Eye of My Heart

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Published by: Harper Collins
Pages: 336
ISBN13: 978-0061474163


27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother


First comes the rush of wonder and delight: You’re going to be a grandmother!—your reward for all those years of sleepless nights and worry over your child who now, miraculously, will soon become a parent too.

And yet, as the smart, irreverent and unflinchingly honest essays in Eye of My Heart attest, becoming a grandmother is one of life’s most profound, complicated, and sometimes surprising passages—especially in today’s world where grandparents are working longer, adult children often live far away, and divorce and remarriage touch multiple generations. There are unsurpassed joys to be sure, but most grandmothers also contend with unexpected emotions, complex family dynamics, and no small number of ironies as they find their way in the new order.

Barbara Graham felt devastated when her son and daughter-in-law moved with their new baby from Graham’s neighborhood in Washington, D.C. to Paris. As she discloses in her title essay, she was forced to examine her own expectations about grandmotherhood. For insight, solace, and comic relief she turned to a group of remarkable writers, all grandmothers, to give voice to a role that is as primal as parenthood, but which is usually discussed in the most simplistic and sentimental terms.

In this groundbreaking collection you will encounter the real stories that usually go untold. Free of platitudes, the essays in Eye of My Heart are bound by a common thread: a love for grandchildren that knows no bounds, despite very real boundaries and limitations.



“Truth telling with dollops of love.” 
— O Magazine

“So many different perspectives and vantage points are woven seamlessly that no matter what their personal relationship to the word ‘grandmother’ is, readers will find much to make them laugh out loud—and also to break their hearts.”
— Christian Science Monitor

“In illuminating, unsentimental essays, 27 writers offer up insights on the tricky art of grandmothering.”
— People

“Finally, a look at grandmothering that is decidedly unsentimental. These essays offer humor and insight as they take on the multigenerational lives many of us now lead.”
— Cokie Roberts, author of We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters

“Insightful and candid, sometimes painfully so. . . . Women who have achieved grandmotherly status will appreciate this engaging, honest volume of essays by . . . writers who articulate shared emotions about their grandchildren.”
— Publishers Weekly

“These stories are so fresh and fundamental, wrenching and joyful, that one is left feeling that the subject has never been cracked open before.” — Harriet Lerner, author of The Dance of Anger “Truthful and anything but sugar-coated.”
More Magazine (Canada)

“This collection will ring true to the grandmother who is tuned in to her own mixed emotions. . . . This is not a sugary mess. Many of the story edges are hard, even jagged, though all are washed over with wonder.”
 Lincoln Journal Star 

“As many of us become the elders of our various tribes, we need stories to help us understand what is happening to us, to feel accompanied in our new roles, corroborated in our feelings and quandaries, connected with others
with whom we now form that windbreaker circle of protection and nurture for those younger than us.”
— Julia Alvarez, author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

“Realistic and gutsy, these essays offer encouragement and instruction to those of us who have stepped into new roles as elders. They are as rich with laughter as with sobering insights about the way we live now.”
— Literary Mama.com

“As someone who was partly raised by my maternal grandparents and adored them, I always knew that grandmotherhood would be intense for me. But I didn’t realize that it would be such a revelation. Eye of My Heart really does what its subtitle suggests—reveals the pleasures and perils of grandmotherhood.”
— Erica Jong, author of Fear of Fifty


On the one hand, it seemed so simple. There was a new baby, Isabelle Eva, who looked like she had just arrived fresh from heaven: perfect, alert, hungry, a fierce and tiny angel. There was nothing to do except love her, this pearl of a granddaughter, born on a full moon to my son, Clay, and his wife, Tamar. The rush I felt when I saw her was pure, primordial, an animal love I’m certain is biological. And because Clay and Tamar had recently moved from Paris to Washington, D.C. to be near my husband, Hugh, and me, not only was I privileged to be present the night of Isabelle’s birth, I got to see her, hold her—love her—nearly every day. I could track the subtle, minute changes in her as she woke up to this world.

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Author Q&A



From the title essay, "Eye of My Heart", by Barbara Graham

Two o’clock on a Monday afternoon. I’m on deadline, but instead of writing I check my e-mail every two seconds. Then I stare at the phone for a while, as if I can somehow shame it into ringing. But nobody’s calling, and the only e-mails coming through on this sticky August day are from the VitaminShoppe and somebody called Magicklady who wants to read my tarot cards.

I feel like I’m back in high school waiting to hear from The Guy—a desperate love slave longing for a sign. But this time the object of my devotion isn’t some dark-eyed bad boy; it’s my baby granddaughter, Isabelle Eva. And the guy I’m dying to hear from is her father, my son and only child, Clay.

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