Two Books About Mothers and Children

This is the week of my 35th birthday.  It has been a distressing past few months, age wise, realizing I am not even close to the youngest person in the office, like I once was.  I have co workers that are fully ten years my junior.  Ten years!  What!  And this week will top it off, marking thirty five full trips around the sun and start me fresh on my thirty sixth.

I am ready to stop getting older now that I have had my son and finished my formal schooling (which was, admittedly, already six years ago since I got that final crown, my license to practice Psychology).  But, since I can’t prevent it, I’ll have to just do my best to enjoy the years that will continue to roll over me.

I accidentally read two books in a row that have to do with the complications between mothers and daughters.  Fathers or lack thereof did not figure heavily in the two books I am posting about today.  I think everyone at some point has some complications with parents, in all the forms in which parents come, even moms who probably do okay but decide when you are born that they are finished aging

A Book From Oprah’s Book Club (Popsugar):

I have actually read a lot of her chosen books, as my mother got into her club before she moved into the classics and used to be a primary source for book recommendations before book blog lists on Facebook or the emails that I let publishers send me or the annual reading challenges.  But I had not read:

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White Oleander, Janet Fitch

And in full disclosure I only listened to the audio which I got on sale and only after the fact discovered that all I had was the abridged version.  I try to avoid abridged versions of books at all costs, not seeing the point of a shortened version of something. However, Oprah did a lovely job with this recording.  The familiarity of her voice did not interfere with her reading of the story.  I forgot she was there.

I thought this book was more about the murder of the mother’s boyfriend, not the complications of Astrid’s resulting foster care placements, and her mother who manages to continue to be a black widow spider all the way from the confines of prison.  The different ways that families live and unravel is fascinating. Her mother was the kind of distant and brilliant ice queen whose love any daughter would pine for. I liked the choice that her mother made in the end, but I will not spoil it and say what it was.  It reminded me of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, another un-putdownable book.  The characterization is what really made White Oleander.  And now I am probably on some level committed to watching the movie.  But that is an okay commitment to have undergone.

A Book That Takes Place in Your Home State (Popsugar):

So what if I just wanted to read this, and it is brand new this year and my stalking of its’ price paid off?  A modern Gothic novel where damaged children channel the dead to fill the time.  I would fit it into categories and find other books to blog along with it later.  And then I find out that the setting of my home state of New York is a serious element of this novel? So what if I am so lucky?

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Mr. Splitfoot, Samantha Hunt

This book says everything about motherhood that I would say if I were to write a novel.  I can’t even be angry at Samantha Hunt for stealing ideas from the wrinkles of my brain because she is so articulate.  There are wanted children, and unwanted children, a woman turning into a mother, a son trying to get back to his mother.  There is a cult, cosmic events, discussions with the dead, and a convergence of stories that artfully twine together. I have to be careful about talking about my favorite parts because I don’t want to give away the twists.  The book even traverses familiar parts of this here home state. She uses brand names for the creation of a specific context of time and place.  I think her references will continue to add to the novel into the time when the context is more obscure than it is now.  Her prose is vivid and she speaks universal truths and crisp metaphors.  What a beautiful novel.  If you like a bit of the supernatural, some creepy settings, some Gothic, and characters that love and are loved despite deep seated damage, this book is for you.

Shares/Likes/Comments are always appreciated.

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3 thoughts on “Two Books About Mothers and Children

  1. 1) Happy almost birthday! I too have struggled with the reality that I am getting older. I am in the my last year of my 20’s and 30 is right around the corner. I’ve started to find grey hairs… Yikes!

    2) I have White Oleander sitting on my shelf right now. I often go thrift store book hunting and I almost always pick up books that were selected for Oprah’s book club! I really enjoyed Orphan Train, so I will give this one a go!

    3) One of my good blogger friends LOVED Mr. Splitfoot as well. Gothic novels are my jam, so I need to get this one as well!

    Like

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