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Saturday's Child: A Daughter's Memoir

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An only child, Deborah Burns grew up in prim 1950s America in the shadow of a her beautiful, unconventional, rule-breaking mother, Dorothy—a red-haired beauty who looked like Rita Hayworth and skirted norms with a style and flare that made her the darling of men and women alike. Married to the son of a renowned Italian family with ties to the underworld, Dorothy fervently An only child, Deborah Burns grew up in prim 1950s America in the shadow of a her beautiful, unconventional, rule-breaking mother, Dorothy—a red-haired beauty who looked like Rita Hayworth and skirted norms with a style and flare that made her the darling of men and women alike. Married to the son of a renowned Italian family with ties to the underworld, Dorothy fervently eschewed motherhood and domesticity, turning Deborah over to her spinster aunts to raise while she was the star of a vibrant social life. As a child, Deborah revered her charismatic mother, but Dorothy was a woman full of secrets with a troubled past—a mistress of illusion whose love seemed just out of her daughter’s grasp. In vivid, lyrical prose, Saturday’s Child tells the story of Deborah’s eccentric upbringing and her quest in midlife, long after her parents’ death, to uncover the truth about her mother and their complex relationship. No longer under the spell of her maternal goddess, but still caught in a wrenching cycle of love and longing, Deborah must finally confront the reality of her mother’s legacy—and finally claim her own.


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An only child, Deborah Burns grew up in prim 1950s America in the shadow of a her beautiful, unconventional, rule-breaking mother, Dorothy—a red-haired beauty who looked like Rita Hayworth and skirted norms with a style and flare that made her the darling of men and women alike. Married to the son of a renowned Italian family with ties to the underworld, Dorothy fervently An only child, Deborah Burns grew up in prim 1950s America in the shadow of a her beautiful, unconventional, rule-breaking mother, Dorothy—a red-haired beauty who looked like Rita Hayworth and skirted norms with a style and flare that made her the darling of men and women alike. Married to the son of a renowned Italian family with ties to the underworld, Dorothy fervently eschewed motherhood and domesticity, turning Deborah over to her spinster aunts to raise while she was the star of a vibrant social life. As a child, Deborah revered her charismatic mother, but Dorothy was a woman full of secrets with a troubled past—a mistress of illusion whose love seemed just out of her daughter’s grasp. In vivid, lyrical prose, Saturday’s Child tells the story of Deborah’s eccentric upbringing and her quest in midlife, long after her parents’ death, to uncover the truth about her mother and their complex relationship. No longer under the spell of her maternal goddess, but still caught in a wrenching cycle of love and longing, Deborah must finally confront the reality of her mother’s legacy—and finally claim her own.

30 review for Saturday's Child: A Daughter's Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marci

    An emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. I laughed.. I cried. I feel that I’ve lived vicariously through the author’s eyes. Such rich, vivid recollections and details, it reads like an intriguing novel. So full of emotion. I could not put this down.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Katie Devine

    In this beautifully written memoir, which opens with a haunting dream about the author's decades-deceased mother, Burns pulls apart the tangled layers of a complex and complicated relationship in search of understanding and relief. Moving from her 1950s childhood in an unconventional family, constantly seeking but never receiving the extent of the love she needed from her mother, to her own present as a mother, this book endeavors to uncover and face truths long concealed in order to be released In this beautifully written memoir, which opens with a haunting dream about the author's decades-deceased mother, Burns pulls apart the tangled layers of a complex and complicated relationship in search of understanding and relief. Moving from her 1950s childhood in an unconventional family, constantly seeking but never receiving the extent of the love she needed from her mother, to her own present as a mother, this book endeavors to uncover and face truths long concealed in order to be released from the tight hold her mother and their relationship has always had on her. Particularly moving are scenes with her own daughter, and how much they teach her about herself, her mother and their legacy. A lovely debut from an eloquent and incisive writer.

