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Call Your Mother!

May 06, 2021

Every mother is unique. And every mother has a unique story, as my Mother’s Day booklist below can attest. This is a list of some of my favorite (and most compelling) books about mothers and motherhood. In these books, you'll find all kinds of mothers in all walks of life; there are biological mothers and self-assigned mothers; there are mothers from all over the world; mothers from different eras; mothers from different social-economic circumstances; and they all struggle with self-identity.

The one thing common to every story is the messiness, complexity, and difficulty of motherhood.

I found it interesting that most adult (not all) books about mothers are emotionally fraught with heartbreak, sacrifice, and depression. Whereas children’s books about mothers are all gooey and sweet and perfection, all the ways we want our children to view us. And in that lies the cognitive dissonance. Because what we want others to see and feel is NOT the way real life is.

But when it’s all said and done, and your children are grown and flown the nest, mothers have a chance to redeem themselves and become all gooey and sweet and perfect with their children’s children. (The thing that makes grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is they have a common enemy.)

Buy yourself and your mum a book and then schedule a time to discuss it. While you’re at it, tell her you’re sorry for the shade you threw and the hate you gave. Tell her you love her and you’re grateful for her sacrifices on your behalf.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? By Maria Semple

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

A shout-out to my mum, who left me far too early and when I still needed her advice and guidance. It was my mum who introduced me to the wonder of books, to the galaxy of worlds that books will take you to, to the heights and depths of emotions you’ll experience, and to the life lessons that can be learned without having to leave home. Thanks, mum! I love the legacy of reading that you left with me—words, books, and reading have become my livelihood and, more importantly, helped to fill the gaping hole in my heart when you shuffled off this mortal coil.

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