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Chapter 19 - Ladder of Years

For a lot of us, Mother's Day may be memorable this year. For me, it is a tough one having lost my mom in September. Recently I returned back to her house to continue cleaning it out for sale and each time I go I unearth another layer in the time capsule of my parent's lives, especially Mom's. While there I also got to celebrate with friends whose daughter-in-law and daughter both will become moms this year. Of course, I also got to see my youngest daughter and her family which is always delightful.

Anyway, I started thinking about books where the mother figures prominently. Sometimes the moms are good, sometimes bad, and sometimes they are just trying to survive a crazy or difficult life. Like so many, I think authors are often just trying to work out the relationships with their mothers. So here are some books I've read featuring mothers.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson - Atkinson does a great job here telling the story of Ruby Lennox. The book begins at Ruby’s conception, and each chapter narrates key points in her life from her birth in 1951 to 1992. Between Ruby’s chapters are family flashbacks from other women in the family, including her mother, Bunty, and her grandmother, Nell.

Room by Emma Donaghue - In Room, Donaghue tells of Jack and his mother Ma who live by themselves in a room. To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. Always planning their escape, Ma teaches Jack everything she can so that they may someday leave the shack they have been imprisoned in. This is a particularly compelling audio as the narrator tells the story perfectly in Jack's voice.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - Fresh from a stay in a psych hospital reporter Camille Preaker returns to her small home town to cover a story about two murdered teenage girls. As she returns and stays with her estranged mother in the family's home, she is haunted by her troubled teenage years.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris - The first in the Vianne Rocher series, Vianne and her young daughter go to a small village in France where Vianne sets up a chocolate shop. Considered to be decadent by the town higher ups, especially during Lent, Vianne brings joy, sensuality, and wisdom to every piece of chocolate she sells.

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride - This is a wonderful memoir by McBride. He had always been told that his mother was a light skinned black woman although there were parts of her past that didn't make sense. McBride's mother was a constant force in his life as she always demanded the best from her eleven children although they lived a very poor life. It wasn't until he was 30 that he found out her truth.

Do you know of any books about strong moms to put on this list? If you do, let me know!

You can purchases these and other books at

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