A Booklist for Mother’s Day

May 9, 2024

The covers to the books discussed in the article belowAs Mother’s Day in the US approaches, we celebrate our mothers, the most incredible and important people, who have given us all tenderness and warmth since our first breath. On this special day, we can once again express gratitude for the unconditional love, selflessness, and self-sacrifice they shower upon us. Here, I present four recent books, written by female authors, illuminating motherhood’s complex nature and exploring themes of identity, belonging, loss, and love. As we honor the mothers and mother figures in our lives, these stories serve as a reminder of the profound impact of maternal love and the timeless significance of the mother-daughter bond.


Katya Apekina

Mother Doll

Abrams Books, 2024

Mother Doll explores the complex relationships between mothers and daughters throughout many generations. Zhenia, a Russian Jewish woman living in Los Angeles, struggles with an unplanned pregnancy, her grandmother’s sudden passing, and an identity crisis. When contacted by a psychic who claims to communicate with her great-grandmother, a Russian revolutionary seeking forgiveness, Zhenia decides to confront the past of her ancestors and its relevance to her present challenges. Blending supernatural elements into real-world circumstances, Apekina explores the transmission of trauma through generations and the possibility of redemption through understanding and forgiveness. The novel is a moving reflection on motherhood, immigration, identity, and the timeless connection between women across generations.


Balsam Karam

The Singularity

Trans. Saskia Vogel

Feminist Press, 2024

The Singularity navigates the theme of motherhood while also shedding light on how loss and displacement shape one’s perception of the world through the lens of motherhood. Presenting two intertwined narratives, the novel delves into the grief-stricken journey of a mother who tragically loses her daughter and the haunting memories of another woman who reflects on her many losses of language, country, and identity due to war and migration. According to Shahrnush Parsipur, author of Women Without Men, “The Singularity is a novel about loss and longing—a mother who misses her child, children who miss their mother, and all of those who miss their country as they try to feel the new earth in their new land.” Karam’s debut novel, translated from Swedish into English by Saskia Vogel, offers a profound exploration of memory, history, and the enduring bonds between mothers and daughters across time and space.


Annell López

I'll Give You a Reason

Feminist Press, 2024

I'll Give You a Reason is a collection of stories delving into themes of womanhood, motherhood, and the self-discovery journey of young women within a vibrant immigrant community in Newark, New Jersey. From one story, in which a young widow goes on a healing journey after her husband’s death, to another, where a daughter attempts to fix her marriage by recalling her mother’s use of love spells and rituals, Annell López’s stories explore race, identity, belonging, and the pursuit of joy and intimacy amidst political unrest, sexuality, religion, and gentrification. As Bridgett M. Davis, the author of The World According to Fannie Davis, notices, “I’ll Give You a Reason thrums with richly drawn portrayals of Dominican immigrants rarely visible in our society. Annell López makes us see these complex, tough women and girls in their full humanity. Even as they chase an elusive American dream, these characters fight back in the ways they know how. And we can’t help but love them for it.”


Maria Grazia Calandrone

Your Little Matter

Trans. Antonella Lettieri

Foundry Editions, 2024

Your Little Matter delves into the poignant narrative of author Maria Grazia Calandrone, who goes on a journey to unravel the truth behind her abandonment as a newborn in Rome, Italy, in the 1960s. Through the discovery of her family’s places of joy and suffering, she reveals the harsh realities that marginalized women in Southern Italy were forced to face during that era. The book serves as both a personal journey of discovery and a broader reflection on social injustices, ultimately revealing a compelling narrative of tragedy and the fight for freedom. Calandrone’s poetic prose and intimate narrative explore the theme of motherhood by offering profound insights into the complexities of parental bonds and the lasting impact of maternal experiences on generations.

Daria Shchukina is an international student from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and a junior at the University of Oklahoma. Majoring in English, she is currently taking an independent study dedicated to translation studies. She hopes to pursue graduate school and aims to specialize in comparative literature and translation post-OU graduation.