  3. 4 out of 5

    BookGypsy

    In this memoir by Deborah Burns we meet her mother Dorothy in the 1950's. A beautiful and deeply admired woman who married into an Italian family with dark ties into the underworld. Dorothy escapes motherhood by leaving Deborah with her aunt to raise her. Deborah describes her upbringing, the beautiful mother she idolized and longed for and the secrets she carried. A deep look into the life of girl and her mother. All that was and all that should have been. Dawnny-BookGypsy Novels N Latte Blog In this memoir by Deborah Burns we meet her mother Dorothy in the 1950's. A beautiful and deeply admired woman who married into an Italian family with dark ties into the underworld. Dorothy escapes motherhood by leaving Deborah with her aunt to raise her. Deborah describes her upbringing, the beautiful mother she idolized and longed for and the secrets she carried. A deep look into the life of girl and her mother. All that was and all that should have been. Dawnny-BookGypsy Novels N Latte Blog Hudson Valley NY

  4. 5 out of 5

    E.

    I loved this book! It's such a poignant story about a daughter's unconditional love for her mother, who was beautiful and strong, but often missing in her life. Her mother loved to socialize and left much of Deborah's upbringing to her sisters. But Deborah idolized her and fought to win her love. It was a complicated relationship that Deborah examines as an adult in this beautifully written memoir. I was fortunate to receive an advance copy. A must-read!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda Zagon

    Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “Saturday’s Child” by Deborah Burns, She Writes Press, April 9, 2019 Deborah Burns has written a unique and intriguing Memoir,”Saturday’s Child” “A Daughter’s Memoir” The author describes her life in the 1950’s and especially her complex, complicated and atypical relationship with her Mother, whom she idolized. During those years for Dorothy, her mother broke with the typical rules of tradition. and seemed to beat to the tune of her own drum. Certainly by today’s Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “Saturday’s Child” by Deborah Burns, She Writes Press, April 9, 2019 Deborah Burns has written a unique and intriguing Memoir,”Saturday’s Child” “A Daughter’s Memoir” The author describes her life in the 1950’s and especially her complex, complicated and atypical relationship with her Mother, whom she idolized. During those years for Dorothy, her mother broke with the typical rules of tradition. and seemed to beat to the tune of her own drum. Certainly by today’s standards, Deborah’s Memoir reflects a dysfunctional family. Dorothy preferred working, and left her two sister-in laws to bring up Deborah, and cook and take care of the house. (which was really a small apartment) Deborah looked forward to the time she did get to spend with her mother. During summers away, the author describes the wonderful times that she had, when her mother was around. Deborah describes her mother as a beautiful woman, who always was the center of attention. One part I found amusing, was when Deborah was at the Beauty Parlor, and saw that her mother’s hair was being dyed red, and was surprised.That reminds me of my Grandma Rosie, who had been married at least three times, and had her hair dyed blond. I had also believed she was a natural blond. This is a beautifully written and vividly describes the author’s life growing up. This also shows how Deborah Burns reflects on her relationship with her mother, and successfully builds her own life. I would recommend this for readers who enjoy Memoirs.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Daniele

    A loving memoir about a daughter who adores her unconventional mother. Deborah reveals the layers of the complex relationship she had with her larger than life mother, Dorothy. Growing up in the shadow of her glamorous mother ultimately nutured Deborah with the confidence to blossom into a successful woman of her own right.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Heather Frimmer

