Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Things relating to Mother’s Day (it’s a freebie kinda theme week!) So I went with Mother(ly) Figures in YA Lit.
Because not everyone is a mom who is in the mom role in a book. So it could be a grandmother, an adoptive mother, etc. I find a lot of current lit has a remarkable absence of parental figures for many reasons. Which is empowering for the kids, but also a bit startling. (That’s a topic for another day.)
Anyway, off we go!
- Lily Potter from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – because even though she died young and tragically, she made an incredible difference in the world both before and after death. And she gave Harry the greatest gift of all – LOVE!
- Marilla Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables – because even though she had no children of her own, Green Gables does not function without Marilla, and Anne would be even less grounded without her wisdom and lessons. And because I think being an adoptive parent is one of the most beautiful and selfless things in the world, even if they didn’t originally want a girl!
- Natalie Prior from Divergent – because she knows what her children need, especially Tris. She is supportive and yet also reveals tiny details about herself at just the right time to help Tris realize who her mother is and was as a person. She is selfless and brave and kind, and something that all of the people in that world should want to be.
- Marmee from Little Women – because she is the very definition of a classical mother like character, and yet also slightly radical for the time period. She has a big heart and does the best she can to guide her many daughters to achieve their dreams.
- Kat from If I Stay – because she has lived life and has a great understanding of her daughter Mia. It’s an interesting mother-daughter bond that I feel like we need to see more of in YA lit.
- Kate from For Keeps – because she and her daughter, Josie, are best friends. A lot of people compare this to Gilmore Girls, which is one of my favorite shows of all time. Which means I’m about to jump ship with the next one…
- Lorelai from Gilmore Girls – because it’s Lorelai and Rory and they are everything. And Rory is obsessed with books, and ultimately writes a book called Gilmore Girls, so this is almost sort of a thing that fits in this list… right? Okay, it doesn’t, but it’s my list and I will make it fit. Plus my grandmother’s name was Lorelei, so it’s near and dear to my heart for that reason too. COPPER BOOM!
- Grandmother from The Love That Split the World – because she is a guiding spirit for Natalie, and even though Natalie has a good mother too, Grandmother is the one that sends her on her journey to save the mysterious boy before it is too late. I found her to be a thought provoking presence in Natalie’s life, simultaneously comforting and eerie. (Such a good contemporary/magical realism book!)
- Renee and Esme from Twilight – I know, I know. It’s Twilight. But love it or hate it, there are interesting parent figures in these books. And the moms are no exception. Bella’s mom Renee is a bit of a wild card, making Bella question whether or not she is the type to settle down, but also realizing how different she is from her mom as she had to be the mature one in their relationship. Esme is another adoptive mom situation, regardless of the fact that she is a vampire, she is caring and loving of all of the Cullens and Bella.
- Helen Thermopolis and Clarice Rinaldi from The Princess Diaries – Mia grew up very close to her artist mother, and while Helen vaguely reminds me of Renee (Twilight), it’s in a much different way. Helen is mature and supportive of her daughter and the decisions that her daughter must face, repeatedly. Clarice, likewise, is a motherly figure that guides (sometimes stubbornly) and enables Mia to make decisions, while also acting as a sort of supreme role model.
- BONUS: Mary Poppins from… Mary Poppins of course! She needs no explanation. After all, she’s practically perfect in every way. She may not be a mom, but she is a nanny, and she is responsible for raising children properly (er, mostly properly?)
That’s all for this week! Honestly, I’m sure there are many more mothers in YA and childrens lit that could fill out this list. Who would you add?
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!