Thursday, April 12, 2018

On books about realistic moms

Moms are often given a bad rap in books - especially YA books. The mom is mean and evil or nonexistent or (at best) can't understand their child. Books about parents of adult children are even more confusing as that relationship becomes more nuanced and distant. Here are a few books that represent moms realistically and might give some power and strength to moms out there:

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders, #1)

  • Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb - Ronica Vestrit is a mom who is trying her hardest. She's spent years managing the family business while her husband sails around trading, while still trying to raise her two daughters well. Once her husband passes, Ronica is tasked with making some tough decisions, especially regarding her daughters. She makes plenty of mistakes and has a lot of learning to do about her children, but she's willing to admit to her mistakes and to give her daughters opportunities to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons. Ronica is the kind of mom so many people have (or should have)- tough, no nonsense, and independent, but still humble enough to admit her shortcomings. Ronica's story arc throughout the series helps you (and her kids) see her as an active member of the family, not just as the mom.

Woman No. 17
  • Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki - Told from the viewpoints of a wealthy mother struggling to connect with her children and a young artist trying to emulate her own mother, this story is all about motherhood. Lady Daniels is trying to write a memoir about raising her selectively mute teenage son while struggling to connect with him and tolerate her other toddler son. Esther has just graduated from college and been hired as a nanny by the Daniels, all for the purpose of spending the summer on her most ambitious art project ever - becoming her mother for the summer to better understand the woman who helped raise her. This story tells all about motherhood and learning about yourself, with all it's complexities and difficulties.

Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and Chocolate

  • Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and Chocolate by Anne Østby - Five friends retire together to Fiji and work to support each other, especially as they all go through the growing pains of growing old. Most relateable is Sina, whose relationship with her adult son is struggling as he continues to mooch off her and she struggles to set boundaries. This story shows some of the difficulties of being a good mom while sometimes having to play the bad guy in order to help your child grow.

  • My Monster Mama Loves Me So

    • My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck - This lovely and delightful picture book helps children to identify ways that they can tell their mom loves them - and is still an adorable read for adults.

    Have you read any of these books? What realistic moms do you enjoy reading about? What books give you a positive look at parenting? What books can you relate to as a parent?


    1. This is a great idea! It sounds like a good list to revisit or add to for Mother's Day.

      1. Yeah I probably should! Or maybe books about nicer moms - a couple moms on this list are a bit problematic

    2. I haven't read any of these, but I'll keep the Robin Hobb series in mind, since I've been meaning to try them anyway.

      Books with positive portrayals of mothers are hard to find, but here are a few from MG and YA books:

      Mrs. Murray (A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels) is a good if sometimes distracted mother, who understands Meg very well and isn't threatened by Charles Wallace's brilliance or his insight/telepathy/empathy (or whatever you want to call it.)

      Marilla Cuthbert (Anne of Green Gables) doesn't start out very motherly, and she's rarely openly affectionate, but she and Anne come to love each other deeply, and she becomes Anne's mother in everything but name.

      Marmee from Little Women may be absent for much of the book (taking care of her very sick husband in Washington, DC) but when she is present, she is an excellent mother, strong and loving and determined to guide her daughters to become the best women they can be.