    This poetic memoir is a beautiful tribute to the author's magnetic and unconventional mother. The author honors her mother's life and incredible spirit through the most generous of viewpoints. I am in awe of her gorgeous prose and ability to craft a compulsively readable story. Don't miss this one!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    "Saturday's Child," a memoir by Deborah Burns, will stay with you. The writing alone - so smooth you hardly know a chapter has ended - demonstrates Burns's craftsmanship. What entranced me was the authenticity of the writer as she writes without prejudice about the relationship she shared with her mother. One of the most appealing sections of this "daughter's memoir" revolves around Burns's two aunts who lived with her as surrogate mothers. I truly became attached to them and even felt a tug to "Saturday's Child," a memoir by Deborah Burns, will stay with you. The writing alone - so smooth you hardly know a chapter has ended - demonstrates Burns's craftsmanship. What entranced me was the authenticity of the writer as she writes without prejudice about the relationship she shared with her mother. One of the most appealing sections of this "daughter's memoir" revolves around Burns's two aunts who lived with her as surrogate mothers. I truly became attached to them and even felt a tug to reread those pages in the book. As a reader, I wanted the story to continue. . . slow down, even. My interest in the relationship didn't stop when I finished reading. The narrator's strong voice latched on to me immediately. I promise you that certain lines will stay with you. Read it slowly to savor it. I read an early copy and look forward to the publication.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    I read a fair number of memoirs, mostly by women trying to figure out their lives. What happened and who happened are primarily the questions asked...and answered (at least in part) by these authors. Sometimes the questions can't be answered and the author continues to drift. The best and most psychologically sound authors can admit what they've come up with in their searches and move on. Deborah Burns has written "Saturday's Child: A Daughter's Memoir", in which she tries to put the pieces of I read a fair number of memoirs, mostly by women trying to figure out their lives. What happened and who happened are primarily the questions asked...and answered (at least in part) by these authors. Sometimes the questions can't be answered and the author continues to drift. The best and most psychologically sound authors can admit what they've come up with in their searches and move on. Deborah Burns has written "Saturday's Child: A Daughter's Memoir", in which she tries to put the pieces of her early life together to form a picture of her parents and how they related to each other and to her. Deborah Burns was an only child of a marriage that probably shouldn't have happened. Why it didn't end by divorce years earlier than it ended by death is a mystery I still haven't figured out. Her father, Jay, was from a famous Italian family, known for pugilism and owning a hotel in upstate New York for summer visitors. Think Jewish Catskills, but substitute Italian for Jewish. Her mother, Dorothy, was a looker from a family-from-hell who was looking for a way out, a man out. Jay and Dottie found each other, married, produced one child, and endured an unhappy marriage. How unhappy, you might ask? Well, Dottie had a boyfriend - married, as she was - for the last 30 or so years of her life. Why didn't Jay file for divorce? Who knows...I guess that 5 nights a week with gorgeous Dottie was better than no nights. While the book concerns her parents, it's mainly about Deborah and Dottie's relationship. Dottie was a classic narcissist; she could receive love but couldn't give back. It has taken therapy for Deborah to recognise and make her peace with her mother's memory. Deborah Burns is a good writer. I'm giving her book 3 stars because I had as many questions when I finished reading it as I did when I began.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Reader Views

