The mother-daughter relationship can be so very wonderful yet also extremely complex. There is no greater love than that of a mother, and these books we’ve hand-picked encompass all the emotions of a mother-daughter relationship. Covering love, loss, jealousy and all the emotions in between, these are our top picks for mother-daughter relationship books.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
The Joy Luck Club is made up of four Chinese women who immigrated to San Francisco around the same time. They meet frequently, trying to keep their Chinese culture and traditions alive. Each of the four women has a daughter, and as the years pass, each mother tries to pass on their culture and traditions. But these women have secrets too, and as each one is slowly revealed, the ties between all the characters become tangled together. With wit and sensitivity, this novel explores the painful and tender connection between mothers and daughters.
Summer Island by Kristin Hannah
Ruby’s mother, Nora Bridge, abandoned her and her father years ago. Nora is now a famous radio talk-show host who gives out moral advice while Ruby is a struggling comedian whose cynical humor is fueled by her estranged mother. When Nora is injured in an accident, a magazine offers Ruby a fortune to write a tell-all about her mother. Under false pretenses, Ruby returns to Summer Island and the house she grew up in to take care of her mother. As Ruby writes, the expose turns into an exploration of her family’s past, and she starts to realize Nora isn’t what Ruby expected.
Mother in the Dark by Kayla Maiuri
Anna’s childhood was unconventional. Her and her sister spent their time watching their loving mother bounce from tenderness to bitterness and back again, always waiting for her unpredictable nature to show. Years later, Anna gets an urgent call from her sister about their mother that risks destroying the life she has precariously built for herself in New York. Told in an alternating timeline from Anna’s childhood and her twenties, this novel examines an unstable childhood and the generational trauma betweeen mothers and daughters.
Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi
Tara was wild in her youth. She joined an ashram, spent time as a beggar, and spent years chasing a homeless artist. She did all of this with little Antara by her side. Now, Tara is starting to forget, and Antara is a grown adult who is married and has made a career for herself as an artist. She’s forced to take care of a woman who never cared for her and make peace with her haunting past.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm, the twelve main characters in this novel lead vastly different lives. Two of these characters are Carole and Bummi, a mother-daughter duo with different ideas about life. Each character connects somehow with shared aspects of their identities, such as age, race, sexuality, or class. This witty and emotional novel about modern Britain and womanhood is filled with struggles, pains, love, and hope.
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Jenna’s mother Alice mysteriously disappeared in the midst of a tragic accident. More than a decade later, Jenna continues to search for her mother or clues about her whereabouts. She enlists the help of a psychic known for finding missing persons, and a jaded detective who worked on Alice’s case years ago. As the three of them ask hard questions, they realize they’ll have even harder answers. As Jenna’s memories collide with Alice’s own accounts in her journals, the story races for a captivating end.
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
Thandi grew up feeling stuck between black and white, American or not, and never felt like she truly belonged anywhere. In this novel, Thandi watches her mother fade away due to cancer, until she ultimately loses her. She feels unmoored and has to learn how to live without the woman who shaped her, especially as Thandi faces unexpected motherhood. This story explores love, loss, identity, and the ties between a mother and daughter.
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
When Kate gets a call at work that her daughter Amelia has been suspended for cheating, she panics and leaves work, only to arrive at the school to find a tragedy. Amelia has jumped to her death, according to officials. While it’s hard for Kate to believe this, she is overcome by guilt and grief over the loss. But when Kate receives an anonymous text insisting Amelia didn’t jump, she sets out to find the truth to vindicate her daughter’s memory.
Even If Your Heart Would Listen: Losing My Daughter to Heroin by Elise Schiller
Elise Schiller’s life was forever changed when she lost her daughter to a heroin overdose in 2014. Having passed away while residing at a treatment program in Colorado, Elise quickly began questioning the American substance-abuse treatment system that failed her daughter – her daughter was unsuccessful through more than five programs, making it evident that there is a bigger problem at hand. Even If Your Heart Would Listen tells the true story of one mother and her commitment to her daughter, proving that no matter what happens, the bond between mother and daughter is unbreakable.
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
When Bee’s beloved mother Bernadette disappears, the family will find themselves in a crisis that is at both turns hilarious and dramatic. Bee had been promised a trip to Antarctica for acing her classes, but Bernadette, a severe agoraphobic, can’t handle the idea of a trip so far away so she disappears. It’s up to Bee to find her mother, and she will enlist the help of official documents, emails and other correspondence to do whatever it takes to get her mom back.
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
When Sophie is sent from Haiti to New York to reunite with her estranged mother, she discovers secrets that no 12-year-old should know. The only way for her to heal is to return to Haiti to the women who raised her. Edwidge Danticat’s literary debut is the unforgettable story of grace, strength and heartache.
Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
Ashley Keller is a hot-mess mom trying to be perfect but not doing such a great job. With the opportunity to sign up for Motherhood Better boot camp, she thinks she will become the perfect mom she’s always hoped to be. This hilarious novel from the creator of The Honest Toddler takes a look at the pressures society puts on mothers and offers the idea that moms don’t have to be perfect to be great.
The Daughter by Lucy Dawson
Seventeen years ago, Jess lost her daughter Beth due to a momentary lapse in judgment. While she has tried to move on, she knows she was to blame, and that she’s expected to endure a lifetime of guilt for what happened. When Jess moves away with her new family, the past will follow her. She fears the secret she has kept for so long will have devastating consequences. A great book for moms who love psychological thrillers, this one will have your heart racing.
Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou
Mom & Me & Mom is the personal story of Maya Angelou’s relationship with her mom. When Maya was three years old, her mother sent her and her brother to live with their grandmother. Maya shares the story of how, a decade later, she and “Lady,” as she calls her mother, are reunited and how they learn to find the balance of love and respect the two need to create a lasting relationship.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Astrid idolizes her beautiful and brilliant mother, but when Ingrid murders a lover and is sentenced to prison, Astrid’s life changes. She is sent to the foster care system where she finds herself living in challenging situations, learning new rules at each home. Overcoming her challenges, Astrid’s determination to learn to live motherless is an inspirational story – so inspiring, that Oprah Winfrey chose White Oleander as a book club pick and narrated the audio release.
No More Perfect Moms: Learn to Love Your Real Life by Jill Savage
Author Jill Savage helps moms to realize that the struggle is real and that they are not alone in this honest parenting book. No More Perfect Moms will help moms create and achieve their realistic hopes, discover beauty and find freedom to learn to love their imperfectly perfect lives.