8 Things I Learned from UNBECOMING by Jenny Downham

unbecoming by jenny downham

Daughter: Do you sometimes feel like your mom doesn’t understand you?

Mother: Are you curious, worried, afraid (all of the above) of what goes through your daughter’s head? Do you wish she would open up more or at the very least update you on her life?

Grandma: Have you ever tried telling your daughter or your granddaughter to just listen to one another?


When I was growing up, I was the master at begging, pleading, and bargaining my way to a later curfew. Or sometimes, I just lied because the truth would have just made my mom say, “No.” I never did anything bad. I just wouldn’t tell her I was going to the movies or to the mall or out hiking. Instead, I’d tell her my best friend and I were doing homework at her house. You’re probably thinking that I should have saved those lies for when I was going to a party or a rager or whatever else high-schoolers did. But I wasn’t really a party-goer or your average teen. My Fridays and Saturdays pretty much consisted of a book and a steaming hot cup of passion fruit tea or when I felt rebellious, I was at the movies or the mall or out hiking with my best friend. Really.

This habit of lying eventually wore off after graduation. But during that time, I remember I never felt like I could open up to my mom for whatever reason. I think I automatically assumed she wouldn’t understand. But after reading UNBECOMING by Jenny Downham, I now realize she had her reasons, and I probably wouldn’t have understood them at the time. If you’re struggling with the same disconnect, I urge you to read UNBECOMING. If the book doesn’t help you see your mom more clearly as a person with feelings and with frustrations, then at the very least you’ll enjoy a remarkable story and shed a few tears.

Now, I’m sure you’re dying to read the eight things I learned from reading this heartbreaking story. Read on.

1. Secrets are not meant to be kept secret. Even if you think you’re keeping it for the sake of the other person, don’t.

secrets hurt

2. There are different layers and versions of truth. And sometimes that truth is fluid, a work in progress. But the different narratives of truth doesn’t make one more right than the other.

different layers to the truth

3. Sometimes all you need to do is listen.

just listen

4. Your mom is human. She can make mistakes.

moms are human

5. Your mom was a daughter before she was a mother. She probably understands.

your mom was a daughter before she was a mom

6. You have to stand up for what you believe in. Be true to who you are.

being normal is overrated

7. Your grandma has a wealth of wisdom and stories. You can learn a thing or two from her.

8. No matter what you’ve done or said to hurt your mom, intentionally or unintentionally, she will always have your back. Always. 
mom has your back

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