Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
Mother’s Day has actually been and gone two months now in Ireland but I’ll roll with this theme nevertheless. I decided to scroll through my Goodreads list to pick out good and bad book mothers and I think I came up with an even number of them.
Good Book Mothers
1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I can only imagine how heart-breaking and difficult it is to have a child suffering from cancer. While this book has been criticised for romancing cancer, I did think Green’s portrayal of Hazel’s mother Frannie was a good one. Throughout the course of the book we get glimpses of her strength but also her vulnerability. She is optimistic even in the face of her daughter’s potentially short life, but we also see her at her lowest when she fears she’ll no longer be a mother if Hazel does die. And Laura Dern’s performance in the film adaptation does Frannie justice.
2. The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
Set in the winter of 1867 on Dove River, Mrs. Ross discovers a dead body and, like a good Samaritan, reports it to the authorities. She soon regrets her decision, however, when she discovers her teenage son is missing and is thus considered a prime suspect. With the help of a half breed Native American and trapper, Mrs. Ross sets out to find her son. The winter is harsh but a mother’s love conquers the elements in a desperate search for the truth, which only made me love this book even more.
3. The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton
Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska when night is set to last for 54 days. Yasmin’s husband and Ruby’s father is missing and so the pair set out across the frozen wilderness in a truck in search of him. You may think that Yasmin is putting her daughter in danger with such a trek, but her love for Ruby shows through her determination to make the girl as comfortable as possible and reassuring her that all will be well. In spite of her fear, Yasmin’s first priority is her daughter and is evident throughout this amazing book.
4. Little Women by Louise Alcott
Mrs. March is one of my favourite mothers in literature, as she encourages her daughters to be the best they can be even in a time when women were mostly considered the homemakers. She never strikes her children and doesn’t allow them to discriminate. Instead she encourages open mindedness and compassion. My favourite moment is when she gives Jo her blessing to go to New York and find her place in the world of writing. It’s heart breaking because she’d rather keep all of her daughters close but she suppresses this desire for the sake of her children’s happiness.
5. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Written from a little boy’s – Bruno’s – point of view, we know his mother only as Mother. Married to a high ranking member of Hitler’s army, Mother first appears blissfully ignorant of just what goes on under her husband’s command. She has a kind nature and doesn’t treat anyone as if they are beneath her. However, when she learns just what is essentially in her new back garden, her demeanor slips and she becomes resentful of her husband and fearful for her children as they are set to become brainwashed. Mother is a character who represents potentially a long list of wives of Nazi soldiers who faced such a conflict of emotions and loyalty to their husbands, and while the book mostly focuses on Bruno’s innocence and ignorance to what is going on around him, it’s Mother who stands out for me.
Bad Book Mothers
6. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Set in a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift. Sifa Kereseth is one of three Oracles of the planet Thuhve, who has the gift of prophetic visions. Her two sons are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers and yet Sifa is nowhere to be found. Some assume she has killed herself to avoid capture, as who wouldn’t want an oracle as their prisoner? However, the big question is: why didn’t she forewarn her family of the enemy attack? To me, this is inexcusable, she more than likely knew what was coming and chose to save herself (though you could say she was protecting the planet). She certainly isn’t winning any Mother of the Year awards!
7. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
I can’t really say exactly why I didn’t think the mother of this story – Patty Day – was a good mother without ruining the ending. While it may seem in the beginning that she lived for her kids’ well-being, I didn’t find her solution to their problems to be something they would ultimately thankful to her for, but that’s just my opinion!
8. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler
I’m a big animal lover so I felt this book was not a good display of compassion to animals. Unfortunately, like Dark Places, I can’t say why I don’t think Mrs. Cooke was a good mother. But I guess I already ruined that with my first sentence. Basically Rosemary Cooke’s (main character) father is a psychologist who essentially runs an animal-human-behaviour experiment on his children which, to me, doesn’t make him Father of the Year, but we’re talking about mothers. Essentially Mrs. Cooke went along with this, raising an animal (Fern) and allowing their daughter Rosemary to form a bond that they suddenly severed when Rosemary accused Fern (out of jealousy) of hurting her. No one tells Rosemary where Fern is gone and she grows up in complete darkness. To me, that is cruelty on behalf of both parents, they’ve mistreated both their children and Fern. Maybe I’m being over-dramatic, but don’t underestimate my love of animals!
9. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
This may seem like a cliché, but to me, Bella’s mother is not good at her role for the simple reason that she chose her new husband over her daughter, essentially making Bella feel guilty for keeping her from travelling around America with him because – shock horror – she has to be a mother! Enough said.
10. Never Saw it Coming by Linwood Barclay
Keisha Ceylon is a psychic – well, not really. She scams people into thinking she is and charges over the odds for her services. She is also a mother, and this is my problem. We see her almost instantly put herself in danger when she inadvertently uncovers a murder and ends up becoming a suspect. While her priority is her son, her choice of work quickly proves to be dangerous and therefore her son is at risk. Shame on you, Keisha!