Since the calendar turned to the month of May, I’ve found myself reading novels where mothers are the key characters and motherhood the main theme. My current read is Two Little Girls in Blue, a suspense novel by legendary author Mary Higgins Clark, a story about the kidnapping of three-year-old twins Kelly and Kathy and their telepathic connection.
Clark’s story got me thinking about other books I’ve read that explore similar themes of motherhood. With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I thought I would pay special tribute to Moms with a list of books that feature mother-child relationships. All types of mothers are included on this list, including birth mothers, adopted mothers and step mothers. Most of these books I’ve read, but I’ve included a few others worth noting.
So if you’re looking to add more to your TBR list, here are a few worth a look:
Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
What would you do if you received a postcard in the mail about missing children, and one of the children on the card looks identical to your adopted son? That is the premise of this suspenseful page turner that asks the question: What would you do if you suspected that your adopted child was kidnapped from another family?
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
With clearly drawn characters and crisp writing, this was another book I couldn’t stop reading. Hannah is a new wife and stepmother to 16-year-old Bailey, who wants nothing to do with her. When Hannah’s husband Owen disappears, she receives a note from him with one simple message: “Protect her.” Hannah knows she must protect Bailey, even as she tries to unravel what has happened to her husband.
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
With the help of a psychic and a private investigator, a teenaged girl attempts to find out what happened to her mother, an elephant researcher, after a tragic accident at an animal sanctuary. Guided by her mother’s diary that documented the behavior of elephants through death and grief, the girl follows a trail of clues that lead to a very unexpected and surprising ending.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The motherhood theme plays out in several different scenarios in this moving novel by Ng. When artist and single mom Mia Warren arrives in the idyllic and carefully planned community of Shaker Heights, her disregard for the status quo upsets some area residents, particularly Elena Richardson, who is suspicious of Mia’s mysterious past. The lives of Mia and her daughter Pearl are intertwined with those of the four Richardson children. When friends of Elena want to adopt a Chinese-American infant, Mia and Elena find themselves on opposing sides of the debate. Elena becomes obsessed with ousting Mia from town with devastating results.
Lost by Joy Fielding
The first time Cindy lost her daughter Julia, her daughter was five years old. The second time was when Julia was 14 and she moved in with her father, which broke Cindy’s heart. But when Julia disappears again at age 21 after a promising audition with a Hollywood director, Cindy begins a frantic search for her. This time, the answers she finds reveals a disturbing truth about her daughter that she realized she never really knew.
Where Are The Children? by Mary Higgins Clark
One of the first novels by Clark, and probably the one that put her on the path to publishing success. Here’s another story about a mother whose two children disappear while playing in the front yard. In Clark’s signature style, the story is told from a variety of perspectives, including that of the kidnapper.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
It’s been a while since I’ve read this debut novel by Tan, which explores four mother-daughter relationships of Asian-American heritage. The story is told from alternating points of view of each mother and daughter, exploring how the attitudes and behaviors toward love and family are passed through the generations. The film was also quite good.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
It’s been a long while since I read this book by Fitch. I also remember seeing the movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer. After her mother Ingrid is charged with murder for killing her boyfriend, 12-year-old Astrid is shuffled from foster home to foster home, each time putting her in complicated situations. As Astrid struggles to define herself, she continues a rather tenuous relationship with Ingrid in prison.
The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
At times this was a difficult book to read because of the moments of violence. I give credit to Hamilton for the way she treated each of the main characters. Ruth lives at home with her mother May, who sees her daughter as a disappointment because she isn’t anything like her brilliant brother who graduated from college and works in Boston. Instead, Ruth works at a dry cleaners and falls for a Ruby, a lazy, stubborn scoundrel, who does not mix well with May. Ruby and May come to a violent clash, and only Ruth’s innate goodness and compassion allows her to have hope for her future.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity.
I love how Moriarity plays with intriguing questions and scenarios, bringing both humor and drama to her stories. In this novel, 29-year-old Alice is pregnant with her first child and is crazy in love with her husband. After falling at the gym, she wakes up in the hospital, only to learn that it is ten years later, she’s 39 with three kids, and she can’t understand why she’s in the midst of a messy divorce and why her sister won’t speak to her. As she puts the pieces of her life together, Alice figures out how to connect with her children and mend fences with her sister who has been on her own journey to become a mother.
Other books often listed with motherhood themes that are currently on my TBR list.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarity
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
What books about mothers and motherhood have left an impression on you? Which books would you recommend?