The Hand That First Held Mine
By Maggie O’Farrell
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. 341 pgs. Fiction.
After being expelled from university, Lexie is determined to escape her parent’s quiet home and build a life for herself in New York City. Elina, 50 years into the future, has just survived the traumatic birth of her son and is struggling to recover both physically and emotionally. These two women’s stories seem to have nothing in common, but as the novel unfolds, their lives connect is surprising ways as they each explore what it means to be a mother.
This book took me by complete surprise with its touching portrayal of the connection between a mother and her child. My favorite section includes one character’s thoughts she titles ‘The Women We Become After Children’ and includes these musings, “Our hearts begin to live outside our bodies. They breathe, they eat they crawl and –look!—they walk, they begin to speak to us….We get used to living with a love that suffuses us, suffocates us, binds us, controls us. We live.” This is an unexpectedly tender tribute to family and the love that bind us together.