This Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day to honor and celebrate mothers and motherhood. Flowers, breakfast in bed and a handmade card from your children always make for a special day and can really put a smile on Mom’s face. Mothers, and the impact they have on our lives, are well represented in contemporary fiction. Many recent books about mothers and children have focused on both generational and cultural differences in modern families. Book clubs will find much to discuss and many issues and situations they can relate to in these current books about motherhood.
How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway is the perfect choice for a book guaranteed to make you smile. Shoko is a Japanese woman who arrives in America after World War II with an American husband. All she has to guide her is a book entitled How to be an American Housewife. As she raises her children in America, she struggles with the conflicts between the Japanese and American cultures. Her relationship with her daughter suffers, until her daughter visits Japan, at the request of her mother, and begins to understand and appreciate the choices her mother has made. This funny, touching book was inspired by Ms. Dilloway’s own Japanese mother’s experience.
Shilpi Somaya Gowda was moved by her experience as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage to write Secret Daughter, the story of an Indian orphan adopted by American parents. Asha grows up in America, but always feels something is missing in her life until she returns to India on a college fellowship. Family, motherhood, adoption and the search for one’s true self are all issues that Ms. Gowda has touched on in this first novel. This is a book to which all mothers can relate.
The winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize this year was Kyung-sook Shin, author of Please Look after Mom. Ms. Shin was the first woman and the first Korean to be honored with this award. In her novel, an elderly Korean woman on the way to visit her son and daughter suddenly disappears in a train station as the train pulls out without her. As her husband and family search for her, consumed by guilt, they realize how little they really knew her. Told from several points of view, this haunting, moving story about love and sacrifice will be hard to put down.
To all the moms out there, enjoy your day and relax with a good book – Happy Mother’s Day!