Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers and Daughters

In honour of Mother's Day, The Reader is offering up reading suggestions featuring recent novels which feature relationships between mothers and daughters.

How to Bake a Perfect Life: a novel
by Barbara O'Neal

"Forty-year-old bread maker Ramona Gallagher owns a boulangerie in Colorado Springs, though independence from her restaurateur family members has put a crimp in her financial well-being and in their relationships. Pregnant with her first child, Ramona's 24-year-old daughter, Sofia, flies to Germany when her soldier husband, Oscar, is burned in an explosion in Afghanistan. Katie, Oscar's 13-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, comes to live with Ramona after her mother is arrested and forced into rehab for drug use. A surly teen with a dog, Katie adds to the unresolved family issues lying heavily on Ramona's shoulders.

She thinks back on that long-ago summer, when she was pregnant and Aunt Poppy had taught her to bake bread-and, oh, that young man at the record store. Verdict Mothers and daughters are at the heart of this beautiful novel by O'Neal (The Lost Recipe for Happiness). Their interactions can be thorny and insuperable, yet there is love at the root, just waiting for the proper nourishment to make it grow-a lot like mother dough, refreshed and fed and folded into so many tantalizing creations. O'Neal offers baking lore and recipes along with her narrative. Readers will be captivated by the baking process as much as they are by these complex and multidimensional women. Highly recommended." - Library Journal

Things Your Mother Never Told You
by Olivia Lichtenstein

"'I hate you. When I'm a mother, I'm never going to be like you...'These words come back to haunt Ros, years later. As her marriage of twenty years collapses and her beloved twin sons prepare to flee the nest, Ros's world is tilting on its axis. It doesn't help that her dead mother seems to have taken up residence in her head, reminding her of things she once said.As Ros tries to adapt to sharing custody of the family dog and life without her husband and boys in the house, she embarks on a new regime to stay sane: yoga, herbal remedies, internet dating. But as Ros is trying to find herself, the arrival of a memoir her mother wrote begins to reveal a woman she never knew, taking her on a journey into her mother's past that will change forever her idea of who she is." - Publisher

The Butterfly's Daughter

by Mary Alice Monroe

"Four very different women embark on a transformational journey that follows the migrating monarchs across the United States to Mexico. The story begins when Luz Avila's grandmother, the local butterfly lady, purchases an old, orange VW bug for a road trip home to Mexico. When she unexpectedly dies, Luz is inspired to take her grandmother's ashes home. In the manner of the Aztec myth of the goddess who brings light to the world, Luz attracts a collection of lost women, each seeking change in their lives. The Mexican people believe the monarchs are the spirits of the recently departed and Luz taps into ancient rituals and myths as she follows the spectacular, glittering river of orange monarchs in the sky to home." - Publisher

The Next Queen of Heaven: a novel
by Gregory Maguire

"As the new millennium approaches, the eccentric town of Thebes grows even stranger. Clocked by a Catholic statuette, Mrs. Leontina Scales begins speaking in tongues. Her daughter, Tabitha Scales, and her sons scheme to save their mother or surrender her to Jesus--whatever comes first. Meanwhile, choir director Jeremy Carr, caught between lust and ambition, fumbles his way toward Y2K. Only a modern master like Gregory Maguire can spin a tale this frantic, funny, and farcical. The ancient Sisters of the Sorrowful Mysteries join with a gay singing group. The Radical Radiants battle the Catholics. A Christmas pageant goes horribly awry. And a child is born. The Next Queen of Heaven is Maguire's most imaginative story yet"

Mothers and Other Liars
by Amy Bourret

"Watch your back, Jodi Picoult! Here comes Bourret, a Yale-trained lawyer who practiced child-advocacy law and draws on past experiences for her gripping first novel. When Ruby was 19, she found a baby abandoned in a rest-stop trash can. Thinking she is doing the right thing, Ruby takes the baby to raise as her own. Flash forward nine years, and Ruby and the little girl, Lark, are a happy family in New Mexico, where Ruby works as a nail technician. They have a large network of friends and bond with Ruby's boyfriend's family. Then Ruby sees a tabloid article about an abandoned baby, and everything tilts. Lark wasn't simply left, she was kidnapped, and now Ruby must figure out what to do. The choices she makes tear her world apart. Verdict Bourret nails the character development and pacing that make a good novel compelling. She unfolds her well-written, dramatic story in tidbits that will make readers hungry for more. Perfect for summer reading" - Library Journal

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