Mother-daughter relationships are some of the most powerful relationships in your life — especially in your teenage years. But while there are loads of incredible books inspired by this relationship in "Adult' literature and even nonfiction, there are fewer well-publicized mother-daughter novels in young adult.
It's a common issue for YA novels to ignore parents, instead focusing on peer-to-peer relationships, and instead even orphaning the protagonists (which is common in television aimed at teenagers, as well). But if you ask any teenager now or adult looking back, relationships with your mother (or a mother figure) were some of the most important of that time.
For YA novels that do include mothers, the relationship is often portrayed as troublesome or strained. And while this is a common issue for teenagers and adults alike, it's important to also include positive relationships with parents, particularly for young women, their mothers. Books focused on teenagers in the YA genre are often inspired by coming-of-age stories about first encounters with life's biggest issues, whether it's love, friendship, school, or any other first. And when it comes to these biggest issues, a mother-daughter relationship, whether it's positive or negative, existent or non-existent, are strong influences.
These seven young adult novels are just a few examples of YA novels have mother-daughter relationships in all different stages and from all different angles.
1. Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia
Lemon's mother, Stella, wasn't exactly maternal, in Kristen-Paige Madonia's novel Fingerprints of You . Stella was always drinking and always had a new boyfriend, which always went wrong, uprooting Lemon over and over again. But Lemon is forced to come to terms with the idea of being a mother when she herself becomes pregnant, and she is determined to figure out what kind of mother she is going to be.
2. Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata
Shelby and her three sisters haven't had the most traditional childhood. Their mother Helen Kimura had them each with a different man, all over the country. But when you're ready to write this novel off as judgmental, Cynthia Kadohata presents Helen as confident and fearless, and she lives her life on her own terms. So dispite how the outside world might see her, Helen is a role model for her daughters after all.
3. Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers
Any modern-day mother and daughter can relate to Alice Kuipers' Claire and her hardworking obstetrician and single mother. The haunting novel is told via notes the women write to each other as they pass like ships in the night through each other's lives as circumstances draw them apart.
4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Kat, Mia's mother in Gayle Forman's If I Stay , used to be a punk rocker before she settled down and had a family. She's so incredibly supportive and understanding of Mia, remembering what it was like when she herself was a teenager. And this means that If I Stay has a truly positive relationship between the teenage protagonist and her feminist mother, which is not as common as it should be in YA.
5. The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
Devan keeps a list about all the things she knows about Reece Malcolm, a young famous author. And one of the final things on that list is that Reece is Devan's mother, whom she never met. But when her dad dies, 16-year-old Devan moves in with her estranged mother and she and Reece get a chance to have the relationship they never had before.
6. The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty
In Reagan-era Kansas, 10-year-old Evelyn Bucknow lives with her single mother, a pariah of the times, even by her parents, Evelyn's grandparents. Because of this, Evelyn and Tina's relationship is wrought with issues. But Laura Moriarty handles this well-trod area was grace and sees the mother-daughter relationship as an evolving one, as Evelyn starts to grow more faith in her mother.
7. For Keeps by Natasha Friend
Josie narrates Natasha Friend's novel, but her Kate is an incredibly well-rounded character, not a cardboard cut-out that some teenage novels make parents. And while Josie and Kate are very close, events that unfold help Josie understand that Kate isn't just her best friend or her mother, she's a real human person with her own troubles, her own mistakes, and her own regrets.
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