For those of you who’ve forgotten, Mother’s Day is May 8! We’ll give you a minute to scramble for your phones for the obligatory call and last-minute gift planning. (All done? Awesome!)
For everyone else who has already labored over the perfect gift, dinner plans, heart-warming card, or floral arrangement, here’s a list of Mother’s Day reads about amazing moms and the lives they lead to warm your heart, make you laugh—and if you’re a big ol’ ball of emotion like us—make you cry.
The Mother: A Novel, by Pearl S. Buck
This is the story of a peasant woman in pre-revolution China whose restless husband abandons her. But instead of letting this destroy her, she begins sending herself letters, signed with her husband’s name, letting her neighbors believe he is simply traveling. Despite the poverty that surrounds her, and the web of lies she’s tangled herself in, she refuses to crumble, working instead to support and protect her family. An unbelievable tale of a woman’s strength and the depth of motherhood, Buck’s novel will give you misty-eyed mom-feels.
Mother’s Choice, by Elizabeth Mansfield
In this fun regency romance, a mother finds her daughter about to unwittingly follow in her own unwise footsteps as she’s being courted by an older gentleman. The mother, a widow from her own older husband, refuses to let her daughter make the same mistake and marry an older man, leaving her in an unhappy marriage. But when she goes to break the cycle, the mother slips, hits her head, and ends up with amnesia. How can she protect her daughter from a mistake she can’t remember making?
A Woman of Uncertain Character: The Amorous and Radical Adventures of My Mother Jennie (Who Always Wanted to be a Respectable Jewish Mom) by her Bastard Son, by Clancy Sigal
This memoir about a mother and son gives you a look into a non-traditional family. Sigal tells the story of his mother, a feverishly brave, sexually open, and complex woman, who fought for justice and organized sweatshop unions on the mean streets of Chicago in the 30s and 40s. This memoir is unsentimental, intelligent, and as brazen as the woman it depicts.
The Diary, by Eileen Goudge
Full of mysteries of romantic love and the unassailable bond between parents and children, The Diary begins with Emily and Sarah Marshall cleaning out their dying mother’s attic. But as they’re cleaning, they find their mother’s old diary and secrets about her childhood friend and the man she loved, who may or may not have started a neighborhood fire. Realizing that their mother loved a man who wasn’t their father, the Marshall sisters come to realize more about their mother, their father, and themselves, with a surprise ending that will leave you reeling.
Her Mother’s Daughter: A Novel, by Marilyn French
Sisters, daughters, mothers, wives—this life-affirming saga celebrates the ties between mothers and daughters. Shifting persepectives between Bella Dabrowski, the daughter of Polish immigrants, and her daughter Stacey Stevens, the reader is drawn into Belle’s life through the Depression, Stacey’s youthful marriage … and affair. Taking the reader through these generations, into Stacey’s own tempestuous relationship with her daughter Arden, Her Mother’s Daughter explores the complex, indestructible bonds between daughters and mothers.
Consenting Adult, by Laura Z. Hobson
Surprisingly relevant today, Consenting Adult is the story of Tessa, a 1960s mother who is forced to realize that even though she considers herself independent, liberated, and progressive, she is still traditional in many ways. When she receives a letter from her youngest son Jeff, who comes out to her as gay, she is distraught. Though society says that her son is mentally ill, Tessa struggles with how to be a good parent to her son, how to protect him from society’s prejudices. Elegant and subtly drawn, this is a stunning tribute to familial bonds, and a sympathetic portrait of a mother whose best intentions are often clouded by the stereotypes of her time.
Now You Know: A Novel, by Susan Kelly
In September of 1947, Libba Charles and Frances Simpson meet. Libba, brassily Yankee and free-spirited, and Frances, a near perfect, modest, young Southern flower, are roommates, and create a friendship that last forty-six years. But their friendship ends with a promise from Frances’ daughters, Alice, Allegra, and Edie. “Look after Libba,” Frances tells her daughters on her deathbed. But these three women, a housemaker, a recovering alcoholic, and a commitment-adverse bohemian don’t understand why their mother wanted them to look after the literary celebrity. But when they are summoned to their mother’s summer hideaway by Libba, they will make discoveries about their mother, Libba, and themselves that they weren’t prepared for.
Photo: simpleinsomnia / Flickr