.Advance praise for What We Carry"A dazzling, courageous memoir about the weight we carry as women, daughters, and mothers--and what happens when we let go. Lang takes us deep into the heart of her relationship with her mother, a brilliant psychiatrist and Indian immigrant with long-buried secrets. After a health crisis brings mother and daughter under the same roof for the first time since childhood, Lang grapples with new information about the parent she'd idolized, and realizes it's time to tell the story of her own life. What We Carry is a love letter to everyone who has swum through turbulent water before reaching the shores of selfhood."--Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists

What We Carry Details

TitleWhat We Carry
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 28th, 2020
PublisherDial Press
ISBN-139780525512394
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography Memoir, Biography, Health

What We Carry Review

  • Camelia Rose
    January 1, 1970
    What We Carry is a memoir about the mother-daughter relationship. As a second generation immigrant, Maya Lang always idealized her hardworking, intelligent, psychiatrist mother, but when Maya gave birth to a daughter and needed her mother most, she became unavailable.Whenever it comes to mother-daughter relationship, it's complicated. In What We Carry, we read how Mary Lang reconciles the different versions her mother: the version in her mind, the version her mother used to be, and the mother What We Carry is a memoir about the mother-daughter relationship. As a second generation immigrant, Maya Lang always idealized her hardworking, intelligent, psychiatrist mother, but when Maya gave birth to a daughter and needed her mother most, she became unavailable.Whenever it comes to mother-daughter relationship, it's complicated. In What We Carry, we read how Mary Lang reconciles the different versions her mother: the version in her mind, the version her mother used to be, and the mother who gradually became after Alzheimer disease. Being a mother herself and caring for her aging mother, she is also on a journey to self-discovery.This is a book about love, acceptance and letting go. It's written in terse sentences and in present-tense, like flashes. Quotes:"We must not judge....we can not know the weight of other woman's burden, whatever a woman decides, it is not easy." "Does the demand for motherhood ever cease?"
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  • BookOfCinz
    January 1, 1970
    This is what a mothers love looks like to me. It looks like suffering. There is a story that is referred to a lot Maya Shanbhag Langs memoir, What We Carry , it is about a mother crossing a river with her son. The mother realizes that the river is much deeper than expected and she had a choice to make, save herself or save her child in a river with her son Maya and her Mother works to figure out what the mother in the story choice should be. What We Carry is writer Maya Shanbhag Langs This is what a mother’s love looks like to me. It looks like suffering. There is a story that is referred to a lot Maya Shanbhag Lang’s memoir, What We Carry , it is about a mother crossing a river with her son. The mother realizes that the river is much deeper than expected and she had a choice to make, save herself or save her child in a river with her son… Maya and her Mother works to figure out what the mother in the story choice should be. What We Carry is writer Maya Shanbhag Lang’s memoir about her relationship with her mother. It is well written, visceral, deeply moving, complicated, beautiful, nuanced and packed with so many different feelings. Maya documents what is like for her taking care of her very independent, brilliant, strong mother who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She must recreate a story in her mind to make the changes in roles easier. During her care taking Maya finds out more about her Mother’s past, things she wasn’t privy to, “secrets” that rock her to her core. This part for me really hit home, I really identified with Maya’s family, and when she wrote “I grew up with the understanding that the past was off-limits… My whole family avoided the subject. I have no idea how this unspoken pact was formed. I FELT THIS! So imagine having to take care of your mother with Alzheimer’s, who tells you her secret and you have no way of working through those emotions. This book perfectly captures in a beautiful way, motherhood and mother-daughter relationships. I was blown away but the purity of the relationship and Maya’s commitment to being authentic to her story. I highly recommend this one. What I learned reading this book I learned that pharmaceutical companies often out x and y In the product names (Xanax, Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac) because it makes them more memorable The French refers to orgasm as la petite mort
