Mom’s the Word

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. As you take some time to think about your mom and all of the great things she did for you over the years, consider peeking into the lives of some literary (and cinematic) mamas that run the gamut from inspirational to downright terrifying. Some of these families will warm the cockles of your heart. Others will chill you right to the bone. Either way, they are all fabulous reads and flicks. Enjoy!

1. The Joy Luck Club – This 1989 best-selling novel by Amy Tan focuses on four Chinese American families from our very own San Francisco. Three mothers and four daughters share stories from their lives in little vignettes. Check out either the novel or the 1993 film adaptation.

2. Mamma Mia – In 1975, ABBA wrote the song. In 1999 it became a smash hit musical.  In 2008 it was turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep, and the rest is history. The plot centers on single mom Donna, her bride-to-be daughter Sophie, and the three former flames that could all be Sophie’s father. Madness ensues and Streep sparkles, as per usual. Check it out here.

3. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya SisterhoodYa-Ya Sisterhood is the 1996 New York Times best seller from Rebecca Wells, recounting the strained relationship between play director Sidda and her mother. The immense popularity of the book spawned a 2002 film of the same name starring Ellen Burstyn and Sandra Bullock. Check out the book or the movie here. Ya-Ya!

4. Steel Magnolias – Originally produced in 1987 as a stage play before being adapted to the big screen in 1989, Steel Magnolias depicts the bond among a small group of women from Natchitoches, Louisiana. The all-star cast is led by Sally Fields, who finds herself struggling over the sudden death of her daughter Shelby, (Julia Roberts). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but only if you check out the script or movie.

5. Gypsy – What Mother’s Day list would be complete without honoring Mama Rose, the most overbearing stage mom of them all? Rose has been performed on stage by the likes of Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters and Patti Lupone. The 1962 film of the smash Broadway musical starred Rosalind Russel. We also suggest checking out the book that started it all, Gypsy Rose Lee’s Gypsy: a Memoir.

6. The Bad Seed – Many are familiar with the spooky 1956 cult classic that turned a pig-tailed, 10 year old named Rhoda Penmark (played by Patty McCormack)into an icon of evil. In The Bad Seed, mother Christine Penmark makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect her only child, the deliciously sadistic little Rhoda. If you have only seen the movie we also suggest the original 1954 novel, which boasts a far creepier ending.

7. Mommie Dearest – We couldn’t resist. Originally published in 1978 by Christina Crawford as a memoir and exposé about her adoptive and often cruel mother Joan, it’s the campy 1981 film version, (starring a horrific Faye Dunaway) that we all know best. Thanks to bitter family tensions, Christina’s scandalous memoir has endured as the ultimate homage to questionable parenting. And always remember: no wire hangers!

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