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There’s nothing like the relationship between mother and child. From your first best friend to the one who’s been there for you since day one, the women who’ve raised us will always occupy a large part of our hearts. And with such a significant holiday as Mother’s Day fast approaching, we’re thinking of unique ways to celebrate these special women.
There are so many stories about the joys, pressures, and experiences mothers endure. From startling thrills to moving, reflective moments, some of the best new books out there chronicle these experiences with such a thoughtful approach. Books like Christine Kandic Torres’ The Girls in Queens and Rebecca Serle’s One Italian Summer feature mother-child relationships in ways we’ve never read before. These and more must-have stories are featured in this round-up — and we’re sure you’ll want to add a few of these novels to your own bookshelf. Is your mother a hard one to shop for? If so, check out these stories featuring mother-child relationships that will make the perfect Mother’s Day gifts!
‘The Wedding Veil’ by Kristy Woodson Harvey
New York Times bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey does not disappoint in her first foray into historical contemporary fiction, a dual plot line novel inspired by Edith Vanderbilt’s missing wedding veil. As Julia Baxter prepares for her present day wedding holding onto her veil, a family heirloom that has come to symbolize a happy marriage, panic sets in. Meanwhile, her grieving grandmother, Babs, decides to move into a retirement community, only to run into an old flame that brings up complicated emotions. Back in 1914, socialite Edith Vanderbilt mourns the loss of her husband while struggling to manage her family’s deteriorating estate so her daughter Cornelia can inherit it. Yet Cornelia’s dreams lead her to wonder what life would be like separate from the Biltmore legacy of Asheville, NC. A sweeping story about grappling with some of life’s major decisions and forging one’s own path.
‘The Walled Garden’ by Robin Farrar Maass
American grad student Lucy Silver arrives in England to finish her dissertation about the famed poet and garden afficionado Elizabeth Blackspear, a friend of Lucy’s grandmother. Lucy soon discovers a hidden code in their correspondences, unveiling family secrets shared in their unique language of flowers. Realizing she’s onto something, Lucy finally has her chance to solve the mystery when an English aristocrat with a connection to Blackspear allows Lucy to access a walled garden on his estate that may hold clues, but her search is stalled when the director of the historic Blackspear Gardens’ tries to block her from accessing vital archives. Amid her search, Lucy stumbles upon an illicit plot to turn the historic gardens into a theme park, and her mission shifts: she must put a stop to it. The Walled Garden is the perfect mix of romance, bookish mystery, and cozy cottagecore.
‘Hope, a History of the Future’ by G.G. Kellner
In 2037, Joyce Denzell finds a book in the middle of the floor in the middle of her home library with a copyright page saying it is published in the year 2200. With the help of the family cat, Plato, each family member of the Denzell family begins to read from this mysterious book, learning more about the lives of Gabe, Mia, and Ruth in a multi-genre story that they all connect with. As the Denzell family becomes enthralled in this story, they all begin to wonder if this book may actually be from the future and that each one of them will learn something from this story. Kellner’s debut is a truly unique, philosophical cli-fi dream of what could happen with our earth if we save it. Filled with magic and fantasy but based in science, Hope is an adventure you’ll feel extra connected to.
‘Carry Me: Stories of Pregnancy Loss’ by Frieda Hoffman
Pregnancy loss can be one of the most difficult and isolating parts of the journey to motherhood. After Frieda Hoffman experienced her second miscarriage, she felt overwhelmed and alone. With little to no resources for support or literature, Frieda decided to build the resource she wished she had. In her tender and highly accessible debut, Hoffman shares a broad range of narratives about grief, womanhood, and body politics, woven together by Hoffman’s own grief and healing journey. Topics include the jarring bedside manner of medical professionals during miscarriage diagnoses, the financial burden of loss, and how shame and silence begets shame and silence. This is a powerful and invaluable resource helping to normalize the dialogue around pregnancy loss.
