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  • Nicole Hill 4:00 pm on 2019/04/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , love medicine series, , , , thank you mom, , the house of the spirits, the joy luck club, ,   

    The 10 Best Moms in Fiction 

    There are lots of lists out there about literature’s worst mothers. The Mrs. Bennets of the world seem to suck up all the oxygen. (Something with which Elizabeth Bennet likely would agree.) But what of fiction’s fine motherly figures? What of those who try their best to do right by their children—whether they gave birth to them or not? The following ten characters, while never perfect, prove the virtues of motherhood in all its messy, complicated, astounding glory.

    Molly Weasley
    Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling

    Where else to start but with the harried matriarch of the unruly Weasley brood? A mother of seven and the wife of a moony Muggle enthusiast, Molly keeps her household running and her children awash in fine knitwear—and she still takes time to lavish the same maternal affection (and sometimes consternation) on her children’s wayward friends. She’s the unsung hero of the Order of the Phoenix whose bravery caused me (and all of you) to cheer aloud when she faced off with Bellatrix Lestrange.

    Mrs. Murry
    A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

    Mr. Murry often gets the credit for being brilliant, but Katherine Murry is an accomplished microbiologist whose professional accomplishments do not get her sucked through the space-time continuum. With her husband gone missing for years, Mrs. Murry keeps her family together, even the strange genius who is her youngest son. Meg leaves her mother behind as she goes on her tesseract adventures, but my secret hope always has been there’s an unwritten epilogue out there where Kate Murry gets to go on a vacation.

    Lulu Nanapush
    Love Medicine series, by Louise Erdrich

    Lulu is not a perfect woman or mother, but life hasn’t exactly treated her, or the Ojibwe reservation she calls home, with the utmost kindness. She encapsulates the challenges of both mother- and womanhood. We’re introduced to her in Love Medicine, in which she’s entangled in a decades-long love triangle with the man she’s always loved and the woman he married. In a story, and series, that spans generations, we see Lulu move on to other relationships and amass a family of nine children in the process. All the while, she’s remarkably unabashed in her strength and independence.

    Lisa Carter
    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

    The Carters are a modern fictional family, and Lisa is the glue that holds them together. Lisa got pregnant as a teenager and dealt with her mother’s rejection. A nurse, she raised her children, Starr and Sekani, to be strong and well-aware of the racial injustice of their neighborhood and the world they live in. She’s forged a strong marriage despite her husband’s incarceration and affair, and she treats Seven, the product of that affair, with love. The Hate U Give is a story of strength in the face of adversity, and Lisa is one of the strongest characters in Garden Heights.

    Margaret March
    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

    Raising four daughters on your own in the middle of the Civil War and your own dire financial situation would be enough to crumple anybody’s spirits. But Marmee not only carries on, she does so with aplomb. The anti-Mrs. Bennet, Marmee puts her focus on treating her daughters with love and kindness and providing an example of how they should apply those same qualities to their own interactions with others. She’s no shallow perfect character either; her charity and compassion ring true, even 150 years later.

    Miss Honey
    Matilda, by Roald Dahl

    Look, mothers come in all packages, and Jennifer Honey proves to be more of a mom to whiz-kid Matilda than her biological mother ever was. As Matilda’s teacher, she’s the first person truly to recognize the unbelievable talents of a small, neglected girl. Not only does she encourage her, Miss Honey fights for her, too. (And Matilda returns the favor in spades thanks to her telekinesis, the oldest trick in the book.) Their shared happy ending makes them an adoptive family, but Miss Honey was a mother to Matilda way before those final pages.

    Suyuan Woo, An-Mei Hsu, Lindo Jong, and Ying-Ying St. Clair
    The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

    The relationships between mothers and daughters are never simple and rarely conflict-free. The beauty is in the way those bonds, when strong, are able to mend any tear. The four Chinese immigrants who get together each week to play mahjong in this novel, and the four daughters they raise, are perfect examples of this simultaneous tenderness and turbulence. In a story spanning 40 years, we see it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And still there is mahjong, and gossip, and storytelling, and the stitching together of generations.

    Lilith Iyapo
    Dawn, by Octavia Butler

    Lilith did have a biological son before the start of this novel, but her place on this list is because of a slightly different role she’s tasked with playing: mother to a new species. You see, Lilith is one of the few survivors of an Earth apocalypse, one human saved from extinction by an alien species. For centuries, Lilith and the other remaining humans have been asleep and their rescuers have worked to rehab Earth. Now, the Oankali, a, let’s say, tentacle-forward race, are ready to repopulate the planet … together … with humans. (You know.)

