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11 Heart-Wrenching Books About Mothers and Motherhood

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

Summary: This novel is set during the great migration, a time when millions of African American families moved to the north to seek greater opportunities. Hattie leaves Georgia to go to Philadelphia with her mother and soon starts a family of her own. Ayana Mathis’ novel tells the story of a very young woman who does the best she can to parent her eleven children in the midst of poverty, a tumultuous marriage, and great sorrow. Each child, one of her tribe, deals with life’s hardships in their own unique way.
You’ll like this book if…you enjoy reading historical fiction that tells difficult, but real stories that speak to the core of human grit.
Get the book today on Amazon.

At the Bottom of the River by Jamaica Kincaid 

Summary: At the Bottom of the River is a collection of ten inter-connected stories that starts with a monologue of a mother’s directions to her daughter. Throughout the collection, images of the daily life of a Caribbean girl are portrayed. Throughout the girl’s journey, her mother is an ever present figure.
You’ll like this book if … you are looking for a strong female coming of age stories that explores female relationships, especially the dynamics of the mother-daughter relationship.
Get the book today on Amazon.

Daughter, A Novel by Asha Bandele

Summary:  Sometimes we become close to the ones that we love only during a tragedy. In this novel, Miriam faces the fear that she might lose her daughter because she is shot by the police in a case of mistaken identity. After, the incident she reflects on her own relationship with her mother and how that made her distant and cold to her child.
You’ll like this book if…you enjoy stories where a character goes on an emotional journey of self-reflection that leads to healing.
Get the book today on Amazon.

Know The Mother by Desiree Cooper

Summary:  Desiree Cooper pulls together a collage of stories that illustrate the complicated relationships between mothers and their children. The characters in the stories deal with gender and race bias, navigating the professional world, and their own thoughts of insufficiency. The book  beautifully portrays the message that motherhood is a beautiful experience but can be terrifying as well.
You’ll like this book if…you like flash fiction and short stories that convey deep meanings.
Get the book today on Amazon.

Ugly Ways by Tina McElroy Ansa

Summary: Mudear is gone, and her daughters must come home for the funeral and settle her affairs. As children, the sisters experienced “The Change” in Mudear when she decided to follow the beat of her own drum. Returning to their hometown, the small town of Mulberry, Georgia, the LoveJoy girls find that their domineering mothers looms large almost as much in death as she did in life.
You’ll like this book if…you enjoy an emotional family tale with ghostly leanings.
Get the book today on Amazon.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Summary: Set in the late 1800s, Sethe and her daughter Denver have escaped from slavery and now live in Cincinnatti. However, Sethe is haunted by the memories of her past and a ghost described in the opening lines described as ‘spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.’
You’ll like this book if…you enjoy historical fiction and stories where ghosts of the past play a role in the present.
Get the book today on Amazon.

In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens by Alice Walker

Summary: It is because of our ancestors that we survive. In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens celebrates the women who have come before us. Walker gives the reader a glimpse into her own life and how she became a writer. She also explores various topics from the perspective of womanist theory and engages with the work of other women writers.
You’ll like this book if…you enjoy biographical works and essays that offer an opportunity for your own learning.
Get the book today on Amazon.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Summary:  In Oyeyemi’s story, the main character Boy gives birth to a child that is very different to what she expected. Discovering that her husband is not White, but a very fair skinned Black man, she sends her daughter away and we follow the drama of this divided family. Full of twists, and turns, Boy, Snow, Bird explores race, beauty, and love.
You’ll like this book if… you enjoy thoughtful updates of classic fairytales.
Get the book today on Amazon.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Summary:  This engaging novel follows the lives of two teenagers, Nadia and Luke and Nadia’s friend Aubrey. When Nadia gets pregnant she must make a decision. Will she regret her choice? Can she live a happy life after that? Can she handle the disapproval of the elders in the church and the community? Brit Bennett’s novel explores a tight knit culture and the lives and relationships of many different types of mothers.

You’ll like this book if…you enjoy beautifully written novels about life in a small community.
Get the book today on Amazon.

Efuru by Flora Nwapa

Summary:  Set in a West African village, this story’s protagonist is the strong Black woman that we see the image of across the globe. But this woman is also torn on the inside and must grapple with being childless and manless in a world that associates having children and a man with living a full life.
You’ll like this book if…you enjoy reading book that beautifully and authentically expresses a woman’s inner struggles.
Get the book today on Amazon.

 The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta

Summary:  Nnu Ego lives by her village’s standards of womanhood – she gets married and has children. Yet, achieving this societal standard of virtue nevertheless results in a hard and painful life; she deals with an abusive husband and sons who do not appreciate her and only play the dutiful role as sons when it is too late.
You’ll like this book if…you enjoy reading the stories of real families that challenge and question societal norms.
Get the book today on Amazon.


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    11 Heart-Wrenching Books About Mothers and Motherhood