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Her Mother's Daughter    by Linda Carroll order for
Her Mother's Daughter
by Linda Carroll
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Upon the birth of her first grandchild, Linda Carroll followed through and realized her long-time desire to locate her biological parents. Carroll learned that her mother is author Paula Fox, who gave birth to Linda at age eighteen. Linda was adopted at ten months of age by a middle-class couple, who later moved into the wealthy neighborhood of Pacific Heights. Adoptive parents Louella and Jack Risi had difficulty dealing with Linda's imagination and antics. She tells us that her mother consistently introduced her as 'my adopted daughter', and her father attempted molestation on several occasions. Carroll reveals life with adoptive parents as a trying one, yet with moments of caring.

Painstakingly, Carroll begins her memoirs in Her Mother's Daughter with a phone call from her daughter Courtney Love, announcing her marriage and pregnancy. The author relates how she imagined what her biological mother was like, as women walked by her on the street and in malls. Questioning Louella and Jack about her biological parents, she never received the answers she sought, nor did they offer much in the way of information about their own backgrounds. Linda writes, 'I knew I had to find my own life. But how? In school, I had always been so bold. It helped to have a system of rules to question and an audience of friends to suggest and admire my daring actions. When I wasn't rebelling against something, I found it difficult to chart my own course.'

Placed in private and Catholic boarding school (and eventually entering public schools), Linda made friends with sassy and mischievous girls like herself. She found solace in a few firm friendships that carried into later life. Her first high school crush proved a painful experience, which haunted her for many years. Linda later miscarried an ectopic pregnancy, and was told that she might never have children. Pregnant again at eighteen, Linda kept the baby, and married Hank, who was always in debt. Divorcing from an unhappy marriage, Linda raised daughter Courtney Michelle, married twice more by age thirty, and now has five grown children. She tells us that Courtney was a bright but moody child. Counseling was sought but no definitive answer was ever given for Courtney's mental and emotional swings.

Linda Carroll shares her life informally, and candidly - her adoptive parents, experiences with drugs, happiness mixed with trials with her first daughter, her marriages, and raising children. I recommend Her Mother's Daughter to those interested in biographies, the search for biological parents, the development of Carroll's career as a therapist and writer, and in singer/songwriter Courtney Love.

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