Glitter and Glue
The title of Kelly Corrigan’s memoir comes from the way her mother once described their family’s dynamic: Kelly’s father, with his sparkly, outgoing personality, was the glitter, but she—staid, practical, and stern—was the glue. Kelly and her mother’s relationship was fraught during her adolescence, but it wasn’t until Kelly set off on a post-college adventure to Australia, and ended up as a nanny to a family who had just lost their mother, that she fully understood her and her mom’s complex yet ultimately loving relationship. The glue does hold everything together, after all.
Son of a Gun
Justin St. Germain
Justin St. Germain’s mother, Debbie, was a former army paratrooper who in 2001 was found dead in her trailer in the aptly-named town of Tombstone, Arizona, apparently killed by her fifth husband. St. Germain, only 20 at the time and numbed by the tragic loss, returns to the desert years later to identify what happened to his mother, speaking to her four previous husbands in the process. This heartbreaking memoir is an examination of domestic abuse, gun culture in America, and above all, a son’s desire to be the man his mother would have wanted him to be.
A Mother's Reckoning
Every day since the Columbine shootings in 1999, Sue Klebold has asked herself, “How could my son Dylan do such a thing? And was there anything I, as a mother, could have done differently?” In this unflinchingly honest memoir, Klebold grapples with these questions as she tries to understand her son’s motivation behind this incomprehensible act. Her desire to make sense of his actions leads her to the intersection of mental health problems and violence, which she’s made her life’s work. This book is a heartbreaking yet crucial read that, above everything, encompasses a mother’s unending love for her child.
The Long Goodbye
When her mother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 55, poet Meghan O’Rourke was adrift in a sea of anguish. As the eldest of her siblings, O’Rourke shuttled between her home in Brooklyn and her mother’s bedside, taking on the taxing role of caretaker as death loomed nearer and nearer. And when it came, the grief was overwhelming, isolating, and alienating—despite it being a universal human emotion. This meditation on loss feels like a friend with her hand on your back, guiding you through the process.
I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This
Nadja Spiegelman—daughter of Françoise Mouly, New Yorker art director, and Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus—weaves together a memoir of matrilineal inheritance and the secrets she discovers in the reasons her mother left Paris. Spiegelman travels back through generations, telling stories through memory and family lore, and tracking the habits, neuroses, and patterns of how mothers and daughters love one another. Slate wrote that what Elena Ferrante did for female friends, Spiegelman does for mothers and daughters—high praise, indeed.
Whether you’re a mom or have a mom, there’s something satisfying about reading accounts of other mother-child relationships—especially when they’re more troubled than your own. These true reflections on mothers and by mothers provide perspective in the best way possible: by showing alternative pathways and, by comparison, making you feel grateful for the maternal figure in your life, or your lasting memories of her.
Featured Image: Kathrin Ziegler