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    Digital arc via edelweiss. This is a book Ill be buying the minute it hits the shelves. Im never going to be able to do this story justice in a review, but I can say without any hesitation that its a story that will resonate with anyone who has experienced life with an aging parent. It was an emotional gut punch of the best kind. I intend to give this book a reread as it nears its release in April of 2020 and will update my thoughts at that time. For now: add this to your TBR. Its going to be Digital arc via edelweiss. This is a book I’ll be buying the minute it hits the shelves. I’m never going to be able to do this story justice in a review, but I can say without any hesitation that it’s a story that will resonate with anyone who has experienced life with an aging parent. It was an emotional gut punch of the best kind. I intend to give this book a reread as it nears its release in April of 2020 and will update my thoughts at that time. For now: add this to your TBR. It’s going to be worth it.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Maya Langs novel The Sixteenth of June* was one of my top three novels of 2014, so I was eager to read her next book, a forthright memoir of finding herself in the uncomfortable middle (the sandwich generation) of three generations of a female family line. Her parents had traveled from India to the USA for her mothers medical training and ended up staying on permanently after she became a psychiatrist. Lang had always thought of her mother as a superwoman who managed a career alongside Maya Lang’s novel The Sixteenth of June* was one of my top three novels of 2014, so I was eager to read her next book, a forthright memoir of finding herself in the uncomfortable middle (the “sandwich generation”) of three generations of a female family line. Her parents had traveled from India to the USA for her mother’s medical training and ended up staying on permanently after she became a psychiatrist. Lang had always thought of her mother as a superwoman who managed a career alongside parenthood, never asked for help, and reinvented herself through a divorce and a career change.When Lang gave birth to her own daughter, Zoe, this model of self-sufficiency mocked her when she had postpartum depression and needed to hire a baby nurse. It was in her daughter’s early days, just when she needed her mother’s support the most, that her mother started being unreliable: fearful and forgetful. Gradually it became clear that she had early-onset Alzheimer’s. Lang cared for her mother at home for a year before making the difficult decision to see her settled into a nearby nursing home.Like Elizabeth Hay’s All Things Consoled, this is an engaging, bittersweet account of obligation, choices and the secrets that sometimes come out when a parent enters a mental decline. I especially liked how Lang frames her experiences around an Indian folktale of a woman who enters a rising river, her child in her arms. She must decide between saving her child or herself. Her mother first told this story soon after Zoe’s birth to acknowledge life’s ambiguity: “Until we are in the river, up to our shoulders—until we are in that position ourselves, we cannot say what the woman will do. We must not judge. That is the lesson of the story. Whatever a woman decides, it is not easy.” The book is a journey of learning not to judge her mother (or herself), of learning to love despite mistakes and personality changes. *One for me to reread in mid-June!Full disclosure: Maya and I are Facebook friends.Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.
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  • Nadia
    January 1, 1970
    Maybe at our most maternal, we arent mothers at all. Were daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish wed had and then finding ourselves. What begins as a self-reflected motherhood becomes an externalized motherhood, becoming mother to a mother, and discovering that mothers are not perfect. This might not be a shock to most people, but it was to Lang, who discovers things about her mother that fundamentally alter everything she knew about how her mother survived, planned, and lived “Maybe at our most maternal, we aren’t mothers at all. We’re daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we’d had and then finding ourselves.” What begins as a self-reflected motherhood becomes an externalized motherhood, becoming mother to a mother, and discovering that mothers are not perfect. This might not be a shock to most people, but it was to Lang, who discovers things about her mother that fundamentally alter everything she knew about how her mother survived, planned, and lived her day-to-day life in her years after immigrating to the United States from India. In reckoning with those new truths, Lang faces the lies that shaped her into the person she is today, and the consequences, both positive and negative, that those stories had on her life. Throughout, however, she is resistant to judge harshly her own mother, recognizing how harshly mothers are judged in general, a point driven home by the occasional repetition of an old tale her mother had told her about a mother wading across a river with her baby. When the water becomes too deep, the mother has to make a choice: herself or her child. Neither choice brings praise, both condemnation. But there is no answer, until you are the mother wading in the river. Lang finds a way to choose both herself, her child, and her mother, in a beautiful memoir that I can’t wait to recommend to everyone I know.I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley
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  • Claudia Silk
    January 1, 1970
    This is a gorgeously written memoir about mothers and daughters. The writing was not only so beautiful but so many things resonated deep within me. Highly recommend for all mothers or daughters.
