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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mothers in YA Books

I wanted to do a post in honor of Mother's Day.

I decided I'd pick my favorite tween/teen books about dear old mom.

Because I never remember book titles without my handy dandy Goodreads app or access to a library catalog, I decided to sit at my desk and type the word "mother" into a keyword search of titles in my school's library.

Ha! That was funny. I should have known better. And I tell my students never to do something like that, so not sure what I was thinking.

Browsing through the 3 million results (okay, not really...but close), I realized that most books for this age group have mothers that fall into one of the following categories:

1) Dead
2) Dying
3) Abusive/Evil
4) Mentally ill
5) Mad-scientist crazy and/or made a deal with the devil
6) Neglectful/absent/abandoned the family to pursue her dreams

...and so on. Because, quite honestly, it makes for a good story to have to overcome bad parenting. I could give you a list of my favorite books for each of the aforementioned categories, but it would be kind of depressing.

So, instead, I thought that I'd list just a few titles with "good" moms that have stuck in my memory. Feel free to add titles that I have surely missed!

In no particular order: (and you will have to determine if these books are appropriate for you or not)

1) The Fault in our Stars by John Green. You're right, the book is not about the mom. And while I've been in Hazel's shoes and not the mom's, I applaud the mom for letting Hazel travel to Amsterdam (spoiler alert), far away from her doctors. What a tough decision to make, but such an important one. I was so glad that I had people in my life who understood when I made these "You Only Live Once" decisions.

2) Divergent by Veronica Roth. Tris' mom may be Abnegation, but she's one tough cookie when it comes to defending her kids!

3) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. A quietly strong mom in a difficult circumstance. FYI: BEAUTIFUL book. BEAUTIFUL!

4) If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Okay, the mom is dead for most of the book (spoiler alert). But through flashbacks I think that we discover she was a pretty cool mom.

5) The Indigo Notebook series by Laura Resau. You might not actually think the mom is responsible, and the teen daughter surely doesn't for much of the book. But I applaud the free-spirit attitude and am jealous of the lifestyle. And it's possible this mom really isn't so bad after all. 


6) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Not my favorite book of the author's (that would be The Scorpio Races), but at the heart of this, the mom is a pretty interesting character.

7) Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer. LOVE everything about it!

8) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. We all deal with life in our own way. But it takes a pretty strong mom to admit that she's made mistakes. Haven't we all.

9) Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz. Best mom (well, parents) ever. LOVE this family.

10) Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Seriously, how could you not love Maggie Weasley?! Maybe she's the best mom ever.

11) A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson. This is actually a collection of poems about the murder of Emmett Till, but two of them are about his mother, who became a tireless advocate for civil rights after his death.

12) Migrant Mother by Don Nardo is actually about the photograph taken by Dorothea Lange during the Depression. But there really isn't a more iconic image of motherhood in this country, so you should probably know the full story.

Happy reading! And Happy Mother's Day!

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