available for order now

“Good Daughter, Good Mother”



Mothers give birth. Good mothers give unconditional love, a harder and rarer thing. From the opening stories of Good Daughter, Good Mother the reader gets to know Margaret, the author’s 1950’s Irish Catholic mother, and Minga, an impoverished, dark-skinned, illiterate Panamanian woman. Both were mothers. Both loom large in the author’s identity as a daughter, a mother, and now a grandmother. Only one gave Klainer the kind of open, unreserved love she most longed for. This is a mother-daughter story in a rich and vivid context, moving from the pastel shirtwaist dresses of the 1950’s to Klainer’s crisp blue business suit of the 1980’s, from the early and sudden death of her infant sister and father to the warm embrace of Minga and her large extended family, from rosary beads that glowed in the dark to an interfaith marriage and secular family, from love withheld to love simply offered and accepted. This is a story that will appeal to mothers and daughters, to readers curious about cross-cultural friendship, and to believers in family of the heart.


Available through Amazon




In addition to her new memoir, Pamela York Klainer is the author of How Much Is Enough? a 2002 publication of Basic Books in New York. She is a retired financial entrepreneur, former Peace Corps volunteer, long distance cyclist, global traveler, a daughter, a mother and grandmother. She lives in downtown Seattle near her two adult offspring and grandchildren.





“I have been an admirer of Pamela York Klainer’s writing for many years. This Memoir which is very profound about mothers and daughters offers so much more about the meaning of life and death, the difficulty of close relationships, the challenges for women in our era and the deeply personal trajectory each of us has as we go through life, while at the same time finding great resources in those we connect with along the way. It is one of the most moving memoirs I have ever read.”

Monica McGoldrick, MSW, PhD (h.c.), Director of the Multicultural Family Institute in Highland Park, NJ

“Pam Klainer’s heartfelt and moving memoir, Good Daughter, Good Mother, bears witness and pays tribute to the experience of profound loss, the search for identity, the roles of daughter, student, volunteer, wife, mother, and writer.  Klainer creates unforgettable scenes that convey the destructive power of secrets, lies, and emotional violence.  Klainer’s description of time in Panama as a Peace Corps volunteer shows the joy and challenges of trying to understand the deep values of another culture.
This memoir powerfully explores the questions: How do you shape and live a life?  What do you value most? How do you find teachers, mentors, and wisdom figures who will provide the nurturing and love you may not have received where and when you needed it most.”

Dr. Laura Winters, Professor of English, College of St. Elizabeth

“ I LOVED your book. From the crafting of the opening scene (which I could totally relate to) to your vividly expressed Peace Corp experience (which I could never do and admire you for) through allowing me into the sanctity of your life with Jerry and devastating loss of him (unimaginable) to your poignant telling of your return to Minga and Panama —you had THIS reader captivated and charmed inside the story of your life. I read the book in two evenings!”

Maria DiTullio, EdD, Associate Professor of Psychology, LeMoyne College, and therapist in private practice

“This poignant memoir tells the story of the author and her contrasting relationships with her mother of birth, and the mother figure of her heart.   Margaret, her the Irish Catholic American from New Jersey, had a personality that pushed her family away.  She raised three daughters who became professionals, although expressed little to no love.  Minga, the mother figure of her heart, was a poor, rural Panamanian mother of nine whom the author befriended during her Peace Corps days.  The pull of the Panamanian mother, her unconditional love, and mothering, reunited them all 40 years later.  The author shares the emotional journey away from her birth mother in New Jersey, to Rochester after her marriage, to her children in Seattle after the death of the love of her life Jerry, and now to Panama for annual visits to Minga. Today, the Panamanian extended family lives are intertwined with the author’s, and those of her family and friends. The complex relationships, contrasting cultures, Catholic and agnostic philosophies, and friendship with a nun, tell interesting, moving stories of life, from daughter, to mother, and now Tia Pamela.”

Kathleen Leask Capitulo PhD, RN

“In Good Daughter, Good Mother, Klainer recalls her life-threatening illness during her Peace Corp days in Panama. She writes:  I remember the red arc of their nearly spent cigarettes being flicked into the night. I remember the soft murmur of women’s voices. With wooden doors ajar, bats flew freely in and out, and in my delirium I thought their flapping wings were angels.  These lines invite the reader into the emotional center of this memoir. They are one example of the tenderness and vulnerability Klainer shares with her readers. They capture her past and foreshadow what is yet to come in the various mother/daughter relationships throughout her memoir of literal and metaphorical contrasts: joy and pain, anger and reconciliation, bluntness and discernment, harshness and mercy, resentfulness and charity. This always honest, often witty account of her own experience encourages us to do what all good works of art do…explore deeply the intimate details and events of one life and contemplate their meaning for us in relation to our own understanding of the human experience.”

Lynne McEniry, poet and director of the Academic Success Center at the College of Saint Elizabeth where she also teaches writing and literature.

“This nimbly-written memoir takes us from childhood to widowhood, through career success and motherhood, through the shaping and re-shaping of one woman’s life with two mothers in two countries to find unconditional love in an unlikely place.  Pam Klainer’s keen self-observation gives the age-old mother-daughter saga a fresh perspective with her sharp cross-cultural insights and eye-opening experiences.”

Virginia Daly, Washington, DC

“Pam Klainer’s beautifully told memoir moved me deeply and in doing so connected me closer to myself and to the author in ways both familiar and unfamiliar . At the turn of every page , she reminds us to have the courage and heart to ” walk through the door” in front of you. Pam walks us through the many doors of her life— in sorrow, in joy, by necessity, in triumph and with purpose. Because what we imagine for our lives will come and go and come back again in different and unimaginable ways . Pam Klainer’s life recounted here with honesty , humility, and humor is a testimony to this.”

Sharon Napier, Founder and CEO, Partners + Napier

“In her absorbing memoir, Pamela Klainer’s honesty and authenticity shines through and draws the reader into an evocative, adventurous, soul searching quest for identity and connection. Pam takes us into the depths of her heart, revealing the painful as well as the transcendent relationships she has experienced in her rich life. We witness love yearned for and fulfilled, love negated,denied and lost, love grieved, transformed and redeemed. It is a fascinating journey.”

Amy Klainer Moss, avid reader and book club member

“With significant self-reflection and amazing sensitivity toward her subjects, this daughter describes a tale of the two women who were the mothers-of-circumstance in her life … She contrasts their influences on her own needs and growth as a woman throughout the best and worst of times …The feelings drawn from these mother-daughter relationships are honest to the core and insightful for the reader on many levels … Moreover, the author offers an empathy for a cultural viewpoint that is not typically American … The memoir is both easy to read and personally enriching at the same time … It should be recommended to everyone who is a daughter.”

Bev Flynn, retired high school counselor/NYS and former Peace Corps volunteer/Ecuador