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Mothers Before: the stories showing mothers in a new light

Photo credits from left: Jia Tolentino, Edan Lepucki and Vallerie Mwazo

Mothers Before: the stories showing mothers in a new light

Who was your mother before she became a mum? This is the concept author Edan Lepucki explores in her Instagram project and new novel, Mother's Before.

Mothers Before: the stories showing mothers in a new light

The book, says Lepucki, was inspired by her Instagram account by the same name, which was in turn inspired by her second novel Woman No.17. 

“[The novel] included an artist character who collects photos of mothers before they became mothers,” says Lepucki. “The novel is all about the mother-daughter relationship, and female identity, so the Instagram is another way to think about those subjects.”

The author receives stories and photographs of mothers from people all around the world.

“I love receiving the photos and venturing back to so many different decades and locales and individual stories,” she says.

For her book, Lepucki features photographs and essays from a diverse group of writers and poets, including Jia Tolentino, Laura Lippman and Brit Bennet.

Excerpt from the new book Mothers Before: Stories and Portraits of Our Mothers as We Never Saw Them (Abrams Image) collected and edited by Edan Lepucki, Book credit: ©Edan Lepucki, Text/photo credit: © Fran Melmed

Lepucki says the richness of people’s stories are inspiring and touching. “I love the idea that people’s lives are so long and rich, and that, through a daughter’s eyes, we can get a unique story, biased and beautiful for its bias.”

She celebrates the diversity of stories and experiences people share.

“Many people are close to their mothers and adore them, but others find their relationship thorny to manage,” she says. “Either way, there is a respect for a mother’s past and what she went through – and I think a real longing to have been around to know that younger person.”

Lepucki hopes these stories will inspire people to look at all mothers as not just matriarchs, but as complex individuals with fascinating stories.

“As long as we continue to disparage mothers and make fun of them as being culturally irrelevant, or merely toothless, I think it’s important that we remind people that mothers are people, too, with interesting lives and identities – as parents and just as people.”

“It seems obvious, I know, but for some reason we don’t allow mothers (and probably older women) to have rich inner lives and full histories and lives that matter,” she adds. “Mothers Before hopes to counter that.”

Read more stories on the Mothers Before Instagram page.

Mothers Before: Stories and Portraits of our Mothers as we Never Saw Them by Edan Lepucki published by Abrams AU$35.00 NZ$39.99 Available to purchase here.


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