‘One Italian Summer’ by Rebecca Serle
Katy’s mother and best friend Carol pass away unexpectedly right before their highly anticipated mother-daughter trip to Positano, the small town where Carol spent the summer prior to meeting Katy’s father. When Katy decides to go on the trip herself, it seems healing and her mother’s spirit seems to be with her wherever she goes. That is, until Katy runs into Carol…Carol at age 30 and in the flesh. Confused and bewildered, Katy begins a friendship with this younger version of her mother, getting to know the woman she was before marriage and motherhood. Over the course of one summer, Katy must learn to separate the mother who knew it all with the woman who is still learning it all. A magical and heartwarming novel about healing after loss.
‘The Shadow House’ by Anna Downes
If your mom is more of a psychological thriller lover, Anna Downes delivers a haunting tale about a mother’s instincts. Alex, a single mother of two desperate to protect her children at any cost, is on the run from her past and looking for a fresh start in Pine Ridge – a small ecovillage in the Australian countryside full of lush forests and seemingly friendly faces. But following a chain of disturbing and eerie events, Alex begins to wonder if there’s something more sinister at the heart of Pine Ridge, or her newfound home. Fearing for her family’s safety, Alex begins to wonder if they’ve landed in more danger than the past she’s been running from.
‘A Week of Warm Weather’ by Lee Bukowski
Tessa Cordelia’s beautiful life—a successful husband, a beautiful new baby, a house in the suburbs—is starting to crack. When she discovers her husband’s addiction, it dredges up Tessa’s past abandonment trauma back to haunt her as he tries to manipulate her into silence, arguing that exposure would ruin them. Stuck at a crossroads between keeping his secrets or exposing them, Tessa decides to lie to everyone for the sake of her family’s happiness. Everyone except for a woman named CeCe, that is. And Tessa is about to learn after confiding in CeCe that her newfound friend has a blistering secret of her own. In this gripping, authentic exploration of how addiction can shatter a family, one woman with the appearance of a perfect life must realize how much she is willing to lose in order to find herself.
‘What We Give, What We Take’ by Randi Triant
After hearing Walter Winchell’s historic 1954 radio program in which he told the nation that the vaccine may kill children, Fay Stonewall decides against vaccinating her young son Dickie, who soon contracts polio, leaving his legs impaired and Fay with an all-consuming guilt. In the late 1960s, Fay abandons teenage Dickie to entertain troops stationed in Vietnam with a traveling carnival show, doing a water tank escape act in the hopes of improving her finances to help Dickie but finding herself instead trapped by her poor choices. Meanwhile back in the States, Dickie must find his own escape from Fay’s abusive boyfriend, ultimately traveling to Manhattan and Massachusetts as he grapples with his criminal past, his mother’s abandonment, and who he can become. Triant’s latest is a powerful and gritty story about a turbulent mother and son relationship written in stunning prose, perfect for fans of Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.
‘The Women Could Fly’ by Megan Giddings
Fourteen years ago, Josephine’s mother disappeared, leaving everyone with their own theory about what happened, from kidnapping and murder to starting a new family to being a witch. The last is the most worrisome notion, especially for a Black woman living in a world where witches are real and put on trial. Now, grown at 28, Josephine is ready to forget about the mystery of her mother and become her own person just as the state introduces a chilling mandate that all women must wed by age 30 or forgeit their autonomy by enrolling in a registry to be monitored. Suddenly, she begins to understand what may have driven her mother’s past actions. Gidding’s latest is a biting dystopian novel about the limits placed on women’s bodies and the power they have to break them.
‘The Girls In Queens’ by Christine Kandic Torres
In this coming-of-age story set in Queens, Brisma and Kelly are two fiercely loyal Latinx best friends just entering high school. Quiet wallflower Brisma soon falls for Brian, a popular athlete, surprised and delighted by his attention. Years later, Brisma and Kelly haven’t spoken to Brian after a party gone wrong. When their beloved Mets are set to got to the playoffs, the three old friends are reunited as adults and Brisma finds herself once again drawn to Brian. But when he is accused of sexual assault, these lifelong friends find themselves on opposite sides as Kelly is there to defend him while Brisma thinks back on their relationship, bringing forth old memories that cast doubts. Kelly and Brisma soon must face off in this poignant debut about the complications of sexual abuse allegations and staunch loyalties.
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