  • Susie Dumond
    January 1, 1970
    "Maybe at our most maternal, we aren't mothers at all. We're daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we'd had and then finding ourselves."Maya Shanbhag Lang always idolized her mother, a brilliant physician who immigrated from India to the U.S. But then a change in her mothers temperament led to an Alzheimers diagnosis. As she took on her mother and young daughters care, Lang learned that despite their closeness, there was much to learn about her mothers past.This memoir is so "Maybe at our most maternal, we aren't mothers at all. We're daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we'd had and then finding ourselves."Maya Shanbhag Lang always idolized her mother, a brilliant physician who immigrated from India to the U.S. But then a change in her mother’s temperament led to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. As she took on her mother and young daughter’s care, Lang learned that despite their closeness, there was much to learn about her mother’s past.This memoir is so emotionally powerful, and written so well. Lang's story is heartbreaking and hope-making at once, and her reflections on motherhood and daughterhood will take your breath away. Having a parent with dementia is such a painful topic that I struggled to pick this one up, but once I did, I couldn't put it down.Thanks to NetGalley and Dial Press for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Abigail
    January 1, 1970
    I received a complimentary copy of this e-book ARC from the author, publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.What We Carry offers so much insight into an immigrant experience, Maya Shanbhag Langs experience growing up as a second generation Indian American, childhood trauma, postpartum depression, Alzheimers, and much much more. While packed with an abundant of lifes joys and sorrows, What We Carry is ultimately about womanhood. It is about how love is always interdependent and I received a complimentary copy of this e-book ARC from the author, publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.What We Carry offers so much – insight into an immigrant experience, Maya Shanbhag Lang’s experience growing up as a second generation Indian American, childhood trauma, postpartum depression, Alzheimer’s, and much much more. While packed with an abundant of life’s joys and sorrows, What We Carry is ultimately about womanhood. It is about how love is always interdependent and liberating. Maya masterfully weaves a family legend throughout the memoir, where a woman is found in an impossible situation—she is in a river, carrying her child overhead, and she must decide if she saves herself or her child. Who will she choose? As Maya depicts her various stages of being a daughter, a mother, a writer, and a person who grows into her strength, readers are drawn into the complexity of the woman in the river’s choice. Ultimately, we are all invited to be this woman in the river. We are invited into a liberating strength to choose ourselves, not to the exclusion of our children or others whom we love, but as the only way of learning how to swim—both mother and child. What We Carry is a tribute to motherhood, the experience of being a daughter, and being a woman who finds herself strong and resilient in a world that conditions her to sacrifice herself rather than be fully alive.
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  • Danielle
    January 1, 1970
    There are so many things I want to say about this stunning memoir by Maya Shanbhag Lang that I don't know where to start. This quote from a story the author's mother tells her seems like a good place - "Whatever a woman decides, it's not easy.""What We Carry" is the story of Lang's relationship with her mother, a brilliant but complicated psychiatrist who emigrated to the U.S. and is eventually diagnosed with dementia. As her mother ages and the disease progresses, the author learns that not There are so many things I want to say about this stunning memoir by Maya Shanbhag Lang that I don't know where to start. This quote from a story the author's mother tells her seems like a good place - "Whatever a woman decides, it's not easy.""What We Carry" is the story of Lang's relationship with her mother, a brilliant but complicated psychiatrist who emigrated to the U.S. and is eventually diagnosed with dementia. As her mother ages and the disease progresses, the author learns that not everything she believed about her mother and their past is true, forcing her to reexamine her childhood and her mom for what and who they really are, and how that made her who she is today. It also forces her to reassess who she wants to be. Lang's journey as a woman, as a wife, as a mother and most of all as a daughter, is beautiful, heartbreaking, and revelatory. Her writing is lyrical and honest and although it's not a light read, the book is fast-paced and you won't want to put it down. I find myself looking at my relationship with my mother, and hers with my grandmother who also suffered from dementia, differently after reading "What We Carry," and I've also been reflecting on how I want my own daughters to look at their relationships with me. At one point, Lang writes "Maybe at our most maternal, we aren't mothers at all. We're daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we'd had and then finding ourselves." That is the gift of this book - helping us reflect on our relationships with the women who made us who we are as we shape the women our daughters will become.Thank you to NetGalley, Random House and the author for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you, Dial Press/Penguin Random House.What We Carry is an intimate and beautifully written memoir exploring Maya Shanbhag Lang's complicated relationship with her motherwho