By Mary Elizabeth Moloney
Heart Whisperings, $14.95, 283 pages

“splash towards her, reach out for her, but the waters hurl us further apart, then engulf her. I know i cannot rescue her without losing my life.”

More years of dream analysis would pass, as well as Mother’s debilitating stroke and death, before I could allow the “pythons” in that dream to bite me with their gifts. Mary Elizabeth Moloney spills out an intriguing and absorbing tale of how she came to be, a woman unto her own. She tells of a life fettered by the most significant woman in her life, her mother. A mother who she feels has taken control of her and “dressed” her in her own image. The term “dressed” is both figurative and literal, and her story clearly supports this theme. Throughout, she outlines her journey with chapters titled by apparel and the date which is pertinent to the time, from her First Holy Communion dress in 1943 to a red strapless tea gown in 1951 to the black knitted scarf which accompanied her time  as a Sister in a noviceship and later an Aspirant. Each outfit has been chosen by her mother, as Elizabeth acquiesces to her, until there is a shift and Elizabeth begins to create an identity for herself, a life free from her mother’s ruling and full of her own dreams and limitless opportunities. Readers begin to witness a growth that is both rooted for and inspiring to the rest. As Elizabeth begins to “dress” herself, she comes alive and, with that, faces many struggles and challenges that accompany great transformation.

Through the excavation of her dreams and analytical dream-work with a Jungian philosopher, Elizabeth begins her real work of uncovering who she is without her mother’s supervision or approval.

Mary Elizabeth’s story is an intriguing read, there are many relatable themes and experiences that many women can certainly empathize with. There are some minor pronoun confusions, as far as the relationships of Mother (her true mother) and Mother Superior, when they are both responded to as the same. It works itself out but, at first was a little puzzling. This is a read worth the investment and just may encourage another to break from their tight-fitting duds and choose something more suited for themselves in the process.

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