Best Books of the Month: Literature and Fiction

Erin Kodicek on May 24, 2017

BurmaMommy dearists, disappearing moms, sacrificial moms...I suppose it's no coincidence that the month of May would feature so many great novels where moms play a prominent role (be careful which one you select as a belated Mother's Day gift). We start off with Charmaine Craig's Miss Burma, a story about family ties that are tested by two wars, which was inspired by the experiences of Craig's real-life mother and grandparents.

Browse the rest below, and discover all of our selections for the best literature and fiction of May here.

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Mother Land by Paul Theroux
The title is a cheeky reference to the household a narcissistic mother rules with an iron fist. Anyone who has grown up in such a family will especially appreciate the complicated emotional dynamics, where one child is pitted against the other, casting a toxic cloud over their lives that is difficult to eschew (not speaking from experience--love you, mom!).

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The Leavers by Lisa Ko
This debut was awarded the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction. The purpose of the award is to recognize works that deftly address issues of social justice. The Leavers is about Deming Guo, a young boy whose mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, vanishes after work one day. Soon, a well-intentioned but occasionally misguided white couple adopts him and renames him...Daniel Wilkinson (perhaps the whitest name, ever). While Deming/Daniel struggles with reconciling his past self with the new identity his adopted parents want him to assume, his birth mother grapples with the consequences of her decisions.

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Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton
It's 1883 in Philadelphia and an unwed mother has been expelled by her community and forced to have her baby in a wayward home for "wronged women." Because two wrongs don't make a right, but do make fascinating fodder for a novel, Lilli decides to keep her baby, despite the prejudices, poverty, and ignominy that will accompany her choice. Benton has written a powerful work steeped in history, one that highlights the sacrifices, and rich rewards, of being a mother.


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