Mom's Day Memoirs
A trio of great books for gift giving, humor, and greater understanding
Mother's Day is on the horizon, and after some recent excellent reading, we feel the need to recommend some good books for gift giving. However, we have done this many times in the past, and don't want to be too repetitive.
So instead, today we review some new books about motherhood that perhaps everyone should read in preparation for honoring - and remembering what it's like to be - mothers.
All of these titles would make great gifts for the mothers in your life - they feature edgy, introspective, smart, honest, and fun writing. And, if you are still looking for more ideas for gifts, you can find some great titles in all our past reviews, including the ones where we tried to cultivate a specific list for mom's day gifts.
Happy Mother's Day to all!
Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words by Kimberly Harrington (2018) - This collection of essays features a distinctive voice (one that is often seen in The New Yorker, and McSweeney's) that applies humor, tears, cursing, love, and unique insight to almost every aspect of motherhood/life: a failed pregnancy, relocating across the country, a request to end "mommy wars" steeped with insight from both sides, grandparents/Florida, to do lists, meal-train etiquette, participation trophies, parenting experts, plane rides with kids, and partners. You will grin throughout this collection, as each essay is graced with humor and humility. You will tear-up a bit reading many of the essays as some are poignant and unsparing (e.g., a retelling of a failed pregnancy, and/or a story of a fight over divorcing - they didn't - that uses FB "likes" to score points). Quick note: we found this book because one of its chapters was a recent Op-Ed in The New York Times.
My new short-term goal - to meet this author. Since we are both Vermonters, achieving it may be as simple as just driving the state asking who knows her; eventually, with this method, I will find her. So be forewarned Ms. Harrington, I may exhibit stalker like tendencies soon. But more likely, I will merely ask the fabulous booksellers at the Norwich Bookstore to let Ms. Harrington know she has a new fan. ~ Lisa Christie
And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O'Connell (2018) - The catchy title of this new memoir immediately begs the question: "But is anyone ever ready for motherhood?" O'Connell initially thinks that she is, though her positive pregnancy test does come as a surprise to her and her fiance. With this book, she bravely charts her physical and emotional journey from single New York career woman-writer to the end of her first year with a toddler. Nothing is off limits: her pregnancy anxieties, a difficult labor, her maternal ambivalence, sex (or lack thereof) after delivery, "to daycare or not to daycare?", or finding new, true mommy friends. In a nutshell, O'Connell describes the wonder-filled but very rocky road to becoming a family of three in a timeless yet contemporary way. Even as a mother with adult children, I fully related to her emotions - the raw, honest way that she writes made my own experiences feel close and fresh again. I even found a tear of recognition rolling down my cheek in her final chapter. As soon as I finished, I ran out and purchased a copy for a friend who is newly pregnant. It is the perfect gift for new mothers.
We found our way to this book because it was featured in an excellent New York Times piece about recent books about motherhood. ~ Lisa Cadow
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel (2012) - One of us read this graphic novel years ago when it first published; one of us is in the midst of it now. Thus, neither of us can review it in detail today. However, it immediately sprang to mind when we thought about this post. So, for today's review, we will use the words of Jonathan Safran Froer, author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything is Illuminated, "Are You My Mother is a work of the most humane kind of genius, bravely going right to the heart of things: why we are who we are. It's also incredibly funny. And visually stunning. And page-turningly addictive. And heartbreaking." We both found our way to this book because we are huge fans of Ms. Bechdel (note: a fellow Vermonter).
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