Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Essential Reading: Literary Mama Books

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This month, we celebrate the works of our talented Literary Mama editors. Enjoy!

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

Cassie Premo Steele's Shamrock and Lotus is a compelling novel that intertwines the stories of people from Ireland, India, and America, their lives touched by the untold stories of global immigration. Claire is the American wife of an executive in the World Bank, living in Dublin during the economic boom times. Brigid is a single Irish woman who, after spending most of her adult live working as a midwife on Native American reservations, is now returning home to Ireland. Padmaj is a man, originally from India and now an Irish citizen, who owns a restaurant in Dublin. As they connect with each other across cultural differences and learn to face their histories of violence and immigration with honesty and love, they learn that all people share common dreams of a renewed world. Check out a review of Shamrock and Lotus on Literary Mama!

Is the life you're living all you imagined? Have you ever asked yourself, "What if??" Here, four women face the decisions of their lifetimes in this stirring and unforgettable novel of love, loss, friendship, and family. Anna Geneva, a Chicago attorney coping with the death of a cherished friend, returns to her "speck on the map" hometown of Haven to finally come to terms with her mother, the man she left behind, and the road she did not take. Cami Drayton, Anna's dearest friend from high school, is coming home too, forced by circumstance to move in with her alcoholic father . . . and to confront a dark family secret. Maeve, Anna's mother, never left Haven, firmly rooted there by her sadness over her abandonment by the husband she desperately loved and the hope that someday he will return to her. And Amy Rickart--thin, beautiful, and striving for perfection--faces a future with the perfect man . . . but is haunted by the memory of what she used to be. Kristina Riggle's The Life You've Imagined takes a provocative look at the choices we make -- and the courage we must have to change. Take a look at Literary Mama Reviews for a review of Kristina's latest novel.

Exploring the vital connection between motherhood and social change, The Maternal is Political, edited by Shari MacDonald Strong, features forty-four powerful, hard-hitting literary essays by women who are striving to make the world a better place for children and families--both their own and other women's -- in this country and globally.

Mama PhD, edited by Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant, offers a series of lively personal essays from women who share varied experiences of being both mothers and academics, from struggling to keep down morning sickness while lecturing to a room full of students, to writing a dissertation while caring for a child with special needs, to negotiating viable maternity and family leave policies.

Vicki Forman gave birth to Evan and Ellie at twenty-three weeks gestation and weighing just a pound at birth. During the delivery, she begged the doctors to "let her babies go" -- she knew all too well that at twenty three weeks they could very well die, and if they survived, they would face a high risk of permanent disabilities. However, California law demanded resuscitation. Her daughter died just four days later; her son survived and was indeed multiply-disabled. Winner of the PEN Center Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference Bakeless Prize in Creative Nonfiction, This Lovely Life tells, with brilliant intensity, of what became of the Forman family after the birth of the twins-the harrowing medical interventions, ethical considerations involving the sanctity of life and death.

Suzanne Kamata's The Beautiful One Has Come is a collection of twelve stories about expatriates in Japan, Cuba, France and Australia. These stories cross countries and cultures while exploring universal matters of the heart. The Beautiful One Has Come is about a young Japanese woman who nurtures an obsession with Nefertiti -- with tragic results. In "Polishing the Halo," an American mother in Japan grapples with news of her daughter's disability while in "Mandala," an eccentric Japanese doctor provides an unlikely haven for a newly divorced expat.

Sharon Kraus's book of poetry, Generation, maps the survival of a traumatic childhood in. Kraus masters the toxic fall-out of abusive experiences by rendering them fiercely meaningful, almost as a dance or a biblical drama. It is an American life more terrible than we are accustomed to seeing, but one that reveals unexpected complexity in the world of K-marts and bowling alleys, a vision that tolerates contradictions that will never be resolved.

Katie de Iongh lives in Rye, New Hampshire with her husband and their three young children. She is a community volunteer, freelance writer and college English instructor.

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