TMW Book Reviews

Generations of Motherhood: A Changing Story


Lilly A. Gwilliam

We are brought up to love our mothers. After all, society has heralded them as the pinnacle of love, care, and stability. While that is undoubtedly true, mothers are also human, which means that this perfect image of them rarely exists.

“Generations of Motherhood: A Changing Story” encompasses this truth all too well. The author, Lilly A. Gwilliam, shares her life through this brief yet profound memoir. Born in Long Island, New York, she was named after her mother, and the two had a less-than-ideal relationship.

As Lilly recounts her relationship with her mother from birth to adulthood, she also notices a recurring theme: her maternal grandmother also shared this distant yet unsupportive relationship with her own daughter.

Determined never to become like that, Lilly grew with the need to prove herself. As a young girl, she was athletic and determined, with dreams that were far more ambitious than women in that era had at the time. Considering it was the 1950s, it wasn’t surprising that Lilly’s mother was not supportive of her daughter’s ambitions to become a nurse.

Nevertheless, the author persisted. As we read through the memoir, we’ll find that the road to Lilly becoming a nurse is a challenge with twists and turns. With conflicts like fitting into society’s expectations, her feelings of not being good enough, and unconsciously seeking her parents’ approval—the author does a great job of dissecting her emotional conflicts with care and precision. She also does an excellent job of showing compassion to her mother and grandmother, knowing that the two had their issues to work on while also taking accountability for her own shortcomings.

As I read through the memoir, I cannot help but admire the author’s tenacity in taking charge of her life. Despite the many setbacks that seemed to push her back from achieving her dreams, it was inspiring to read about how she stayed strong and worked to have a life she could be proud of.

As I read through her failures, her successes, and her coming to terms with her childhood pain, I can’t help but root for her until the very end. Considering that she’ll be writing a follow-up memoir on the later part of her life, I can’t wait to read the next part of her memoir.

Suppose you’re a person who is struggling with conflicted feelings towards your mother or happen to know someone who shares these feelings. In that case, give this brief yet illuminating memoir a read. You’ll find that you are not alone.

– The Moving Words Review

Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 3, 2024