Where Is My Mother? — absent moms in novels

   Click on images  
sleepwalker    i liked my life    swimming lessons   
universal harvester    rabbit cake   close enough touch  
twleve lives samuel hawley   grief thing with feathers    nix nathan hill   
mothers brit bennett    everything never told you    regional office   
goldfinch tartt    whered you go bern    once upon river   
swamplandia    curious incident dog    running with scissors   


Have you noticed
the number of absent mothers at the heart of new novels lately? So far I count SEVEN—in the first quarter of 2017 alone—surely there are more.

1/10  The Sleepwalker
1/31 I Liked My Life
1/ 7 Swimming Lessons
1/ 7 Universal Harvester
3/ 7 Rabbit Cake
3/ 7 Close Enough to Touch
3/28 Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

Then there are last year's books, as well as those over the past several years—most famously The Goldfinch and Where'd You Go, Bernadette. We can even go back to the early-aughts.

The missing mothers in these stories take off…or wander off…or die…or are killed…or kill themselves. Sometimes it happens before the novel opens, sometimes within the pages.

Whenever or however they disappear, fictional moms leave heartbreak and loneliness in their wake—a grief so profound it shapes a character's motivations and actions throughout the novel.

It is an age-old literary trope, which authors use to set their protagonists on the path of the Hero's Journey—a quest for self-discovery, belonging, and self-acceptance.

One of the best missing mother novels? Dickens' David Copperfield—the mother of all missing mother stories.

By the way...I've written on a this subject a number of years ago. See Lost Mothers—Why authors bump off moms.

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