Books for Mothers and Daughters

Short Take, 2 min read

Mother’s Day

Book recs, ages 9 to 99

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST CLICK HERE

It’s a gray day full of drizzle in Connecticut though it’s not as cold as it has been. The yellow lilies in the porch planters are in full bloom and they remind me of my mother, because she and I went to buy them together. Then, she helped plant them.

Mother’s Day is a singular possessive. That means it is for your mother, not all mothers. You call your mom, send her flowers, thank her for raising you. And a few other things. My mom is in her 80s in years and weight. Maybe she’s ninety some pounds with her clothes and shoes on.

I stopped by her place to check in. Life has been busy with work and my high school senior, so I send Email and photos, usually daily to make sure all is well. She remarks on my hair style in the photos and my clothing; she wants me to get my hair done right. Have I eaten breakfast? No I hadn’t. Here, have two soft boiled eggs. No I tell her. And on, until I eat the eggs.

My mom loves to garden and I’m eating the TJ’s chocolate (for Trader Joe’s, her favorite store because of the flowers) she brought me. She drops off chicken stew this week, insisting it is not too sweet and has lots of mushrooms, which my daughter loves. There’s a theme here about food, sustenance, life.

I scan the shelves for notable mother – daughter books. It’s sad but I don’t have many or they’re not something I’d want to read around Mother’s Day. Maybe the only stories worth the ink are written by grown children of dysfunctional families. Or the happy and comforting stories were the purview of childhood, as the board books below suggest.

Maybe daughters don’t understand mothers until it’s too late. I don’t mean to focus on happy mother-daughter books, because where’s the story in that? Conflict is story.

Here’s the result of an informal poll I took via text chat which includes a child psychologist, a business woman, a doctor, a writer, and an army officer, in no particular order.

  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, click the book link for FREE download. This is a childhood favorite of mine. Anne is adopted but I found Marilla Cuthbert a compelling mother figure.
  • Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. You’ll like this. I did not read the book, but the movie struck a chord. My mother got up in the early scenes and left the room.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, click the book link for FREE download
  • Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (author) and Anita Jeram (Illustrator), BOARD book
  • I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (author) and Sheila McGraw (illustrator), BOARD book
  • Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss, fun in second person to address reader and often given at graduation

I skimmed lists online about moms and daughters, then ordered Elizabeth Strout’s book, My Name is Lucy Barton. The critic found it an an unforgettable book about the complex and compelling bonds between mothers and daughters. I took the sneak peek inside and liked the first page.

I’m not sure the answers are in books. Books help me navigate the world and I often get to hang out with someone I admire. If you’re like me, I try to find writers who have lived and done and have something worth saying.

As for my mother, I’m taking her to her favorite restaurant on Sunday. I happen to like the food, so it works out for me. My mother was born in Vietnam and loves to cook and garden. We’re very different but we both love to eat.

May 6, 2022

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About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

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