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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Masters Thesis (Campus-Only Access)

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Trueblood, Kathryn R., 1960-

Second Advisor

Miller, Brenda, 1959-

Third Advisor

Goebel, Bruce A., 1958-


This novel excerpt is from Maelstroms, a coming-of-age story that explores an unusual mother-daughter relationship: one built on subtle manipulations where the roles are often reversed. We meet Lana Grey in the present: she’s 35 years old, living in Chicago with her fiancé, and working as a horticulturist. On page one, Lana reveals that she hasn’t spoken to her mother, Anna, in over a year. Then she receives a phone call—Anna is in the hospital. As Lana packs her bag and flies to her mother’s hospital bed in Los Angeles, her mind drifts back in time to her childhood and she begins to reflect on significant moments with her mother, the first of which is that unforgettable day at Choo-Choo Pre-School. As Lana recalls these moments, from four years old to sixteen, Lana attempts not only to understand—but to come to terms with—the precarious relationship she shares with her mother. Central to Lana’s story is that moment when a child realizes that their parent is, after all, a flawed human being. In one moment, Lana recalls her mother’s warm, sage advice after a bully slips a nasty note into her locker at school. In the next moment, Lana recalls when Anna tells her that she’s had an affair with a man who isn’t Lana’s father. The predictable irrationality that Lana experiences in this relationship pushes Lana out of her role as daughter and into a role unfamiliar: that of confidante. In this moment, the pedestal that Lana has so carefully placed her mother on begins to crack. Maelstroms is a novel that explores the dusty, unlit corners of the mother-daughter relationship and, ultimately, is a story that explores how women—especially mothers and their daughters—come to understand their relationships with each other.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Bildungsromans; Mothers and daughters--Fiction




masters theses




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