Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
August, 2009

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From short stories, to family love, to self-awareness, there is something here for your end-of-summer reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Ezine Co-Editor Jessica DeVoe Riley, writes, "I'm reading Mrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy Winn, a newly released collection of short stories that follows the lives of mill town workers in Lowell, Massachusetts during the years following World War II. Winn tells heartrending stories of class, gender, and familial struggle within the framework of the life and death cycle of an American mill town. Beautiful characters, beautiful setting, beautiful social commentary. Just beautiful."

Cassie Premo Steele, Columnist, Birthing the Mother Writer, shares, "Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan is a riveting new novel about 4 college friends at Smith and their post-graduation years. I was given an advance review copy by a writing client and I devoured it. As the stepmother to a rising college senior, I was drawn in by the adept handling of issues such as coming out, the legacies of feminist mothering, the choices of career vs. marriage, and the love stories. But I also found myself reflecting on my own choices-- which were not always choices but pulls of the heart-- over the course of my life. I gave the novel to my stepdaughter, who also found it riveting-- and then who passed it along to her mother to read. Believe-you-me, Mamas, this book will be the hit of the summer!"

Kristina Riggle, Fiction Co-Editor, says, "I'm reading Beachcombing by Maggie Dana. The author is British by birth and American by choice, and her wonderful 'coming of middle age' novel has one foot in each country and in two times: protagonist Jillian Hunter's youth in Wickham Forge, when she was madly in crush with Colin Carpenter, and the present day, when the love of Jillian's young life reappears. Jillian throws her professional life into turmoil and jeopardizes friendships for a second chance with Colin, but is he still the sweet boy she remembers? Evocative settings and engaging characters make this such an enjoyable read."

Columns Co-editor, C. Delia Scarpitti, writes, "I am reading Alice Hoffman's latest novel, The Story Sisters. This dark and lush portrait of three sisters, Elv, Claire and Meg, explores the intricate bonds of sisterhood and the dark side of the female "coming of age" story. Cut with fairytale myth and imagination, this novel is a shadowed portrait of familial ties that cannot be undone."

Caroline Grant, Editor-in-Chief and Columnist, writes, "I adored Real Life & Liars, the first novel by Literary Mama's fiction co-editor, Kristina Riggle. The novel takes place over the course of a weekend, when Mira Zielinski's three grown children come home to celebrate their parents' wedding anniversary. I loved all the characters, from the knowing but flawed Mira, her distracted novelist husband Max, and then their three kids: Katya, a suburban mother of three who, as Mira puts it, 'drags [her younger siblings] along under the wheels of her train'; Ivan, a struggling songwriter who can't see the love that's right in front of him; and Irina, who is accidentally (reluctantly) pregnant and married to a man who isn't going to let her screw it up. They are vivid and engaging, and the writing is terrific; I kept stopping to reread sentences, letting the images sink in, and to wonder, with pleasure and admiration, how did she think of that!?"

Heather Cori, Columnist, writes, "My women’s Compass Group just finished Loving What Is by Byron Katie. It is a practical companion to other favorites of ours including Steering by Starlight by Martha Beck. Loving What Is calls us to use four simple questions to investigate our thinking and our underlying beliefs, something Katie has called 'the work.' The work comes to life through vignettes between Katie and audience members who dialogue using the inquiry method. As part of our work in reading this, the four of us applied the questions to our own struggles from the woman friend who pushes our buttons to issues with our mothers to deeply rooted fears. What we found in common, in big and small ways, was freedom from our thinking and more awareness to be in the moment and love what is!"

Creative Nonfiction Co-Editor and Columnist, Susan Ito, shares, "I just finished reading Jane Jeong Trenka's (second) excruciatingly beautiful memoir, Fugitive Visions. She is an adult Korean adoptee who returned to Korea to live. It's one of the most gorgeous, lyrical and searing books I've read in a very long time."

Suzanne Kamata, Fiction Co-Editor, has just embarked on The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire by C.M. Mayo."This is a lush, sprawling novel about the reign of Emperor Maximilian (of the Hapsburgs) in Mexico. The prince of the title is the son of an American mother and Mexican father, taken into custody by the childless Maxmilian, who needs an heir. Later, the boy's parents decided that they want their son back. I'm finding myself a bit embarrassed at how little I know about Mexican history. But no matter. Thanks to Mayo's meticulous research and delightful prose, I am enjoying learning about this odd episode in North American history."

Christina Marie Speed writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, including Caper Journal, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Online, and The View From Here. She lives with her husband and two sons in a sunny fourth-floor walkup in Brooklyn, New York.

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