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Mothers, literary moms we love & hate

Ma from Room by Emma Donoghue. Jack’s mother has been abducted, and held captive for seven years. Five-year-old Jack is her abductor’s child. Jack lives with Ma in Room, the only world he knows. Ma’s love for Jack is heart-breakingly beautiful as she raises him in the tiny space, making him strong enough to save them both. Available $16.99

Ruth Jamison from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Ruth leaves her abusive husband, Frank, and sets up home with Idgie, where the two raise Buddy Junior, run a cafe, fight racial prejudice, and ultimately protect Buddy from his father. Available $7.99

Mrs. Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Hazel’s mother adores her cancer-stricken daughter. She looks after her, trying to shied her as much as she can. She is always there. Available $12.99

Sophie Zawistowska from Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. Sophie, a Polish survivor of the Nazi death camps, is forced to decide which one of her children will live. She chooses her son, but she never finds out what happens to him. Her daughter, Eva is gassed at Auschwitz. Sophie survives to end up killing herself after the war. Available $7.99

Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Mrs. Bennet is a terrible social climber. She is silly, irrational, frivolous, and ill-mannered. Her sole ambition is to marry her daughters to wealthy men. Available $7.99

Lila Wingo from The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. Lila and her children, Savannah and Tom, are raped by three escaped prisoners. The children’s elder brother comes home, and they manage to kill the men. Lila forces the children to bury the bodies and she makes them promise never to speak of what happened. Available $7.99

Marmee in 'Little Women' How about a nicer Margaret? Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women is about four sisters coming into womanhood, and although they are the focus, Marmee is the stalwart guiding their way. Margaret March dispenses wisdom, compassion, and guidance with a quiet strength that has endeared her to generations of readers. Perhaps embodying the American ideal of womanhood (and thus motherhood) at the time, Marmee is memorable not just for her idyllic nature, but for how she set the role of motherhood for so many works to come. Available $10.99

Cersei Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire. For a more recent option, George R.R. Martin’s famous series has several fascinating and memorable moms. We’ve got the Mother of Dragons, Ellaria Sand who raises assassins, and Catelyn Stark who’s a beautiful strong mother figure, but ultimately it’s Cersei Lannister who steals the show—at least when it comes to the memorability factor. I mean, how do you forget about a mom whose baby daddy is also her twin brother? (Shout out to Flowers in the Attic, whose mother could also have easily made this list.) And sure, incest makes Cersei memorable, but it’s her motivations that make her fascinating. She is greedy, selfish, and power-hungry, yes, but she is also complex and multi-faceted, especially when it comes to her children. Available $8.99

Ma Ingalls in 'Little House On The Prairie'. It seems that for every literary horror-show of a mom, there’s a dream mother to balance her. Caroline Lake Quiner Ingalls was the real-life inspiration for Ma Ingalls in the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Ma is the epitome of the comforting mother, and another example of the American cultural ideal. She’s wise, patient, compassionate, optimistic, and the quintessential homemaker. You say 'ma,' and thousands of Americans will fill in "Ingalls." Available $16.99

Mother. A Child called "It." This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by Catherine Roerva Pelzer, his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. Available $11.95

A Chair for My Mother. Mama is a believable and hardworking single parent, who I came to love just as her daughter Rosa does in the book. She's a great role model for Rosa. Together, Mama, Rosa, and Rosa's grandma find significance and purpose through their hard work and saving to buy a brand-new chair after losing everything in a fire. When their savings jar is finally full, the family goes chair shopping to find the perfect replacement. In the end, Grandma has a chair to sit in during the day, Mama has a comfy chair to sit in after a long day working in a diner, and Rosa has a chair where Mama and Grandma can read her bedtime stories. Available $7.99

Ramona and her Mother. I have a soft spot for Mrs. Quimby, of the Ramona books. The Quimbys weren't perfect parents, they argued. And when Ramona threatens to run away, Mrs. Quimby pulls the ultimate parenting kung fu move — she offers to help. I always thought, oh, I'll keep that in my back pocket for when this happens to me — because I know it will happen to me. I'm all about the "good enough" mother — as opposed to the "perfect mother" — and, in the realm of children's books, Mrs. Quimby fits that mold. Available $7.99

A Wrinkle in Time. Mrs. Murry, brilliant scientist and successful mother, must deal with raising four kids alone when her husband goes missing on a secret government project. Does she whine and complain like I would? No way. She perseveres. She has family dinner and makes them hot chocolate when they are up in the middle of the night. She appreciates what makes each of her children special and unique and brings out the best in each of them. She inspires me to want to be a better mother. Available $6.99

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Mrs. Weasley from the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. She's an incredible, caring mom and a strong warrior woman in her own right. She clearly loves her kids and their friends (Harry and Hermione get to stay at the Burrow anytime) yet still has rules and expectations (Ron's embarrassing Howler). She's imperfect but her love shows in everything she does. That, in my eyes, is the best kind of parent. Available $39.99

Marilla in Anne of Avonlea has a special place in my heart. She would not even call herself a mother — remember, she wouldn't even let Anne call her 'Aunt'— but we all know the truth. Like all us moms, she was forever transformed by a child's love, and by the surprising depths of her own heart. Available $7.99

And, as a mother of seven sons, this one never gets old. One of my all-time favorites. I cry every time I read it.... Love you Forever, is a beautiful script about parenthood, a poignant parable about life and death, a testimony to when the roles of child and parent become blurry. The story reminds you that no matter how grown up you are, you're always someone's child; that no matter how "adult" you are, you're never too old to be loved by your parents. Available $19.99

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