• The cover of the book Operating Instructions

    Operating Instructions

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    Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott is the mother of all boy mom books. It’s required reading for anyone learning to speak boy. Equal parts despair—Lamott is a single mom who sometimes wants to leave her crying boy outside on the stoop—and equal parts gut-punches of hilarious wisdom and ardor about boy life and mom devotion.

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  • The cover of the book Dear Edward

    Dear Edward

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    This moving novel is a deep-dive into the inner-life of grieving boys. Edward’s real mom is missing in this novel and her long shadow sits over the whole book. The childless aunt is the stand-in mom, and she shows us what it’s like to learn to love an ever-so-fragile boy who can’t speak about his sadness for the novel’s first half. This book nailed the tone and the handle-with-care instructions when boys begin to risk showing their emotions and their true selves.

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  • The cover of the book On Beauty

    On Beauty

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    Zadie Smith’s On Beauty is such deliciously smart, domestic cinema, and the novel’s teenage boy, Levi, provides so much of the heat. Smith invites the reader to watch up-close while Levi’s mom supports his embrace of his Black identity and also his rage over systemic racism. The novel reminds us to pay attention! Pay attention! Do not look away from the teen boy for even a minute, or you’ll miss crucial pieces of information and risk losing him.

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  • The cover of the book Normal People

    Normal People

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    Sally Rooney’s Normal People does boy inner life so very well. The novel also does deft work around the depiction of a divorced boy mom, who doesn’t abandon her son when he appears to be taking advantage of his secret girlfriend. The mom calls her son out on his latent misogyny, and the son takes notice. All the while, she’s working full-time cleaning houses and making it her life’s job to meet her son where he is again and again.

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  • The cover of the book Lost Children Archive

    Lost Children Archive

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    Lost Children Archive by Valerie Luiselli takes us back to the early years of boy momness. This book is the most unique parenting novel I’ve ever read: a mother and father and two young kids drive into the border crisis and make meaning of the words family and love and missing. The writing feels part-diary, part-indictment, and part love-letter for the son that the mother is sure she’s already in the act of losing.

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  • The cover of the book Landslide

    Landslide

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    And lastly, there’s my novel, Landslide, which depicts two wise, funny teenage boys and their mom trying to make it on the coast of Maine. The novel shows us teenage boys in all their sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll glory—with a mother who vows to stay in the trenches with them and keep loving them unconditionally.

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