In Yasna's family, violence is an heirloom passed down from generation to generation along with the richness of tradition, recipes, love and land.
After the German invasion of World War II, supported by Serbian Chetniks, has massacred Bosniaks in the Balkans, leaving damaged homes, bodies and hearts in its wake, Samira’s marriage is arranged for her, and she leaves her childhood home with her new husband, Azis.
Samira struggles to retain her identity and dignity in her marriage with Azis, a bitterly angry man with dark secrets that have consequences for everyone around him. When Samira realises her son, Muhammed, will always be the target of Azis’s anger and aggression, she makes the painful decision to evict him from the house to save his life.
Muhammed joins Anika and her family, who are fleeing the oppression of Tito’s Communist Jugoslavia across the Austrian border. The pair immigrates to Australia where they face a new oppression in the guise of racism. But Anika faces an even greater danger in simply trying to survive her husband’s beatings and emotional torment.
Depressed and desperately needing help, Anika attempts to take her own life on several occasions, trapping her daughter, Yasna, into the premature responsibilities of adulthood.
Unable to shake the emotional and psychological shadow of its past, the family struggles to find new ways to love and respect each other’s differences, but religious conflicts and another Balkan war have devastating consequences on their fragile domestic peace.
Not Like My Mother is a poignant story about the patterns of violence and lost identity passed down through generations. Tracking the pain and anguish of three women and their families over two continents, as well as the divide between three religions that have torn apart a country and its people. The novel exposes and explores the links between cultural and personal histories of conflict.