15 Books To Help You Sort Out Your Feelings About Motherhood

by Kerri Jarema

It's spring, which means that Mother's Day is coming. This holiday can be highly emotional for many people for all different reasons, and can also spark important conversations about grief, love, longing, women's reproductive rights, infertility, adoption, and so much more. If you want to use this day as an opportunity to open up these crucial discussions with the people in your own life — mothers and mother-figures, mothers who have lost their children, children who are missing their mothers, those who are struggling to become mothers, or women who are wondering whether motherhood is meant for them — you're going to want to take a look at the 15 books about motherhood below.

All of these novels, short story collections and nonfiction books were released in the last 12 months, and each examines the many facets of motherhood including postpartum depression, adoption and foster care, loss and grief, and the physical act of giving birth. They each dissect the challenges, complexities, and joys of modern motherhood; these are not saccharine tales of perfectly poised, apron-clad women who have dinner on the table at 5 o'clock every night. These books are raw, funny, relatable, dark, hopeful tales that would make the perfect Mother's Day gift, book club read, or introduction to the world of motherhood:

'Look At How Happy I'm Making You' by Polly Rosenwaike

Polly Rosenwaike's short stories center on women who want to be mothers, aren't sure they want to be mothers, or —having recently given birth — are overwhelmed by new motherhood. This one is perfect for book clubs.

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'I Miss You When I Blink' by Mary Laura Philpott

Mary Laura Philpott's essay collection explores what happens when she, a mother, wife, and writer, realizes that her "picture perfect" life isn't as fulfilling as she thought it would be.

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'What My Mother and I Don't Talk About' edited by Michele Filgate

This anthology features the writing of 15 different authors — including Carmen Maria Machado and Leslie Jamison — all of whom write candidly about their unique relationships with their mothers.

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'We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood' by Dani McClain

In We Live for the We, Dani McClain interviews other mothers and experts about the unique challenges and joys of black motherhood.

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'The Risk Of Us' by Rachel Howard

The Risk of Us explores the cost of motherhood through the story of a 40-something woman who adopts a seven-year-old girl and learns that motherhood isn't the dreamy experience she imagined it would be.

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'You Are Always With Me: Letters to Mama' by Frida Kahlo

Observe and explore the sometimes-fraught, always-lively relationship between Frida Kahlo and her mother Matilde Calderon Kahlo through these 50 letters.

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'Where Reasons End' by Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li's heartbreaking novel centers on a conversation between a mother and the teenage son she lost to suicide. This is a painful book (one inspired by Li's experience losing her own son) but it's also one that can spark important discussions about grief, mental health, and more.

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'And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready' by Meaghan O'Connell

Meaghan O'Connell's memoir is an honest exploration of her experience becoming a mom when she didn't even really feel like an adult yet. It's relatable and funny, and might just make you feel better about how ready (or not) you feel about becoming a mom one day.

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'All You Can Ever Know' by Nicole Chung

In her moving memoir, Nicole Chung writes about her experience being raised by a white family in Oregon after being placed for adoption by Korean parents. This book is sure to lead to important conversations about adoption, race, and the meaning of family.

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'Motherhood' by Sheila Heti

In her semi-autobiographical novel, Sheila Heti asks asks what is gained and what is lost when a woman becomes a mother as she nears her early 40's.

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'Things That Helped: On Postpartum Depression' by Jessica Friedmann

In this essay collection, Jessica Friedmann navigates her complex journey through postpartum depression after the birth of her son. This book challenges the idea of motherhood being immediately beautiful and satisfying.

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'Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood' by Molly Caro May

In Body Full of Stars, Molly Caro May grapples with questions of love, grief, and healing as she undergoes several unexpected health issues after the birth of her first child.

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'The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls' by Anissa Gray

Anissa Gray's novel about mothers and daughters, identity and family follows the three Butler sisters after the eldest is arrested and the others must care for the teenage daughters she left behind.

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'Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy' by Angela Garbes

Like A Mother is a modern deep-dive into the science and culture of pregnancy and early motherhood that attempts to debunk myths and dated assumptions.

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'Joy Enough: A Memoir' by Sarah McColl

Sarah McColl mines memories of her beloved mother, sifting through both her mother's death and the ending of her young marriage.

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