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Fiction Literary

Things You've Inherited From Your Mother

by (author) Hollie Adams

NeWest Press
Initial publish date
May 2015
Literary, Family Life, Black Humor
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2015
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2015
    List Price

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"Sins don't destroy people here. Dreams do."

In a small city somewhere in an oil-rich Canadian province just east of the Rockies, a political scandal has erupted: an aging cabinet minister has struck and killed a member of his local constituency

About the author

Hollie Adams is a Windsorite living in Alberta, where she teaches writing and literature. She has studied creative writing at the University of Windsor and has a PhD in English from the University of Calgary. Her writing has been published in several Canadian periodicals including Prairie Fire, The Antigonish Review, Carousel, The Windsor Review, and Filling Station, and online at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Things You’ve Inherited From Your Mother is her first novel.

Hollie Adams' profile page


  • Short-listed, Best Book Cover Design at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards

Excerpt: Things You've Inherited From Your Mother (by (author) Hollie Adams)

Tuesday your mother died. Ovarian cancer.

Last Tuesday she refused to drink the hospital's coffee-flavoured coffee, asked you to pretty-please drive to that coffee shop with the elaborate coffee that tastes like not-coffee, the coffee that tastes like what rich French people eat for dessert.

"Crème Brûlée would be preferable but I'll settle for Belgian Chocolate." She nodded towards her hospital room door as if to say, "Well, what're you waiting for?"

When you asked her which coffee shop she was talking about, she only made a fluttering motion with her hand, and said, "Oh, you know, any of them that have the good stuff."

You took your time collecting your things from the beside table: a sad-looking wallet, depressed in the middle from a run-in (or run-over) with a car tire (yours); a lid-less ChapStick, the top of which has grown fuzzy from pocket lint; a series of interconnected key-rings linked to a plastic sprinkle donut keychain; a celebrity gossip magazine swiped from the hospital waiting room, the bottom right-hand corner of the cover ripped off to protect the subscriber's anonymity. You moved your body as if swimming in a cream-based soup, lifting your purse slowly to demonstrate what an epic feat of strength it was, saying nothing, because if you gave her some time and made a little show of it, she would suddenly remember her manners, open the top drawer, hand you a bill. A five at least.

But she only added: "Don't forget I'm off dairy. But none of that soy crap either. Lord knows I have enough estrogen coursing through these veins."

You looked to the coat-rack-like apparatus beside her bed, flicked the clear, fluid-filled baggie hanging from it like a giant cartoon raindrop with the nail of your index finger.

"Oh, so that's what's in there. Pure estrogen! Silly doctors. No wonder you're not getting any better." You patted the top of her head, regretting it instantly, fearing her hair, now the consistency of candy floss, would be pushed right off her head by the force of your affection.

"If you would've taken ten minutes out of your busy schedule to read that article I gave you, you'd be off dairy and soy too. Dairy causes cervical cancer. The Swedes have confirmed it."

"And what does soy milk cause? Brain cancer?"

"And bloating." She chin-pointed at your midsection.

"Hey, buddy, my eyes are up here." And you felt glad to be crossing the room towards the door, towards the outside world, even if only to go search the city in rush-hour traffic, hoping you had enough gas to find a mythical cup of non-dairy-non-soy, yet somehow still milked coffee you'd have to charge to your credit card.

Did she believe that if she drank cow's milk now in the throes of one type of terminal cancer, she would also develop another type of terminal cancer? Did she think switching to almond milk would cure her incurable cancer? Or was she just trying to find your limits, test your willingness to help her finish the craft project she's working on from page 29 of Sewing With Cat Hair, pushing you until you called her bluff?

How did you deal with her? You must be a saint, a wizard. You should write a book. A how-to self-help manual. For daughters dealing with their impossible dying mothers.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Things You've Inherited from Your Mother:
"Accessible, energetic and humorous!"
~ Angie Abdou, Quill and Quire
"At its best, Things You've Inherited From Your Mother realizes the inability of some people - we all know one or two - to be authentic, with the genuine humanity behind their smarminess only peeking through in times of disaster."
~ Bryn Evans, Alberta Views
"Hollie Adams has boldly tossed most first-novel conventions out the window."
~ Traci Skuce, The Coastal Spectator