Let’s face it – relationships are complicated, and no relationships more so than that between a person and their mother. Navigating Mother’s Day isn’t always a cakewalk, including some of these famous authors who wrote about their mothers.
by Maya Angelou
Published in 2013 by Random House, Angelou’s seventh and final autobiography (she started with I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings in 1969), Mom & Me & Mom focuses on her fractured relationship with her mother who abandoned her and later came back into her life.
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother
James McBride was one of 12 children born to Ruth McBride Jordan. Born in 1956 in Brooklyn, his father was a black pastor and his mother was the daughter of Jewish-Polish immigrants. This memoir, first published in 1995, was on the New York Times best-seller list for 2 years. McBride tells the story of his mother’s life as well as his own, growing up poor in the Red Hook housing projects with his mother and 11 brothers and sisters.
by Anne Lamott
Published in 1993, this is an account of the trials Lamott faced having a baby as a single mother at age 35. Lamott’s first novel, Hard Laughter, was published in 1980, followed by Rosie (1983), Joe Jones (1985), and All New People (1989), but Lamott really hit her stride writing when she began publishing non-fiction. Her strong faith and unflinching honesty was a refreshing take, offering Christian spirituality without harsh judgment. Operating Instructions was followed by Bird-by-Bird, Lamott’s famous book on writing and life.
Originally published in 1976, this is an investigation of motherhood through personal experiences and historical research by the award-winning American poet and essayist Adrienne Rich.
In the 1950s, Rich found herself in her twenties with several collections of poetry published, but was also the mother of three children and felt torn between her art and her family responsibilities. This collection is an exploration of the pull between love, art and the confines and expectations of society and culture.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir was written by Alexie after his mother’s death at 78, and it was first published on June 13, 2017, by Little, Brown,
by George Hodgman (2015)
Published in 2015 by Viking, Bettyville is a memoir by George Hodgman, a veteran magazine and book editor. In 2011, Hodgman left his life in Manhattan to return home to Paris, Missouri, a small midwestern town of 1,200 people, to care for his aging mother. Betty, who is 91 at the time, has a quick wit, a sharp tongue, and does not acknowledge that her son is gay. Hodgman, away from the culture that he is used to in New York, stays in Missouri to care for Betty, who has cancer and dementia.
by Rick Bragg
All Over But the Shoutin‘ is the first memoir written by Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Rick Bragg. Published by Pantheon Books in 1997, it tells of his growing up dirt-poor in rural Alabama with his strong mother, who went 18 years without a new dress and picked cotton in the southern heat to provide for her boys after his father left. Bragg is the quintessential Southern storyteller and has written multiple memoirs about his life. In 2018 he released a food memoir titled The Best Cook in the World, that features 74 classic southern recipes and ‘Tales from my Momma’s Table.’
Amy C. Manikowski is a writer living in Asheville, NC.