was diagnosed with Alzheimer'sand how that in turn informed her relationship with her own daughter, Zoe. This deeply personal look at motherhood, mental health, and immigration was affecting and often times frustrating to read (but purposely so), much of it due to Lang's father, who I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you, Dial Press/Penguin Random House.What We Carry is an intimate and beautifully written memoir exploring Maya Shanbhag Lang's complicated relationship with her mother—who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's—and how that in turn informed her relationship with her own daughter, Zoe. This deeply personal look at motherhood, mental health, and immigration was affecting and often times frustrating to read (but purposely so), much of it due to Lang's father, who was a selfish and detestable man.As Lang's mother unraveled and her condition became worse, Lang began to peel back the lies and illusions her mother had built up over the years. Parents keep so much from their children because they feel like they should protect them… or protect themselves. It's something I've thought about and attempted to discuss with my parents, sometimes with little success. There's so much I don't know about them, both past and present, and I suspect I never will. I also really related to the burden of guilt that we inherit as the children of immigrants. It's permanently intertwined with love, expectation, and acceptance.As an aside, I'm finding that I really enjoy books comprised of tiny little two or three-page chapters (like My Sister, the Serial Killer). It's so easy to pick up and put down this book without completely losing my place.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    A good novel. Well written
  • Poonam
    January 1, 1970
    First, thank you to Dial Press for a free hard copy.This memoir is EVERYTHING.I read an advanced e-copy in mid March, around the time the shelter in place orders started. So emotions were already high, and this book was like a salve to my soul.Mayas parents immigrated to the US from India, and Maya spent the majority of her life idolizing her mom. The strength to start over in a new country, build a successful career, and maintain a home for her husband and children. This story has all the First, thank you to Dial Press for a free hard copy.This memoir is EVERYTHING.I read an advanced e-copy in mid March, around the time the shelter in place orders started. So emotions were already high, and this book was like a salve to my soul.Maya’s parents immigrated to the US from India, and Maya spent the majority of her life idolizing her mom. The strength to start over in a new country, build a successful career, and maintain a home for her husband and children. This story has all the elements of the making it in America immigrant dream, and Maya revered her mom for all she accomplished.But the truth is never quite so dreamy. Maya’s journey to understand who her mom truly is begins when she discovers her mom has Alzheimer’s. She starts examining the myths and stories she told herself and what happens when confronted with the reality of who her mom actually is - human, flawed, and doing her best.In addition to Maya’s story about her and her mother, I was floored by the truths Maya illuminated in her upbringing. Moments that I thought were mine alone. My eyes widened more than once, when Maya shared an insecurity or struggle she had. Something I didn’t know others experienced. And then wondered if these insecurities I struggled with, and could not name, were more common than I gave credit for.Reading this book felt like watching an episode of THIS IS US or reading MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE. It’s heartfelt and relatable and it hits at that part of you that wants to feel connected.WHAT WE CARRY is a story about mothers and daughters. The way relationships evolve. The ebb and flow of family dynamics. I’m grateful to Maya for sharing her story, and 100% recommend this book.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    As Maya begins to care for her aging mother with Alzeimer's, she starts to realize the story of her mother and their relationship was more complicated than she had initially judged. Her journey of discovery is messy and I would find myself judging the situation, only to be given more understanding and humility a few chapters later. Relationships are difficult, change, need readjustments, and require love, strength, and acceptance. I enjoyed hearing her honest and beautifully written story, and I As Maya begins to care for her aging mother with Alzeimer's, she starts to realize the story of her mother and their relationship was more complicated than she had initially judged. Her journey of discovery is messy and I would find myself judging the situation, only to be given more understanding and humility a few chapters later. Relationships are difficult, change, need readjustments, and require love, strength, and acceptance. I enjoyed hearing her honest and beautifully written story, and I hope I have gained some compassion from it.-"We must not judge....we can not know the weight of other woman's burden, whatever a woman decides, it is not easy." -"I don't want Zoe going through life thinking that I gave myself up for her. I don't want guilt to be her inheritance. My assumptions of motherhood have been all wrong. I feared I was supposed to have all the answers, I didn't know my daughter would help me find them. I worried she would be an obstacle to my dreams, not the reason I went after them. Zoe makes me want to be the best version of myself. That isn't sacrifice. It's inspiration."