12 relatable novels about mothers and daughters

12 relatable novels about mothers and daughters

In Reading Lists by G.G. Andrew

12 relatable novels about mothers and daughters

With Mother’s Day approaching, we’ve got Mom on our mind. It’s a great time to delve into novels about the complex and fascinating relationship between mothers and daughters. Scribd has a great selection, including bestselling and critically-acclaimed novels by Jodi Picoult, Amy Tan, Isabel Allende, and more. Here are some of our favorite mother-daughter books, along with why we think they’re perfect to read this Mother’s Day.

Few authors write about mothers and daughters as beautifully as Tan. Set in San Francisco, Ruth has a fraught relationship with her mother, LuLing, who suffers from dementia. But Ruth’s feelings are transformed when she reads LuLing’s memoirs of her upbringing in China around the time of the Japanese invasion and the events that brought her to America. You’ll be moved by this story of intergenerational trauma and healing.

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Mother Daughter Widow Wife by Robin Wasserman

If you want a mother-daughter novel that’s also a riveting thriller, check out Wasserman’s (Girls on Fire) psychological thriller, also available in audiobook. After a woman is found on a bus with no memory and no ID, she submits herself for scientific study led by a controlling doctor. As the team tries to solve the mystery of her identity, she fights to create a new one, and the daughter she left behind struggles to understand why her mother disappeared. A gripping tale of memory and identity, truth and power.

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Two sets of mothers and daughters star in this captivating intergenerational tale brimming with secrets. Widow Veena wants to protect her ambitious daughter, Mala. But her choices have unexpected consequences that echo through the years. Their story connects with that of another mother, Nandini, as her daughter Asha learns the truth of her adoption. Whether you read this novel or listen to the audiobook, you’ll be captivated by these women’s lives.

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This I Know by Eldonna Edwards

Set in the 1960s American Midwest, this moving coming-of-age story follows Grace, an 11-year-old girl who must hide the gift of her psychic intuition from her father, a conservative pastor. As Grace struggles to fit in with her sisters, she forms bonds with a homeless man and a new classmate, which break her out of her shell. But her family loyalty — and psychic gifts — will be tested when her mother is stricken with postpartum depression. The audiobook of this magic-infused novel is also well worth a listen.

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Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Whether you read it or listen to the audiobook, you’ll want to read this novel before the film adaptation comes out. The utterly gripping story follows Sarah, a successful woman who kidnaps a five-year-old girl living with an unfit mother. It’s a perfect choice for book clubs, because you’ll want to discuss the moral implications of Sarah’s choice: Is kidnapping always wrong? Would you have done the same in her shoes?

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After a falling out with her mother, Vivi, theater director Siddalee is sent a scrapbook that tells the story of Vivi’s upbringing in Louisiana, where she and her girlfriends, nicknamed the Ya-Yas, experienced joy and laughter alongside trauma and heartbreak. If you like your mother-daughter stories set in the South, put this New York Times bestseller (or audiobook) on your to-be-read list — or reread it, if it’s been a while. 

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The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

A mother is at the center of the story — and her family — in this magical novel, also available in audiobook. Clara del Valle Trueba, a woman with a connection to spirits, is married to the bold Esteban, who has political ambitions in their country of Chile. But when their daughter has a forbidden love affair, the child that results brings change to both her family and nation.

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Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

We can always count on Jodi Picoult for a juicy read that provokes complex moral questions. In Handle with Care, Charlotte’s beloved daughter, Willow, is stricken with a serious condition that causes neverending broken bones. As the family’s financial burden piles up, Charlotte makes a shocking decision to sue a longtime friend in what Publishers Weekly calls Picoult’s “trademark blend of medicine, law, and love.” This thought-provoking novel is also available in audiobook.

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Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

To save her baby girl’s life, Kavita gives her up for adoption in India. Years later, after Asha grows up as the daughter of California physicians, she clashes with her white, American-born mother. So when Asha is offered a chance to return to India, she takes it, seeking the opportunity to connect with her culture. Tracing the journey of families both found and forged, this is a book — and audiobook — that will stay with you.

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Teen Claire and her single mother rarely see each other anymore. Luckily, they have the notes they leave for one another on their refrigerator door. If you love epistolary novels, you’ll enjoy this book told through messages between mother and daughter, as they discuss work and school and boys before a shocking diagnosis turns their letters more serious. Bonus: The audiobook is narrated by two voice actors, including Amanda Seyfried.

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The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

In California, single mother Alice cares for her daughter, Zoe, a girl who struggles with debilitating social anxiety. But when Alice is diagnosed with cancer, she must rely on a social worker and nurse to help them both. This moving audiobook about four women and their relationships to one another will tug on your heartstrings. Keep tissues handy.

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The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

As a kid, Paula’s mother Kai was a free-spirited storyteller — until a mistake landed her in jail. Years later, as Paula works as a divorce attorney, she receives a mysterious note from her mom — alongside a brother she never knew about. Paula sets out to find her mother and discover the truth about her family and past in this novel (and audiobook) driven by both mysteries and Paula’s own emotional journey.

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For more mother-daughter reading recommendations from our Scribd editors, check out Heartwarming Books About Mothers and Daughters.

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About the Author: G.G. Andrew

G.G. is a freelance writer as well as an author of romance and women's fiction. A Texas transplant, she lives outside Houston with her husband and two sons, both of whom are on the autism spectrum. In her spare time, she enjoys browsing bookstores, yoga, paper crafts, themed food, swimming, and anything related to Halloween. She's probably drinking tea right now.
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