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Publisher's Summary

“A gorgeous memoir about mothers, daughters, and the tenacity of the love that grows between what is said and what is left unspoken.” (Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk)

If our family stories shape us, what happens when we learn those stories were never true? Who do we become when we shed our illusions about the past?

Maya Shanbhag Lang grew up idolizing her brilliant mother, an accomplished physician who immigrated to the United States from India and completed her residency all while raising her children and keeping a traditional Indian home. Maya’s mother had always been a source of support - until Maya became a mother herself. Then the parent who had once been so capable and attentive became suddenly and inexplicably unavailable. Struggling to understand this abrupt change while raising her own young child, Maya searches for answers and soon learns that her mother is living with Alzheimer’s. 

Unable to remember or keep track of the stories she once told her daughter - stories about her life in India, why she immigrated, and her experience of motherhood - Maya’s mother divulges secrets about her past that force Maya to reexamine their relationship. It becomes clear that Maya never really knew her mother, despite their close bond. 

Absorbing, moving, and raw, What We Carry is a memoir about mothers and daughters, lies and truths, receiving and giving care, and how we cannot grow up until we fully understand the people who raised us. It is a beautiful examination of the weight we shoulder as women and an exploration of how to finally set our burdens down.

Praise for What We Carry

"Part self-discovery, part family history.... [Lang's] analysis of the shifting roles of mothers and daughters, particularly through the lens of immigration, help[s] to challenge her family's mythology.... Readers interested in examining their own family stories...will connect deeply with Lang's beautiful memoir." (Library Journal, starred review)

"A stirring memoir exploring the fraught relationships between mothers and daughters...astutely written and intense.... [What We Carry] will strike a chord with readers." (Publishers Weekly)

"Lang is an immediately affable and honest narrator who offers an intriguing blend of revelatory personal history and touching insight." (BookPage)

©2020 Maya Shanbhag Lang (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

What We Carry is an exquisite exploration of the boundlessness and limitations of love that makes us examine the unknowability of who we are and the strength of our bonds with those who shape us. This story is so elegantly told, with such rawness and compassion, that I fell madly in love with Maya Shanbhag Lang and her complicated, unforgettable mother and could not put this book down.” (Lori Gottlieb, New York Times best-selling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone)

“A dazzling, courageous memoir about the weight we carry as women, daughters, and mothers - and what happens when we let go. Lang takes us deep into the heart of her relationship with her mother, a brilliant psychiatrist and Indian immigrant with long-buried secrets. After a health crisis brings mother and daughter under the same roof for the first time since childhood, Lang grapples with new information about the parent she’d idolized, and realizes it's time to tell the story of her own life. What We Carry is a love letter to everyone who has swum through turbulent water before reaching the shores of selfhood.” (Chloe Benjamin, New York Times best-selling author of The Immortalists

“A profoundly moving memoir about secrets, trauma, and what happens when, for reasons beyond anyone’s control, we can no longer get what we need from those we love, or give them the things they most want from us. In exquisite prose, Maya Shanbhag Lang writes about her extraordinary mother and the cruel circumstances that complicate their relationship. At its heart, this is a book about one of the greatest gifts any parent can give a child: the power to save yourself.” (Will Schwalbe, New York Times best-selling author of The End of Your Life Book Club and Books for Living)

What listeners say about What We Carry

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authentic

A story about mother daughter relationships beautifully told with love compassion and authenticity. thankyou

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  • Sireesha
  • 18-02-2021

Honest and deep

I loved the book. Author's honest and deep insights are extraordinary. Author describes the meaning beyond the said words in a beuatiful way. Author narrating the story, is a big plus for me.

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  • PDX Mommy
  • 16-01-2021

Amazingly well-told story

I loved that the author narrates this story. The inflections in her voice truly bring every emotion she is sharing to life for the listener. I loved every minute. A wonderful book for anyone who is caring for their elderly parents.

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  • Aubrey Brennan
  • 11-08-2020

perception is reality

we will never fully no what our parents went through while raising us. Lots of relatable moments for this mother of two. Relish the present. 💜

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  • Shexy
  • 08-08-2020

Perfect for a daughter losing her mother to Alzheimer’s

Sherry Comerchero
This book was very helpful to me as I am witnessing my mother sink further into Alzheimers and have had similar experiences and emotions as the author. I also gained insight into the relationships of mothers and daughters as I read this very interesting and well written book. I believe I read it in about three days as I couldn’t stop listening. I highly recommend it to anybody who has a daughter and/or a mother with Alzheimer’s - a terrible disease you can’t be prepared for in any way. Be prepared to cry and have this book stir your emotions.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-07-2020

Amazing!

What a great book. I couldn’t stop listening. I laughed and cried, but truly love the connection of mother and daughter. Bravo!!

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  • Pam B.
  • 07-05-2020

Beautiful!

This book gives deep insight into mother daughter relationships.
My mom had Alzheimer’s too and so much of that experience is hindsight.
I love the peeling back of multiple generations of mothers and all the messy and beautiful things we pass on both knowingly and unknowingly!
I have 4 daughters and want each of them to read this very well written book!!!

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