Edelman, Hope

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Edelman, Hope


Married Uzi Eliahou; children: Maya, Eden. Education: Northwestern University, B.S.; University of Iowa, M.A. Hobbies and other interests: Playing guitar.


Home—Topanga, CA. E-mail—[email protected].


Whittle Communications, Knoxville, TN, editor, three years, c. 1980s; Antioch University—Los Angeles, CA, writing instructor, 2001-06. Visiting lecturer, University of Iowa, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Iowa Summer Writing Festival, UCLA Extension; cofounder, West Coast Writers Workshops. Board member, Motherless Daughters of Orange County and PEN West; advisory board member, Mommy's Light Lives On.


PEN West, Authors Guild.


Pushcart Prize, for creative nonfiction; New York Times notable book award.


Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1994, 2nd edition, Da Capo Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

(Editor and author of introduction) Letters from Motherless Daughters: Words of Courage, Grief, and Healing, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1995.

Mother of My Mother: The Intricate Bond between Generations, Dial Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Motherless Mothers: How Mother Loss Shapes the Parents We Become, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to anthologies, including The Bitch in the House, Toddler, and Blindsided by a Diaper. Contributor to periodicals, including Glamour, Seventeen, Child, Self, Real Simple, Iowa Review, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. Motherless Daughters has been translated into seven languages.


Hope Edelman originally intended to be a journalist. While studying at Northwestern University, however, she came to the conclusion that becoming a reporter was not for her. She considered going into magazine writing; then, while she was studying at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, one of her teachers suggested she write about her mother's death from breast cancer when Edelman was seventeen. Edelman took this advice, and the result was Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss. In this work, the author not only talks about her own emotions and thoughts but she also interviews some two hundred and fifty other women who have experienced similar losses in their lives. Edelman notes that how a mother's death affects a daughter depends on several factors, including how old the child was at the time and the circumstances of the death. For example, a daughter whose mother died when she was younger than twelve years old will likely have a more idealized picture of the parent; losing a mother when one is a teenager or older will leave a much more realistic memory of the mother, including both her flaws and more positive attributes. Daughters who lose their mother suddenly, especially to suicide or in an accident will be more traumatized.

Edelman emphasizes that the support of family and others in a child's life is extremely important after a mother's death. "A child should have a stable caregiver who can provide a supportive environment that makes children feel comfortable about expressing their feelings," she explained in a People article. "If the family can't provide that, support groups are essential. If everyone around you tells you not to talk about something that has affected you profoundly, you develop a sense of shame. Families should be encouraged to talk about Mom that first Christmas, birthday or holiday without her and to keep her as a part of them. They should let the children know she was important to them and can remain so. A daughter's longing for her mother never disappears, but you don't have to shut the door on the past." Reviewer's Bookwatch contributor Mary Cowper called Motherless Daughters "an informative and expertly contributive documentation of the psychological and spiritual effects" on a child after a mother has died.

Building on the theme of her first book, Edelman wrote Mother of My Mother: The Intricate Bond between Generations and Motherless Mothers: How Mother Loss Shapes the Parents We Become. The first book is about grandmothers and their granddaughters. In a style that "is much like reading a diary," as Sheila Devaney commented in the Library Journal, the author talks about the influence both her mother and her mother's mother had on her. This makes for "insightful reading," according to Devaney. The author also interviewed seventy other women and surveyed nearly two hundred others about their relationships with their grandmothers. "Edelman is at her best illuminating the complexity of girls' and women's feelings toward their mothers and grandmothers," observed a Publishers Weekly writer, who felt that the nature of the research resulted in a "slightly choppy" narrative that is nevertheless a "worthwhile read."

Motherless Mothers draws on Edelman's own emotions after giving birth to her second child. She struggled with balancing a newborn infant along with raising a toddler and taking care of a home. While trying to manage all this work, she longed for her mother's help. Wondering how other women in her situation felt, she surveyed about one thousand people for their insights. "I found that the motherless mothers had a lot of the same thoughts and concerns and fears as other mothers, but they were ‘amped up’ a little bit," she explained to an interviewer on the Literary Mama Web site. Observing that the work is not so much about grief and mourning as it is "a supportive guide for mothers who may feel overwhelmed and alone," a Publishers Weekly critic asserted that Edelman "presents emotionally charged concepts in clear, memorable terms."



Library Journal, May 1, 1999, Sheila Devaney, review of Mother of My Mother: The Intricate Bond between Generations, p. 97; February 1, 2006, Lynne Maxwell, review of Motherless Mothers: How Mother Loss Shapes the Parents We Become, p. 95.

People, August 8, 1994, "The Loss That Lingers," interview with Hope Edelman, p. 61; April 17, 2006, "When Mom Is Gone," p. 138.

Publishers Weekly, April 11, 1994, review of Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss, p. 50; March 8, 1999, review of Mother of My Mother, p. 55; January 23, 2006, review of Motherless Mothers, p. 194.

Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2006, review of Motherless Mothers.

Reviewer's Bookwatch, May 1, 2006, Mary Cowper, review of Motherless Daughters.


Antioch University—Los Angeles Web site,http://www.antiochla.edu/ (May 17, 2007), faculty profile of Hope Edelman.

Hope Edelman Home Page,http://www.hopeedelman.com (May 17, 2007).

Literary Mama,http://www.literarymama.com/ (May 17, 2007), "An Interview with Hope Edelman."