Tea Leaves

by Janet Mason

In this forthright personal memoir, author and poet Janet Mason reflects on the factory-worker lives of her mother and grandmother in working class Philadelphia while she copes with her mother’s final illness. Her mother’s feminist example and unwavering support of a lesbian daughter become increasingly poignant as Janet explores the choices not open to her mother that she made for herself.

Equally pressing is the sheer labor of dealing with medical misdiagnosis and subsequent treatment of her mother, and the toll it takes on her own relationship as she spends increasing hours in conversation with the woman who gave her life.

Tea Leaves is about daughters, mothers and women, their choices, and the never-ending circles of their entwined lives.



In stock



Genre LGBT Memoir
Length 208
Publication Date April 15, 2012
Publisher Bella Books
ISBN 9781594932786
Editor Katherine V. Forrest
Cover Designer Judy Fellows


  • In addition to being a moving and affirming account of a lesbian life, Tea Leaves is the first nonfiction book in over a decade to address directly the issues of lesbians caring for elderly parents and the nature of the resulting mother-daughter relationship.
  • Appropriate to library nonfiction collections dealing with eldercare and memoirs.
  • Read the appetizer! Click to open a PDF in a new window.


GCLS Goldie Awards

Tea LeavesWinner,
Memoir/Short Stories/Collections.

Lambda Literary Review

Tea Leaves tells the story of a daughter coming to jarring, painful grips with her mother’s (Jane) impending death, and the burgeoning conviction that, in spite of their differences, they are not strangers...The title references the disdain for superstition Janet’s mother held, while underscoring the tenuous nature of the future, where no predictions can prepare us adequately for grief... Mason has given us a gift: the opportunity to look into her matrilineal memories, and to take a moment to look into a mirror, and remember the women who gave both our faces and our characters their shape.

Book Marks, Richard LaBonte

A lesbian comes to terms with her family's history, with class differences, with her difficult mother, with the inevitability of aging and with the end of a loved one's life: there are layers of heart-grabbing accomplishment in this intimate memoir... But if there's a moral to Mason's emotional ruminations, it's that the immediacy of death does heal wounds. That's both the candid core of this loving reminiscence, and a universal truth for readers whose parents are making the transition from vital to vulnerable.

Reviews by Amos Lassen

The beauty of the book is not only in the gorgeous prose but in the way it is so personal yet open to us. Mason deals with her mother’s illness with great care and anyone who has ever lost a parent to a lingering illness can relate to what we read.... There is something here for everyone who has ever loved someone else or plans to. I highly recommend “Tea Leaves” just because it is so real and so beautifully written.

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