Few relationships are more complicated than the relationship between mother and daughter; often the strongest bonds are forged with years of cumbersome baggage. These novels, by some of the most celebrated of contemporary writers, explore the complex and compelling bonds between mothers and daughters.
In Lisa Glatt’s debut novel, Rachel Spark returns home to care for her terminally ill mother. In the midst of a tailspin of poor sexual choices, Rachel leads a cast of women navigating complex relationships with each other, with men, and most significantly with their own bodies. Even as her body turns against her, Rachel’s mother remains a positive, comic, grounding force in the novel . . . sometimes to Rachel’s frustration. It’s that character, and her humor, that are at the center of this very funny, very painful rumination on death, sex, and perseverance.
Another novel about a daughter returning home to care for her terminally ill mother, this New York Times bestseller focuses on Ellen—a successful, high-powered career woman who imagines she has little in common with her homemaker mother. Through their interactions, she discovers otherwise. The most memorable aspects of this novel are the nuanced explorations of the way familial roles in the last days of a parent’s life are defined by familial roles of the past.
This 1995 novel focuses on twelve-year-old Hattie Barnes, whose mother, Maggie, suffers from mental illness so severe (and sometimes violent) that the entire family lives in constant fear and uncertainty. They are all victims of Maggie’s ravaging disease, perhaps no one more so than Hattie, who struggles to form a bond with a mother who may be unable to truly bond with anyone.