    Reviewed by Christine Watson for Reader Views (12/19) “Saturday’s Child” by Deborah Burns is a beautifully written memoir of a mother-daughter relationship, and a child’s longing for the attention and love of her mother. Ms. Burns shares thoughts and feelings from her childhood that shows her vulnerability and innocence. Her childhood comes to life through her incredible writing which allows the reader to feel the author’s emotions and connect deeply with her. This memoir chronicles the life of Reviewed by Christine Watson for Reader Views (12/19) “Saturday’s Child” by Deborah Burns is a beautifully written memoir of a mother-daughter relationship, and a child’s longing for the attention and love of her mother. Ms. Burns shares thoughts and feelings from her childhood that shows her vulnerability and innocence. Her childhood comes to life through her incredible writing which allows the reader to feel the author’s emotions and connect deeply with her. This memoir chronicles the life of the author and her mother, from early childhood on, sharing the intimate hopes and desires of a child yearning for the love of her mother. From summers in a hotel resort, crammed living quarters, secrets and dreams left unfulfilled, this book is full of rich stories. I think most people can find part of themselves in this story because the author does an amazing job of sharing the vulnerability she felt as a child wanting to be worthy of being loved by her mother. Ms. Burns finds meaning in her life experiences as she connects the dots with the help of therapy, family, astrology and her own introspection. The author embraces her experiences, good and bad to create a fulfilling and meaningful life for herself. She also acquires a nickname when she starts working, the velvet hammer, which holds meaning for her throughout her life. She sets a powerful example for all that we can use the life story we were given and create what we want with it. I was absolutely inspired by this book. I can’t say enough about the incredible writing by Ms. Burns. This memoir reads like a novel, captivating the reader from the onset. This is a book you won’t want to put down once you start. I highly recommend it for anyone, but particularly those who want to learn about their own relationship with their mother through this author’s beautiful and raw story. “Saturday’s Child” by Deborah Burns has been a true gift for me as I never expected to have my heart and mind opened so fully by reading this book. Thank you, Ms. Burns, for sharing a piece of your heart. I am forever changed by reading this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    It’s sometimes difficult for me to adequately express all my thoughts and feelings about memoirs in particular, so bear with me. . I very much admire the author’s honesty and appreciate how difficult and emotional it must have been to put it all out there, so to speak. Upon looking back, Deborah realizes that her mothers perceived aloofness was a different kind of love, but some parts honestly made me sad. It shows just how different each parent-child relationship can be and it made me examine my It’s sometimes difficult for me to adequately express all my thoughts and feelings about memoirs in particular, so bear with me. . I very much admire the author’s honesty and appreciate how difficult and emotional it must have been to put it all out there, so to speak. Upon looking back, Deborah realizes that her mothers perceived aloofness was a different kind of love, but some parts honestly made me sad. It shows just how different each parent-child relationship can be and it made me examine my own relationship with my kids. What we say to them and how we act towards them have a huge impact and without a doubt affects how they see themselves and what they want from life. . Seeing all that her mother accomplished career-wise shaped Deborah’s desire to have a successful career, which she very much did/does. Likewise, growing up under her mother’s parenting style shaped her goal to be a different type of mother and be more present in their lives. So again, how our children see us live our lives has a big impact on what they want from life and what’s important to them. And just because they may not choose the same as us it doesn’t mean they love us any less. We all appreciate and learn from different aspects of our childhood. . This is a meaningful account of perception, discovery, and love. Deborah’s journey to find out who she really is later in life is inspiring. It also delivers a lot for parents to think about. I’m sure I’ll be turning it all over in my mind for a while.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Jenkinson

    In this beautifully written memoir, the author paints a vivid picture of her mother Dorothy and a supporting cast of family members who frequently took center stage in raising Deborah. Dorothy was glamorous, beautiful, and captured the attention of family, friends and strangers alike. But unfortunately, she was not your typical mother and relinquished most of the day to day motherly tasks to Deborah's aunts, Lily and Lena. Deborah's father, from a large Italian family, married Dorothy who, In this beautifully written memoir, the author paints a vivid picture of her mother Dorothy and a supporting cast of family members who frequently took center stage in raising Deborah. Dorothy was glamorous, beautiful, and captured the attention of family, friends and strangers alike. But unfortunately, she was not your typical mother and relinquished most of the day to day motherly tasks to Deborah's aunts, Lily and Lena. Deborah's father, from a large Italian family, married Dorothy who, unbeknownst to him, was significantly younger. He had big dreams and was an aspiring songwriter but with a far from conventional spouse or marriage, he spent a lot of time moving from one deal to the next. Deborah spent much of her time with her mother seeking her approval and love that always seemed just out of reach. This struggle was a big piece of her memoir and Deborah did a wonderful job of untangling years of family history, secrets, and truths in a seamless telling that spanned multiple generations. Full disclosure: I do not read a lot of memoirs. For me, often there isn't a good rhythm and I end up feeling like I am voyeuristically reading someone's journal.  That was not the case here. Burns was able to tell her story in such a way that it read like a well-written novel with fascinating characters. She successfully captured each person's personality through her eyes first as a child, then as a teen, adult, and finally as a mother herself. Some characters, like her aunts, I grew to love. I developed a soft spot for her father. Her mother - my feelings were mixed as a complicated mother/daughter relationship unfolded. My other issue with memoirs: most of the family members are portrayed in a terrible light. And that's not to say that there aren't terrible family members in families because we all have them in our lives. But Deborah found a way in both the book and in her own life to honor her mother but still use her painful experiences to succeed in her career, her marriage, and as a mother. I finished this book with a deep admiration for Deborah and for me, that is a sign of an excellent memoir.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rita Dragonette

