In this booklist, the focus is the many types of relationships between mothers and daughters. Historical fiction, memoirs, essays, and literary fiction are featured. While some titles discuss the joy of motherhood, grief, loss, and difficult relationships can also be found in the books below.
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One of the most powerful living authors writes about motherhood, loss, and grief in this heartbreaking and truthful memoir. Joan Didion’s daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne, dies after complications from the flu and pneumonia. In this compelling and poignant book, Didion’s signature frankness about the loss of her daughter and her own aging will leave readers considering their own relationships.
Thandi lives in Pennsylvania with her white father and South African mother. Her mother’s life in Johannesburg seems impossibly distant, but is something Thandi can’t overlook. When her mother dies from cancer, Thandi must grapple with the parts of herself she doesn’t quite understand. In this phenomenal debut novel, Clemmons writes about race, family, and country in haunting prose.
In this candid and insightful memoir, Nicole Chung tells the story of her search for her parents and the birth of her own child. Chung was born prematurely and placed for adoption by her Korean parents, then raised in a white family in Oregon. While growing up and facing prejudice her adopted family could not understand, Chung begins to question the narrative she was told throughout childhood. In her search for the truth, Ching uncovers family secrets and faces their repercussions.
Lucy Barton is recovering from what should have been a simple surgery when her mother comes to visit. This unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront the difficulties of her relationship with her mother and her childhood. Elizabeth Strout writes a beautifully complex novel based on the premise of a single hospital visit.
This powerful novel opens with a scene in 2001, the evening of Melody’s coming-of-age ceremony. Melody descends the staircase to the music of Prince in a custom dress surrounded by family. The same dress was made for her mother sixteen years prior and has never been worn. Through the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents, a story of identity, desire, ambition, gentrification, class, and race unfolds. Although this book is less than 200 pages, it is full of life.
Li-yan and her family’s whole world revolves around the seasons and farming tea, as it has for generations. When an unexpected visitor appears in their remote Chinese village, Li-yan and her home will never be the same. Decades later, California girl Haley wonders about her birth parents. In a story of motherhood, tradition, and fighting against the norm, Lisa See paints a portrait of a remote Yunnan village and its people, the Akha.
When Natasha Trethewey was 19, her world was shattered when her stepfather shot and killed her mother. Through her pain and loss, Trethewey writes the history of her mother in the deeply segregated south, and her own childhood in Mississippi. Trethewey’s poetic language explores grief, loss, and pain in this stunning memoir.
Happy Mother’s Day from the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library!
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