All My Mother's Lovers, Ilana Masad's debut novel, is an empathetic portrait of a difficult mother-daughter relationship intercut with grief, road trips and queer romance. The novel begins with 27-year-old Maggie Krause returning home after her mother's sudden death. Maggie's grief is complicated by long-held resentments: her mother's frequent absences and her seeming refusal to accept Maggie's queerness fractured their relationship. Maggie finds an excuse to escape the unbearable grief--and long, painful shiva--filling her childhood home when she discovers a series of letters her mother has left behind, addressed to men Maggie has never heard of. In one of a series of arguably selfish choices--Maggie is young, figuring herself out, and no saint--she decides to leave her grieving father and brother and deliver the letters in person, initiating a series of road trips to find out who these men are and what they meant to her mother.
All My Mother's Lovers is about rediscovering Maggie's mother, a contradictory, surprising woman who Maggie, as children often do, has inadvertently rendered into a two-dimensional figure. In a way, it resembles a coming-of-age novel, inasmuch as learning to forgive and accept your parents--and the insecurities they've handed down--is a critical part of growing up. Maggie is a strong-willed young woman who throws herself into risky situations and says what's on her mind. Whether she wants to admit it or not, a lot of that comes from her mother. All My Mother's Lovers is a raw, emotional book about acceptance and the kind of complicated, messy love that sometimes takes years to comprehend. --Hank Stephenson, manuscript reader, the Sun magazine