    Deborah Burns has penned a memoir around the incredible character of a beautiful, self-absorbed mother who deserved a bigger life that she was able to achieve in her time, and who fiercely worked to push it to the edge of the envelope as much as she could. This woman (who would make a great, central character in a work of fiction) turns her family into facilitators who obligingly and not always wittingly enable her to be as independent as possible. There are secrets and mixed messages that Deborah Burns has penned a memoir around the incredible character of a beautiful, self-absorbed mother who deserved a bigger life that she was able to achieve in her time, and who fiercely worked to push it to the edge of the envelope as much as she could. This woman (who would make a great, central character in a work of fiction) turns her family into facilitators who obligingly and not always wittingly enable her to be as independent as possible. There are secrets and mixed messages that unfold into understanding only over a lifetime. The story is told through her adoring only-child daughter whose goal in life is to get her love and attention and who lives off the glow of their moments together. This tale of the impact of a character who looms so large and can’t help but always chose herself, is riveting during the daughter’s early childhood, when all she can do is react. It becomes more contemplative through the stages of her life through to the present as she grapples with influences negative and ultimately positive. A very personal, cathartic story that his highly relatable for anyone who has a dominant yet distant mother, leaving the child to wonder why, and spend the inevitable life’s journey sifting the evidence to achieve resolution and peace.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Book Review: Saturday's Child: A Daughter's Memoir by Deborah Burns The quest for belonging with a vivid look into the world of a brutally honest relationship between Mother and Daughter will have you captured. Deborah Burns has created an illuminating and alluring look into what was her life was as a young girl, growing up in the 1950s, while in the shadows of a narcissistic mother. It's painful, insightful and personal. It's an emotionally charged story without contempt and one of breaking free Book Review: Saturday's Child: A Daughter's Memoir by Deborah Burns The quest for belonging with a vivid look into the world of a brutally honest relationship between Mother and Daughter will have you captured. Deborah Burns has created an illuminating and alluring look into what was her life was as a young girl, growing up in the 1950s, while in the shadows of a narcissistic mother. It's painful, insightful and personal. It's an emotionally charged story without contempt and one of breaking free and reaching for reconciliation and peace. A brutally honest debut that will leave you cheering for Deborah's strength and ownership of her struggles, and journey into womanhood. I thank Deborah Burns for my personal, signed copy, of this story as it has allowed me to see more clearly, the dynamic of Mother and Daughter-that is not always what we believe it too be, from the outside looking in. 4 Stars Wild Sage Book Blog (FB) Novels & Latte Book Club (FB) #SaturdaysChild #DeborahBurns

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Gatt

    Every minute was worth immersing myself in this impressive memoir! Burns beautifully invites reader’s into her journey as a child in the 1950s and how she’s evolved as an adult, wife, mother and professional. The primary focus is on Deborah’s relationship with her mother Dottie and how it’s significantly impacted her emotions, relationships and decisions along each step of the way. If you’re looking for a memoir with unique perspectives and captivating prose, this is the book for you! Get ready to Every minute was worth immersing myself in this impressive memoir! Burns beautifully invites reader’s into her journey as a child in the 1950s and how she’s evolved as an adult, wife, mother and professional. The primary focus is on Deborah’s relationship with her mother Dottie and how it’s significantly impacted her emotions, relationships and decisions along each step of the way.⁣ ⁣ If you’re looking for a memoir with unique perspectives and captivating prose, this is the book for you! Get ready to become obsessed with this mother-daughter duo and the raw, vulnerable revelations that slowly unravel about identity, perception and truth. ⁣

