The Girl in the Red Boots

Making Peace with My Mother

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Pub Date 04 May 2021 | Archive Date 06 Jul 2021

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Can a mother be both loving and selfish? Caring and thoughtless? Deceitful and devoted? These are the questions that fuel psychologist Dr. Judy Rabinor’s quest to understand her ambivalence toward her mother.

While leading a seminar exploring the importance of the mother-daughter relationship, Dr. Judy Rabinor, an eating disorder expert, is blindsided by a memory of a childhood trauma. Realizing how this buried trauma has resonated through her life, she sets off to heal herself. The Girl in the Red Boots weaves together tales from Rabinor’s psychotherapy practice and her life, helping readers understand how painful childhood experiences can linger and leave emotional scars. In the process, Rabinor traces her own journey becoming a wounded healer and ultimately making peace with her mother, and herself.

Not a traditional self-help book outlining “steps” to reconcile or forgive one’s mother, The Girl in the Red Boots is a poignant memoir filled with hard-won life lessons, including the fact that it’s never too late to let go of hurts and disappointments and develop compassion for yourself—and even for your mother.

Can a mother be both loving and selfish? Caring and thoughtless? Deceitful and devoted? These are the questions that fuel psychologist Dr. Judy Rabinor’s quest to understand her ambivalence toward...

Advance Praise

“This is an introspective work . . . a fascinating examination of how daughters make peace with their moms.”

―Kirkus Reviews

“In this engaging book, Rabinor reflects on the most complex, intense and important of all relationships, the one between mothers and daughters. She shares the story of her journey from pain and anger to acceptance and gratitude and explores the journeys of other mothers and daughters too. Rabinor’s professional work with eating disorders has given her a unique vantage point on these most timeless of stories. Her book is candid, fresh and inspiring.”

―Mary Pipher, author of Women Rowing North and Reviving Ophelia

“The complex relationship between mothers and daughters is brought vividly to life as Rabinor, a psychologist who specializes in mother-daughter relationships, weaves together stories from her office and her life. As she helps others, she sorts out a lifetime of her own unresolved feelings. A riveting read that reminds us that parenting is fragile, love is always flawed and it’s never too late to understand ourselves and our mothers.”

―Jane Goldberg, author of The Dark Side of Love

“Mother loss comes in many different forms, as Judy Rabinor explores in this affecting story of the fractured, flawed mother-daughter relationship that entangled her for decades. As a long-time psychotherapist, Rabinor is an expert on grief and healing. As a daughter, she longed for a deeper connection with a mother whose imperfect love, ultimately, left her with valuable gifts and insights to share. Both of those threads make The Girl in the Red Boots a unique and valuable contribution in the bereavement field.”

―Hope Edelman, New York Times best-selling author of Motherless Daughters, Motherless Mothers, and The Aftergrief

“Dr. Judy Rabinor is not only a master clinician and teacher but also an extraordinarily gifted weaver of a tapestry of healing. The Girl in the Red Boots beautifully illustrates how our own wounds and vulnerabilities can truly inform and inspire our work with our clients. And it also reveals all the ways our clients’ journeys can inform and inspire our own healing and recovery. But this book is not simply for psychotherapists and their clients. It’s a book for all mothers and daughters everywhere. Actually, speaking as a son and a father, it’s a book for all of us. Read it. It will open your heart.”

―David Treadway, PhD, author of Treating Couples Well: A Collaborative Guide to Collaborative Family Therapy

“A compelling read. The Girl in the Red Boots delves into things often not spoken of by therapists. Judy works, thinks and shares perspectives outside the box. Readers are left with a beautiful reminder that giving respect and compassion. To others’ pain makes just a bit easier to give it to your loved ones and yourself.”

— Carolyn Costin, founder of The Carolyn Costin Institute and author of 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder

“Dr. Rabinor cuts through the common misunderstandings of therapy in an intimate sharing of her work and her life issues; she meets her patients pain for pain. Reading the insights of this wounded healer about the lingering effects of childhood trauma, I nodded in agreement, dazzled.”

―Jesse Kornbluth, author and screenwriter

“In this captivating book, Dr. Rabinor lifts the therapeutic veil, revealing her own growth and healing while working with clients’ mother-daughter conflicts. She gently guides the reader to discover what happens when one expresses pent-up love rather than pent-up anger. Immersing myself in The Girl in the Red Boots felt like entering a secret sorority where the tensions and conflicts of my own relationship with my mother were soothed by the insight, wisdom, and compassion Dr. Rabinor provided. The result―an enhanced appreciation and longing for my own mother. This is a must-read for anyone who has or is a mother!”