-"Rather than telling new moms to indulge, to do the frivolous activities that women in movies do, we should say this: find yourself, gather yourself up before it is too late. You are at risk of getting buried. Maybe you're already feeling buried. Do something that will solidify your sense of self, buttress your retaining walls. Don't worry if it feels scary. It's probably a good thing if it does."-"They weren't necessarily true to events, but they were true to her. As a writer, I should've known better. I of all people should have understood that a story needn't be accurate in order to be true."-"All that time as a new mother when I felt overburdened, functioned like my time in the gym. It strengthened me. I know now how much I can carry."-"She didn't always know how to care for me the way I wanted, she cared for me the way she knew how."-"I wish I could have my old mom back for a day. I want my former mom to help me with my current one."-"These are the minutia I once would've shared with my mom, how trivial these events, how utterly inconsequential. But in receiving them she performed a role. To listen is not inconsequential at all...I miss having someone in my life who cared about the details, who gave me the space to be an unhurried version of myself. I don't think there is a replacement for this. No-one else can be a mom...It is true that I have a hard time recalling her, how she used to be. Yet I feel her acutely in the space created by her absence, its particular hollow. In grieving her, I remember. "-"The episode with the tea helps me grasp my situation. I can't fathom my mother's disease, can't wrap my mind around what it and our living arrangement means, but a small anecdote involving tea is manageable, it gives me a story, a way to explain to others and to myself, the ineffable. It gives me a few lines when the rest of the tale is out of reach. Alzheimer's is devastating because it annihilates one's story. It vacuums it up. Even the name feels greedy to me. What gets me is the apostrophe, that possessive little hook. It drags your loved one away from you. My mom no longer belongs to me, she belongs to her illness. My time with her is a way of countering that apostrophe. The episode with the tea, in giving me a story, allows me to stake a claim on her. The magnitude of the ocean can be overwhelming, but a sandcastle, however fleetingly defies that power. It's beauty is more poignant for its brevity. I can't comprehend what is coming for my mom, the title wave of loss. But in the meantime we have this, tea together in the kitchen. Even if she doesn't remember it, I will. It is enough to get me through the next day."
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  • Amanda Cox
    January 1, 1970
    This book really hit home with me. It's the story of a daughter, and her changing relationship with her mother, her daughter, and herself. It starts off with an Indian folk story and ideas of her mother being perfect. As the story unravels, you realize that parents aren't perfect, and they're just flawed people too. At points it almost seems like she hates her mother, but then it comes back to a more even ground, with joys and challenges interwoven into a complex relationship.I found it very This book really hit home with me. It's the story of a daughter, and her changing relationship with her mother, her daughter, and herself. It starts off with an Indian folk story and ideas of her mother being perfect. As the story unravels, you realize that parents aren't perfect, and they're just flawed people too. At points it almost seems like she hates her mother, but then it comes back to a more even ground, with joys and challenges interwoven into a complex relationship.I found it very easy to connect with the emotions of the narrator. I felt joy, jealousy, sorrow, anger, and resignation on her behalf. It all felt very raw and real, and not just written in a way that would elicit sympathy. I think her journey mirrors what a lot of people go through.I especially love how her realizations reflect back on her own self-worth and self-care, and how she chooses to be more honest with her own daughter as a result. With the hopes that her own daughter will be her own person who can make her own choices. Highly recommend this book, especially to women who feel the burden of being a caregiver, or who are struggling in their relationship as mother or daughter.
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  • Kaydee56
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written, wonderfully narrated. My initial irritation by the authors (perceived) whining gave way when she began disclosing incidents from her childhood. Her father....ugh! Her mother...a puzzle. Her mother was a very successful psychiatrist, yet failed to protect her daughter from abuse. I realize that this is a memoir about the relationship between the author and her mother, but I would have liked more anecdotes from her past. Beautifully written, wonderfully narrated. My initial irritation by the author’s (perceived) whining gave way when she began disclosing incidents from her childhood. Her father....ugh! Her mother...a puzzle. Her mother was a very successful psychiatrist, yet failed to protect her daughter from abuse. I realize that this is a memoir about the relationship between the author and her mother, but I would have liked more anecdotes from her past.
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  • Shawna
    January 1, 1970
    Great memoir about mother daughter relationships.
  • Dale
    January 1, 1970
    05.10.2020: per NYTimes the Shortlist: Mothers & Daughters recommendation; this is non-fiction; at the Madison Co. Public Library, Richmond...;
  • Joseph Reilly
    January 1, 1970
    Deeply personal and eye opening memoir.
  • Sujin Stone
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Stars.
  • K sus udu
    January 1, 1970
    La 😍😍😍😍😍😍 marcará tu libro s es mi favorito
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