There’s no question that mother-daughter relationships are all sorts of complicated. With the release of the movie, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we wanted to look at some of our favorite books that focus on moms and daughters. While the relationships aren’t always perfect, the one constant is unwavering love.
Fortune’s Daughter by Alice Hoffman
Fortune’s Daughter is about a mother who’s lost a daughter and a daughter who’s lost a mother and how they can, maybe for a moment, stand in for one another. Despite the collective sadness embodied by both women, there is still resilience, magic and hope. While these characters are as flawed as they come, they each see the beauty and importance in one another in the same way mothers see their children and vice versa.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beloved is much more than a story about slavery, oppression and struggle. It carries within its pages hope and perseverance, the resilience of the human spirit and love so great that it provokes one to do the unthinkable because there are no other options at the time. Despite the tragedy within the story of Sethe and her children, love always endures.
Her Mother’s Daughter by Marilyn French
Her Mother’s Daughter follows the lives and miseries of four Polish-Americans as they assimilate to life in New York. The novel touches on hot-button topics like sexism, allowing the reader to look back at the time this story takes place to see how far we have come. It also makes us question whether cycles can ever be broken and if the difficulty to express love is a cultural issue or something learned.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Amy Tan’s wildly successful novel, The Joy Luck Club, is about the often-complex relations between mothers and daughters and gives readers a glimpse into the culture of Chinese-Americans. The mothers in the JLC have secrets, a hidden pain or shame that they never speak of, in order to protect their daughters. The revelation of those stories and secrets is beautiful and heartbreaking at times, but that’s par for the course with families, right?
Highwire Moon by Susan Straight
Our current political climate makes this book even more impactful. Highwire Moon follows a young immigrant girl working hard to build a life for herself in California. When Serafina is sent back to Mexico, she is not permitted to take her three-year-old daughter, Elvia. After 12 years of being shuttled through the foster care system and reclaimed by her father, Elvia – now 15 and pregnant – attempts to find her mother just as Serafina is making her way back to her. Straight paints a beautiful portrait of the mother-daughter bond.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
After a routine surgery that leaves Lucy Barton bedridden and recovering, her estranged mother comes to visit. Throughout the course of five days, the women chat about things that don’t really matter, which is what Lucy’s mom does best. As the trivial conversation carries on, we learn how Lucy has come to withdraw from her mom and that there are many ways to love someone in your family.
A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That by Lisa Glatt
When college instructor Rachel Spark returns home after her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, she finds solace by seeking out one man to the next. Rachel’s adult student, Ella Bloom, has plans for bigger things in life, but she is consumed by the fact that her husband was caught in a comprising situation with one of her colleagues. As we read about these women, their common desire for love becomes apparent. Themes of lust, forgiveness, courage and devotion are explored in this provocative and compassionate novel.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
What’s a girl to do when her mother mysteriously disappears before their family trip to Antarctica? Piece anything she can together to figure out where she went, of course. Bee gathers up all she can to track down her mother’s location and get to the heart of why Bernadette, an incredibly successful woman and loving mother, would just disappear. Semple’s satirical writing makes this book feel like a warm blanket on a cold night.
Rosie by Anne Lamott
While Elizabeth may not be the perfect mother, she has created a space where the sun rises and sets with her daughter Rosie. They are both living a life of luxury and abundance, but Elizabeth wants to shield Rosie from all the pains that have afflicted her throughout the years. Will they grow up together or drift apart?