There seems to be no other Hallmark holiday like Valentine’s Day that stirs up such widespread contention among the zillions of people who have zero cause to celebrate. All the heart-shaped chocolate boxes and jewelry commercials are cruel reminders that they got gypped in the love department. Well that’s exactly how I feel when Mother’s Day rears its ugly head. The good news, however, is that I get to spend the day lounging around with a good book instead of being smooshed inside a crowded restaurant eating overpriced brunch. Ha! Take that, Mother’s Day revelers!
So for those of you who enjoy a good book about resourceful women who found their way in the world just fine without a mother, this reading roundup is for you. And hey, on the bright side, all that money you’d be spending on wilting tulips and sappy cards can go toward books. That ought to take the sting out of it, right?
Disclaimer: There are many wonderful, loving mothers out there who deserve to be spoiled on this day. Kudos to them and their lucky children.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Break out that box of tissues! This one’s a tear-jerker. If you feel that you don’t need to read the book because you already saw the movie, think again. The prose, the poetic symbolism, the summertime Southern setting—everything about this book makes my soul sing! Lily’s inner turmoil took me to a familiar place that I’ve locked away, causing stubborn tears rising to the surface for the first time in years. It’s hard to articulate how I felt reading this book. Let’s see…how should I put this? Back when I experienced Disneyland for the first time as a kid, I was blown away by the lights, the sounds, the magic–the bigness of it all. It was like venturing into a whole new vibrant world that I never wanted to leave. Well that’s how I felt on an emotional level while reading Lily’s inner dialogue. Sounds corny, I know, but it’s the truth! I rooted for her as she found love with her newfound mother figures and came to terms with her abandonment issues. It’s not just one story about Lily’s journey of self-discovery, it’s also a story about standing up for what’s right, demanding justice and equality, and carving a path for yourself in defiance of oppression.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Not since The Secret Life of Bees has a book touched that sweet spot in my heart that yearns for a good ol’ tear-jerking Southern drama. I instantly fell in love with little CeeCee, a 12-year-old girl who lost her mentally ill mother and found solace in a new tribe of strong Southern women. Like Opal in Because of Win Dixie, CeeCee listens to other people’s lives and provides her own bits of wisdom through hopeful wonder and dead-on honesty. This is an inspiring coming-of-age journey filled with hope, redemption and the divine power of women. Oh how I wish I could spend an afternoon sipping iced tea with this sweet girl and her sisterhood of surrogate mothers in Aunt Tootie’s antebellum mansion…sigh. Go here for my review.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Like listening to the perfect sad song on a bad day, this book has somewhat of a cathartic effect. Anyone who has grown up in a loveless household will identify with Astrid’s struggle. But ultimately this is a story about survival. Let’s face it; a lot of us get the short hand of the stick when it comes to parents. But once we get out from under their thumb, we have the freedom to chart our own destiny. Astrid’s journey – from a naïve young girl, to a hardened foster kid, to a hopeful young artist – is a tribute to the resiliency of the human spirit. Go here for my review.
Made in the USA by Billie Letts
This heart-wrenching story of survival revolves around two orphans, Lutie and Fate, who hit the road in their dead guardian’s rusted-out Pontiac in search of their estranged father. On their journey, they encounter the darkest side of humanity in a soulless city filled with rapists, murderers, robbers and pimps. When the kids hit rock bottom, their mysterious protector, Juan Vargas, swoops in and brings them into the fold at his family-owned circus in rural Oklahoma. Away from the harsh city streets, they develop relationships with an eclectic cast of circus performers and slowly but surely come into their own. Much like her bestselling hit Where the Heart Is, this heartwarming tale explores the depths of family ties, the agony of unexpected loss and the resilience of the human spirit. I recommend this book to anyone who likes feisty female protagonists and rags-to-riches endings. Go here for my review.