    Clara del Valle Trueba
    The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende

    In a sweeping story of family history, Clara is an otherworldly focal point. Her innate clairvoyance blossoms into broader abilities as she matures, abilities intimately tied to the fate of her family through the decades. In a story aswirl with chaos and trauma, Clara is a calming center, protective of her children, particularly when it comes to her volatile husband. Her presence imbues every aspect of the life of the Truebas, even after her death. Sometimes her powers make her dreamy and distanced, but her heart’s in the right place and she grows into her starring role.

    The Aunts
    Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

    Again, circumstances beyond biology can forge some of the greatest mothers. The Owens family is decidedly non-traditional: two aunts raising two nieces, all witches. Also, there’s that whole family curse that spells doom for the unfortunate man who might fall in love with any Owens woman. While the hijinks that occur in Practical Magic may make you wonder about supervision Sally and Gillian’s aunts provide, their enduring encouragement to embrace the weird and witchy—and to give zero flips about what anyone else thinks—is an inspiration.

    The post The 10 Best Moms in Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham 3:30 pm on 2014/08/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , kiss the girls, , , the joy luck club, the simpsons, ,   

    The Top 5 Author Cameos on The Simpsons 

    The Simpsons and PhilosophyThere’s no TV show quite as quoted or as quotable as The Simpsons, the evergreen Fox animated sitcom that’s been on television since George Bush was president (no, the other one). Though my wife rarely appreciates my perfectly timed Mr. Burns bon mots, there are a whole lot of us who could probably converse for an entire day in nothing but Simpsons quotes.

    The show is especially beloved by those with nerdish…leanings, as over the past few decades it has become the hotspot for cameo appearances by a host of famous authors. For all we know, Thomas Pynchon hasn’t left his bathrobe since 1971, but he’s been on The Simpsons twice, albeit with an animated paper bag over his head (he even blurbed Marge’s book: “Thomas Pynchon loved this book almost as much as he loves cameras!”). Thanks to Lisa Simpson, I knew Gore Vidal’s name long before I knew who Gore Vidal was (“These are my friends! Grown-up nerds like Gore Vidal, and even he’s kissed more boys than I ever will!”)

    In honor of the FXX Network’s ongoing 12-day marathon of every. Episode. Ever (all 552 of ‘em), which kicked off yesterday, I present to you the top 5 author cameos in the show’s storied history. (Excluding Pynchon, because landing not one, but two appearances by the world’s most reclusive author is hard to top.)

    5. J.K. Rowling (Episode: The Regina Monologues, Season 15)
    At the height of Potter-mania, Harry Potter’s creator made a memorable appearance in an episode in which the Simpson family travels to England on vacation. Lisa asks her what will happen at the end of the series, to which the exasperated author responds, “He grows up and marries you. Is that what you want to hear?” Lisa: “[sigh] Yes!”

    4. James Patterson (Episode: Yokel Chords, Season 18)
    From the few glimpses we’ve gotten, Marge Simpsons has a deeply weird fantasy life, a fact that was never so clear as the time she fell asleep on the beach reading Kiss the Girls and had a sexy dream about James Patterson riding in on a white steed to sweep her away. (“Come with me, Marge. Help me think of new nursery rhyme-themed titles for my thrillers.”)

    3. Amy Tan (Episode: Insane Clown Poppy, Season 12)
    The Springfield Festival of Books manages to attract some pretty big-name authors, including Stephen King and Maya Angelou (who recites a poem about a B-2 bomber for some reason), but my favorite bit in this cameo-heavy outing involves Amy Tan’s reaction to Lisa’s interpretation of The Joy Luck Club (“No, that’s not what I meant at all. You couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. Please just sit down. I’m embarrassed for both of us.”).

    2. Michael Chabon vs. Jonathan Franzen (Moe’N'a Lisa, Season 18)
    Chabon: You can’t make this stuff up.
    Franzen: Maybe you can’t.
    Chabon: That’s it, Franzen! I think your nose needs some Corrections!
    [They fight]

    1. Neil Gaiman (Episode: The Book Job, Season 23)
    In an entire episode devoted to parodying the trends in the new industry of YA mega-hits like Harry Potter and Twilight, Gaiman steals the show, literally, and wins the award for least self-aggrandizing cameo appearance ever in the bargain. Homer and his friends collaborate on a surefire-hit YA novel about magical trolls, and Gaiman agrees to help them write it (though mostly they let him pick up the sandwiches). At the end of an Ocean’s 11-style caper that involves rescuing the manuscript for The Troll Twins of Underbridge Academy from the unscrupulous publisher, it is revealed that Gaiman has absconded with the only copy and published it under his own name, winning yet another literary award despite the fact that he is illiterate.

    What’s your favorite Simpsons literary reference?

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