7 Gripping Mother/Daughter Books to Read In May

These picks touch on the intricate relationships between mothers and their daughters.


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

Photo by amazon.com

This five-part novel chronicles a second-generation Irish American adolescent and her impoverished upbringing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Despite the family’s difficult living situation, her mother does everything in her power to give her children a memorable life.

Quote we love: “Look at that tree growing up there out of that grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It's growing out of sour earth. And it's strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way.”

To buy: $9, amazon.com.


The Bridge Ladies, by Betsy Lerner

Photo by amazon.com

In this soon-to-be-released memoir, a daughter sees her mother in a new light after moving home to care for her and joining a 50-year-old ladies Bridge club.

Quote we love: “I remember my mother in glimpses: when she took deep drags on a cigarette, as if she were communing with the universe. When we missed the bus and she drove us to school in her housecoat, her eyes angrily trained on the road. Or looking up words with the intensity of a witch searching for a spell.”

To buy: (coming May 3) $20, amazon.com.


The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

Photo by barnesandnoble.com

The story of four daughters in San Francisco and their Chinese immigrant mothers who formed a bond in 1950s San Francisco. Although a generation gap and cultural differences divide them, a powerful bond is evident as the women divulge their histories of love and loss.

Quote we love: “A girl is like a young tree. You must stand tall and listen to your mother standing next to you. That is the only way to grow strong and straight.”

To buy: $10, barnesandnoble.com.


Lies My Mother Never Told Me, by Kaylie Jones

Photo by amazon.com

Literature and addiction are at the center of this riveting memoir. Author Kaylie Jones writes of her tumultuous relationship with her alcoholic mother, which manifests into a personal struggle.

Quote we love: “The needy child voice inside me said, ‘If she says you’re a nut, then you must be a nut. She’s your mother, the one who always tells the brutal truth.’”

To buy: $13, amazon.com.


My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout

Photo by amazon.com

A mother and her daughter, Lucy, have been estranged ever since Lucy left her troubled family in Illinois to start a new life in New York. A tension rises to the surface during a hospital stay as Lucy’s mother tells stories of her daughter’s harsh upbringing.

Quote we love: “I kept thinking how the five of us had had a really unhealthy family, but I saw then too how our roots were twisted so tenaciously around one another’s hearts.”

To buy: $13, amazon.com.


The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

Photo by amazon.com

Set in South Carolina during the Civil Rights Movement, this read tells the tale of Lily Owens as she discovers her deceased mother’s past and in turn, herself.

Quote we love: “Egg laying is the main thing, Lily. She’s the mother of every bee in the hive, and they all depend on her to keep it going. I don’t care what their job is—they know the queen is their mother. She’s the mother of thousands.”

To buy: $9, amazon.com.


Mom & Me & Mom, by Maya Angelou

Photo by amazon.com

Angelou writes about the complicated early relationship with her mother and how the two came to love and respect each other later in her adult life.

Quote we love: “I really saw clearly, and for the first time, why a mother is really important. Not just because she feeds and also loves and cuddles and even mollycoddles a child, but because in an interesting and maybe an eerie and unworldly way, she stands in the gap. She stands between the unknown and the known.”

To buy: $16, amazon.com.