My Mother's Island

Trade Cloth – $24.95

ISBN 978-1-880684-82-5
Publication Date
April 2002
Page Count
238 pages
Trim Size
5.7 x 8.5

My Mother's Island

Marnie Mueller

In Marnie Mueller's My Mother's Island, Sarah Ellis must tend to her dying mother, Reba. This moving story of subterranean conflict between a mother and her only child explores the tension between duty and commitment—how to honor one's parents even when one feels damaged by them. With sorrow, rage, empathy, and touches of humor, the story reaches its irrevocable conclusion in a death scene where Sarah is shocked to find a simple truth that has always evaded her.

This novel is played out against the lush ambiance of the Caribbean and the embracing involvement of the people of the working class Puerto Rican community where Sarah's parents settled twenty years earlier. Sarah, who has always taken care of her mother's needs, has steeled herself to single-handedly provide support to her dying mother, but gradually allows other to help her—Lydia Rentas, the girlfriend of a local heroin user and the foster mother of a child whose own mother has AIDS; Estela, a neighbor across the street, whose carport is overflowing with orchids; Inez, whose four-year-old daughter has become the granddaughter Sarah has never provided her mother; Pearl, a former sports writer who is Reba's bridge partner; and Dr. Gold, a New Yorker who thirty years earlier married a Puerto Rican and has taken on Latino attitudes toward the process of dying. With their support, Sarah comes to terms with her mother and with her own past.

About the Author

Marnie Mueller is an American novelist. She was born in the Tule Lake Japanese American Segregation Camp during WWII, the child of Caucasian parents protesting the treatment of those incarcerated there. Mueller's work has received numerous awards and citations, including an AMERICAN BOOK AWARD and a Barnes and Noble "Discover Great New Writers" selection. She currently lives in New York City. 


"My Mother's Island is a daughter's death watch: loving, angry, remorseful, and profoundly revealing of our lives as adult children. Marnie Mueller's honest and unsentimental novel helped me fathom the meaning of my own own mother's recent death and should similarly serve other readers in negotiating the strong currents and unpredictable eddies of this milestone of primary loss."

—Wally Lamb, author of She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True

"My Mother's Island is a lovely but painful account of a difficult journey two women must take together to bring their problematic relationship to a close. On a deeper level, Mueller has crafted an exceptional book about the spirituality of death and dying that gets inside the reality of losing a parent with an intimacy and depth that no self-help treatise can hope to match."

Publishers Weekly

"Mueller shows us much about generosity, sacrifice, family bonds, forgiveness, and love. Readers in the sandwich generation (e.g., those responsible for the care of aging parents as well as young children) will find this novel especially meaningful."

—Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Counterpoise