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All My Mother's Lovers: Book summary and reviews of All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad

All My Mother's Lovers

by Ilana Masad

All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad X
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
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Book Summary

Intimacy has always eluded twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause--despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss--until, that is, Lucia came into her life.

But when Maggie's mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and, along with Iris's will, five sealed envelopes, each addressed to a mysterious man she's never heard of.

In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of her discomfort with her daughter's sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip, determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. Maggie quickly discovers Iris's second, hidden life, which shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents' perfect relationship. What is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall?

Told over the course of a funeral and shiva, and written with enormous wit and warmth, All My Mother's Lovers is the exciting debut novel from fiction writer and book critic Ilana Masad. A unique meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties and grief, and a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity, All My Mother's Lovers challenges us to question the nature of fulfilling relationships.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] smart, heartfelt debut...This remarkable portrait of a daughter's opaque relationship with her mother reflects the strangeness and beauty of coming to see one's parent fully as a human being." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Where the book succeeds is in depicting queer characters as multifaceted human beings who are not defined solely by their sexuality or gender...And it's not often that fiction writers—or anyone, for that matter—depict women of middle age and beyond as beings who desire and wish to be desired. An intriguing but uneven debut." - Kirkus Reviews

"A story of good but difficult characters and the openhearted people who love them, All My Mother's Lovers is a compassionate and insightful work." - BookPage

"Ilana Masad's debut novel held my attention as early as its title, All My Mother's Lovers, which renders a wit and promise of complication that makes for exciting reading...The narrative unfolds over a funeral and shiva and will tackle identity from many angles: the familial, the sexual, the repressed, the hopeful." - Lit Hub, "Most Anticipated Books of 2020"

"A large hearted marvel." - O, The Oprah Magazine, "31 LGBTQ Books That'll Change the Literary Landscape in 2020"

"A debut that explores sexuality, family trauma, and grief — after our main character's mother dies in a car crash and leaves mysterious letters to five different men — but it's all packed in a smart, funny package." - Entertainment Weekly

"This probing, beautiful debut novel by Ilana Masad is an intimate meditation on grief, identity, love, and inheritance...[A] daughter's journey to realizing her mother was also a woman, and a tender tribute to the power of forgiveness, understanding, and hope." - Refinery 29

"Ilana Masad's All My Mother's Lovers is a stunning excavation of the profound destabilization of grief, the secrets that twist like vines around the root system of a family, and the terror and grace of learning to be vulnerable before others. Maggie and Iris, the daughter and mother that sit at this novel's heart, are both indelible, with a bond that not even death can demolish. A giant-hearted and sharply funny debut." - Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel

"This ambitious, deft, compassionate debut novel finds eternal truths in a very contemporary story: that even those we care for most remain mysteries to us, that our judgments of others' lives are always inadequate, that love demands heroism. Ilana Masad is an exciting talent." - Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You and Cleanness

"Masad's impressive novel delves into varieties of that strange magic, love, and of its expansive, life-shaping possibilities. All My Mother's Lovers is a debut of rare and vital generosity." - R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

This information about All My Mother's Lovers was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Ilana Masad

Ilana Masad is a queer Israeli American fiction writer, essayist, and book critic whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Paris Review, NPR, BuzzFeed, Catapult, StoryQuarterly,, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, as well as several others. She is the founder and host of The Other Stories podcast and a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she also serves as the assistant nonfiction editor for Prairie Schooner. All My Mother's Lovers is her debut novel.

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