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Review: Mean Mothers by Pegg Streep

A point to make at the beginning of this review: my ending comments are mostly about my own personal experience with this book. Her quality of work, in all her books is tremendous. Unfortunately the subtitle of this book is kind of misleading. Though, to be fair - she has other books on actually ‘detoxing from being unmothered.’ I found this book to focus on insight, research, story sharing and validation. Some of the women in this book have ‘overcome’ their past in varying ways and degrees. But I was hard pressed to find direction on how to apply much of it to my own life, as the reader.

This, again, is a book I came across after finishing the first draft of my own book. Pegg Streep is a juggernaut in this genre. Pegg Streep, from what I’ve uncovered so far, is the MOST experienced and well written in this field. Her University Degrees in English are put to good use and are evident.


Her explanations are very thorough. She successfully communicates the complex dynamics between mothers and daughters. Pegg Streep’s books are backed up undeniably, with both research and having paid her unfortunate dues in this subject matter. This book specifically, presents a skilled depth of knowledge, is very articulate and communicates the topic impressively. But it is fucking dense. I honestly felt like I was dragging my legs through a swamp. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with this book. There are just large, relatable portions that I found difficult to get through, due to actually being the target market for this literature.


Even after all of the work and progress I had experienced, this book had continuous content that had me fighting with triggers. I committed to skimming or speed reading through most of it; since I really didn’t feel I required further examples on the past damage I’ve been working so hard to shake.

This is a 6 chapter book. I approached Chapter 5 with hope for its title, Stilling the Voice of the Mother Within: The Battle for Self Worth. Alas, to my dismay, more research, insight, explanations, other womens’ accounts and Streep’s personal stories. The same carries through Chapter 6.


To this books credit, there are many stories shared that offer beautiful, clever and at times, extraordinary pieces of wisdom. What Streep derives from the stories she has collected and her commentary on them is often a mix of treasure and poignant truth. Her own stories and their lessons are difficult, but valuable to share. Most, if not all, of the interviews and suggestions from therapists on the topic of recovery are gentle descriptions of the start line, and do not dive into how to progressively apply them.

The unfortunate and difficult experience I had with this book was that the tools, and coping mechanism many of these women shared were sometimes hidden in the text. They were hard to locate and at times, the search for them dragged out and hooked into my own pain, dragging it into the present. Each chapter and subtitle section was worded with a bit of a promise that a recovery method might be clearly offered. But the book stays true to the end. Insight on the past and unique stories, with each woman’s continuing struggle to make peace. Some better than others.

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