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Moss

    I loved Deborah Burns's thoughtful exploration of the complex terrain of her relationship with her stunning, mysterious mother. Burns also shows the heartbreaking aspirations of both her parents. As she grows into herself, she faces their demise -- and then experiences both the exhilaration and the psychological burden of being more successful than they were, i.e., more effectual out in the world. Saturday's Child is insightful and compassionate, as well as being highly entertaining and I loved Deborah Burns's thoughtful exploration of the complex terrain of her relationship with her stunning, mysterious mother. Burns also shows the heartbreaking aspirations of both her parents. As she grows into herself, she faces their demise -- and then experiences both the exhilaration and the psychological burden of being more successful than they were, i.e., more effectual out in the world.  Saturday's Child is insightful and compassionate, as well as being highly entertaining and beautifully written. I wholeheartedly recommend this absorbing read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marlena

    Saturday’s Child is rich and exciting, a daughter’s search for the truth about her gorgeous, enigmatic mother who lives an unconventional life. Deborah Burns examines not only the family dynamic, but it’s impact on her own becoming. Detailed and explored with authenticity, Saturday’s Child is a very fine memoir.

  18. 4 out of 5

    JENNSOLO

    I was surprised by so many high ratings. I wanted to like this book but to me, it seemed a bit disjointed & all over the place. I thought some of the wording sounded novice & poorly written. I feel for the author’s familial experience and really wanted to like the book more, but just could not get into it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Justin W

    Deborah Burns' book - Saturday's Child - offers a deeply satisfying story of a child peeling away the many layers of awe and adoration of a larger-than-life, highly flawed parent. As she chips away at her Number One hero, the narrator nonetheless finds a figure who remains worthy of love and capable of love. Saturday's Child provides a road map that many of us would do well to follow.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Candi Cross

    Exquisite fusion of emotional and intellectual details portraying the “real” mother-daughter relationship that a lot of us maintain throughout our lives but are too squeamish to do the dirty work in order to identify - not to mention get on with our lives in a triumphant way. Best memoir I’ve read in a long time.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne Blasberg

    This memoir really touched me with its theme of the ties between mothers and daughters the stretch forward and backward for generations. I listened to the audio narrated by the author which was really powerful. As an only daughter, I related to this story in a number of ways and it’s beautiful unfolding brought me in. It is a personal story yet universal and timeless.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sondra Helene

    This is a beautifully written mother-daughter memoir. The author vividly pulled me into the story in the first chapter. I loved the scenes at the hotel in the Italian Alps and then the ones in her cramped apartment in Queens. I couldn’t put it down!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kay Enderlin

    Saturday's child was a wonderful book to read of A memoir of Deborah Burns. I give this book five stars. It was a great book to read about Deborah's life and how she grew up with her wonderful mother. It touched your heart and so many ways!!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shannon A.Moran

    Hits you in the daughters heart Wow. The mother/daughter dance exposed. I had so many emotions reading the book I could have been on a rollercoaster. I came out pleased, enlightened and grateful author wrote this to share.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Janis Rich

    This is the memoir of Debbie telling the story of the relationship with her mother, Dottie, and her family growing up in the 50s and, subsequently, how her own adult life adjustments to that upbringing. The story was interesting to me having grown up at the same time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Ghedine

    Enjoyed this book from first time author, Deborah Burns. The story of a young girl (turned woman) who tried her entire life to be seen by her narcissistic mother. Well done.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julie Sucha Anderson

    Beautifully written. A memoir of the mother/daughter relationship. Interesting, thoughtful, and brave. I enjoyed it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Smith

    It's a good book. I enjoyed it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This is a story of a complex mother daughter relationship. I enjoyed the insights.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

    A very well written memoir about a daughter with a beautiful, willful, narcissistic mother.

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