Skip to main content

The Mom Problem

I have a theory I’m going to throw out here. I’m probably not the first to think of this, but I want to write it down anyway. Librarians and mothers often complain about the abundance of middle-grade novels in which the mom has died, and don’t get us started on all those princess movies where the princess is motherless. 

Just the other day – either on Facebook or in an advertisement in e-mail – I saw a tea towel that said “OMG My Mom Was Right About Everything.” And click: This may be why moms have to disappear for a little while (or, more simply in these books, just not be there). The character needs to grow and find herself. How can she do that if mom is there and mom is always right? So, let’s kill off mom.

We know when our kids reach a certain age that we must cut those apron strings (standing in for the umbilical cord). Wouldn’t it be nice to find a children’s book instead where the mom and daughter go through that process? I’m sure those books are out there. I just haven’t found them yet. 

There are some other books in which the mom is totally clueless and these are problematic too. But I kind of get it. Of course the teen is going to think mom is clueless. Duh. But let’s not take it too far. I finished Under the Egg last night by Laura Marx Fitzgerald last night and in that book the mom is portrayed as worse than clueless – she’s a genius who locks herself in her room to work on her math dissertation and has been doing so for more than 10 years. She is unaware that she and her daughter have no money and/or food. I had wanted to read this book for a long time, so my feelings are probably tempered by the fact that I had been looking forward to it and it didn’t meet my expectations. The plot was kind of interesting, but not totally believable. The child-like mom just added to my disappointment.

So, I guess I have a project: Find a book where mom and daughter go through some sort of growth together. It has to be out there.  


Popular posts from this blog

What I Haven't Read in 2017

I made an odd sort of promise to myself this year: Read fewer books. The past few years, I been reading at a pace of about 100 books per year – a mix of children’s (but not counting picture books), young adult, and adult – and I felt as if I was reading too quickly and perhaps forgetting what I was reading. (Thank goodness for Goodreads.)
However, I consider it a very important part of my job as a librarian to keep up with what’s published, even if it’s a daunting task. Hundreds of thousands books are published each year in this country, so obviously it’s beyond even a superhero librarian (and I’m not one of those) to keep all those titles straight. But I try to at least know something about some books. We have two public-facing desks in my library – one is called the information desk; the other, reference. If you are working at the information desk, you will be asked for book recommendations. You will be asked, have you read this book? You will be asked to help select a book for a r…

"Beartown" by Fredrik Backman

I’m about to be overly effusive: I loved Beartown by Fredrik Backman and I think it is one of the best books I’ve ever read. (See Tangent 1.)

Backman lured us into his Swedish world of curmudgeons and the neighbors who love them with A Man Called Ove and his other novellas. But this isn’t A Man Called Ove. This book has a much larger scope. This feels like the book Backman has always wanted to write but had to wait to give to us until he developed an audience. You got it, bro. I will read whatever else you write in the future. This book more deeply develops his ideas about communities. It is also about parenthood and all the responsibilities that go along with it. It’s about family and best friends who are like family. It’s about belonging. It’s about sorrow and happiness. And there’s some hockey. (Tangent 2.)
You will hate some of the parents (Kevin’s, William’s). You will love some of the teens (Amat, Maya, Ana, Benji, Bobo, Leo...). Be prepared to feel emotions. The characters – a…