―Dr. Amy Banks, co-author of Wired to Connect: The Surprising Link Between Brain Science and Strong, Healthy Relationships, founding scholar at the International Center for Growth in Connection (ICGC), and senior scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women

“Dr. Rabinor’s impeccable storytelling ability makes for a riveting journey as she pivots between complex client cases and the processing of both ordinary and extraordinary moments in her own life. The memoir also provides non-clinicians with a beautiful mode for holding seemingly contradictory feelings about loved ones; her compassionate authenticity normalizes and celebrates this reality of the human experience.”

―Katie Rickel, PhD, CEO of Structure House

“Read this book slowly. Your own mother will seep into the pages . . . and you will want to push her away. Judy’s story helps us look deeply at our own mothers, to see what we may have missed, to quiet our anger. She helps us start to forgive. The Girl in the Red Boots is a compelling read―a story not just about the author and her patients but also about you.”

―Judith Brisman, PhD, author of Surviving an Eating Disorder: Strategies for Family and Friends

“I applaud Judy Rabinor for giving women permission to examine their mother-daughter relationships. Through sharing and weaving her own mother-daughter story with those of clients, Judy explains how we can forgive hurtful and hindering imperfections and re-story painful experiences with love and compassion. This book shows it is never too late to widen our lens and grow through healing our childhood wounds.”

―June Alexander, PhD, author of A Collaborative Approach to Eating Disorders

“The Girl in the Red Boots is a deep and beautiful memoir. Judy Rabinor draws you into your inner world as she explores love and healing in her relationship with her mother. A must-read!”

―Judi Goldstein, MSS, LSW, vice president of The Renfrew Center Foundation

“This heartfelt journey into the mother-daughter relationship touched me deeply as a mother, a daughter, and a therapist. Highly recommended for any woman with a desire to understand herself more fully.”

— Hilary Jacobs Hendel, author of It’s Not Always Depression

“Master therapist Dr. Judy Rabinor reveals the hidden workings of eating disorders, the secrets of great psychotherapy, and the mysteries of the mother-daughter relationship- a rare gift! Hers is a book that might well change your life.”

— Ron Taffel, PhD, author of Breaking Through to Teens

“The Girl in the Red Boots is a treasure. Judy Rabinor is a gifted storyteller and an expert clinician. The book sings with personal growth, cross-generational love, and contagious hope.”

— Michael P. Levine, PhD, fellow at Academy of Eating Disorders, Professor Emeritus, Kenyon College, and author of The Prevention of Eating Problems and Eating Disorders

“A poignant and unique mother-daughter story full of revelation. As she helps her patients to heal, this talented writer and therapist heals herself and gives us the ability to do the same.”

―Deborah Burns, author of Saturday’s Child

“This is an introspective work . . . a fascinating examination of how daughters make peace with their moms.”

―Kirkus Reviews

“In this engaging book, Rabinor reflects on the most complex, intense and...

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Featured Reviews

Dr. Judith Rabinor is well-known and respected in both the fields of eating disorders and family therapy, In this new book, she ties together her decades of practice and her own life experiences. It is very well written and includes guided imagery along with case histories that parallel her own family experiences. Extremely thought provoking and highly recommended for mothers and daughters to read and then discuss together.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. Psychotherapy is always interesting to me so this book was really up my alley. The author writes of her own experiences with her mother as well as some of her therapy clients' relationship with their own mother. Part of this book had to do with anorexia and bulimia,which added a whole new layer of issues within the mother-daugher relationship. This memoir is very well written.

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The mother daughter relationship is the most complicated one out there and therapist, Judith Ruskay Rabinor, PhD has made it her professional mission to work with these dynamics. During a mother daughter workshop that she is conducting, Rabinor has a flashback of a childhood trauma, leading her to move forward and heal from her own complicated mother-daughter history. As a fellow therapist, working in the same field as Judith Rabinor I enjoyed the duality of the client sessions she shares, as she herself is working through similar issues with her mother. Ultimately this is a book about grief, resilience, love and healing that I thoroughly enjoyed. Dr, Rabinor's knowledge of the topic, her vulnerability in telling her own healing story, and sharing techniques she uses in therapy sessions, made it an overall satisfying read. Thank you to NetGalley and She Writes Press for this ARC!

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The Girl in the Red Boots is a touching, honest look at a woman's relationship with her mother as well as a self-help book for those of us who are daughters struggling with our mothers. It's so easy to write our parents off as bad parents without really understanding the complexity of them as real people beyond being parents, and Judith Ruskay Rabinor does a lovely job of making that point. She takes us through her personal and professional journey, using stories and lessons that she's learned from her clients. I deeply appreciate what she had to say with this book, and as someone with a complicated relationship with my mom, I'm hoping that I can enact some of the activities named and find some peace for myself.

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