Skip to main content

Happy Mother's Day! The Teen Board Talks Memorable Moms in Books

Teen Board Monthly Question

Happy Mother's Day! The Teen Board Talks Memorable Moms in Books

In the middle of May, we celebrate Mother's Day! There are so many great moms in the world, both in real life and in literature, so we asked our Teen Board what books they have read that feature a particularly memorable mom, whether because she seemed wonderful, terrible, unique or hilarious. Read their answers below!

One of the most memorable literary mothers is Mrs. Wormwood from MATILDA by Roald Dahl.  Mrs. Wormwood is a rude and vain woman who completely ignores her daughter.  She hates education and books, and her only redeeming quality is that she is not quite as terrible as her husband.  Because Mrs. Wormwood is such an uncaring mother, her daughter, Matilda, turns to another mother figure at the end of the book.
-- Rachel B.

One mother who stands out to me is Elena Vilkas of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY. (In case you haven't read it, it's the heartwrenching story of a Lithuanian family at the beginning of World War II who was deported to Siberian prison labor camps when the USSR annexes the Baltic Region. The novel, while fictional, is based on the tragically true stories of hundreds of innocent Lithuanians.) Conditions are terrible: lice, starvation, inhumanity, and freezing winters that threaten death. Yet in the midst of these horrible events, Elena Vilkas is always faithful, tender, and understanding. She is separated from her husband, but she doesn't let her grief over all she has lost overwhelm her. She leads the deportees and helps them band together in the face of Soviet cruelty. Often giving up her own bread rations, Elena Vilkas supports and encourages her two children. Even when others fail or retract to baser instinct, Mrs. Vilkas doesn't give up on them, kindly caring for them and looking past their actions to their reasons. In all this, she is not unbelievable or farfetched. She's real --- wonderfully real. In some of the worst conditions humanity has seen, Elena Vilkas holds true to what a mother is.
-- Mary M.

One book series with a particularly memorable mother would be The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter. These books have been a staple of my childhood (even now I still find myself rereading them!) and that is mainly attributed to Cammie's mom. Cammie and her mother have such a strong relationship, and her mother loves and is willing to fight for her daughter no matter what. It's extremely touching to read!
-- Kate F.

MATILDA by Roald Dahl, is one of my favorite childhood pieces of literature and certainly places an emphasis on the role of mothers in life. Dahl writes about Matilda's own dimwitted mother, who fails to see the genius in her daughter. He describes the malicious Miss Trunchbull as the surrogate mother of Matilda's teacher Miss Honey, and crafts an abusive relationship between the two. Miss Honey then becomes a mother-figure to Matilda, and treats her with the warmth and love that all mothers should show their children. By writing about evil mothers (Matilda's mom and Miss Trenchbull) as well as virtuous ones (Miss Honey), Dahl shows contrast between the types of relationships that children share with their mothers. I certainly remember my own mother (who is on the Miss Honey side of the mother scale) reading MATILDA to me as a childhood classic, and for that reason the book has also served to bring together mothers and children in "real life" everywhere since it was published in 1988.
-- Cadyn D.

One standout example is Caymen's mom from THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US by Katie West. She is an example of all moms in this world: quiet, caring, loving, protective and overall wonderful. She sacrifices her life to do what's best for her child. She's willing to leave her rich life behind to protect Caymen from going down the same path that she did. The way she talks and acts makes me think about my mom and everything she has done for me.
--Thanh Tu N.

Although she isn't my favorite mom in a YA book, she is the one that was most memorable: Annabel, Lena's mom in the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver. The main reason why I remember her is because of how unmotherly she seemed to me. Some may say that Annabel had reasons for doing what she did and (without spoiling too much) abandoning her daughter. In the last book in the series, REQUIEM, Annabel seemed to be very distant from her daughter. It didn't seem like she wanted to make things better with Lena. Their relationship just didn't feel like a mother-daughter relationship at all, and that is why I will probably remember Annabel for a long time.
-- Pranshu A.

The books that I love that feature moms are the ones in the Mother Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick. This series is awesome because it is about a group of moms and daughters who are friends despite the differences between them. They are equally relatable for parents and daughters no matter what their background.
-- Lexi Bex V.

I'll never forget Amanda Wingfield from Tennessee Williams' THE GLASS MENAGERIE; even when the harsh realities of mid-century New York City leave this former Southern belle struggling to make ends meet, she refuses to relinquish her dreams of returned prosperity and social redemption. Although Amanda's stubborn delusions drive her son, Tom, insane --- and result in an incredibly awkward blind date for her daughter Laura --- I can't help but admire her perseverance, her fierce optimism and her refusal to settle for anything less than her ideal.
-- Alison S.

This is kind of a weird one, but when I was younger I was really into the Little House on the Prairie series. As soon as I read the prompt I immediately thought of Ma Ingalls, probably because she reminds me of my own mom in some ways. Ma was such a strong woman through many hardships. These included an insanely long winter on the prairie, an illness that left her daughter blind and being uprooted from the family's home several times. Ma didn't like living on the frontier nearly as much as her husband, but she always stood by him. Ma also worked tirelessly to raise her daughters to have impeccable manners and be ladylike. She succeeded in this and most everything else due to her extreme courage and determination.
-- Charlotte J.

WALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech features a mom that stands out as a very unique character. We learn about her kindness and compassion through her daughters' stories. This mother's story did not end well, but she has made a lasting impact on me long after I finished the book.
-- Aliza M.