A New Novel Offers Literary Mothers a Feminist Alternative

A New Novel Offers Literary Mothers a Feminist Alternative

Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash Electric Literature recently launched a new creative program, and received 500 submissions in just 36 hours! Now we need your help to grow our team, carefully and efficiently review submitted work, and further establish EL as a home for artful and urgent nonfiction. We've set a goal of raising $10,000 by the end of June. We're almost there! Please give what you can today . My mother has read hundreds of books aloud to me. The titles changed over the course of my childhood—as my brother and I graduated from picture books to doorstopper paperbacks, fantasy to historical , middle grade to angsty young adult novels—but we could always count on our mom to do one thing: cry if a fictional mother went missing. If she began to suspect that a mother was going to die, disappear, or otherwise become separated from her children, she would choke up, stop reading, and flip to the back of the book to see if the characters would be reunited in the end. The crying drove me and my brother absolutely nuts. “It's just a ,” we would inform our mother impatiently. We made faces and covered our eyes and sometimes rolled on the ground to indicate the scorn we felt for behavior this corny. If the insult cheugy had existed in the early 2000s, we would have leveled it at her. This scene played out in my bedroom many, many times because many, many books for young readers rely on a mother's disappearance to kickstart the plot. Grimms' Fairy Tales , whose conventions inform so much of modern literature, often contrast an absent, kind mother with a present, evil stepmother. In Harry Potter , the Chosen One's mother (and, in all fairness, his father) die within paragraphs of the series' beginning. The Dear America novels, a beloved series of fictional journals “authored” by teenage girls from different historical eras, sentences mothers to occasionally cartoonish fates: In Seeds of Hope , a rogue wave literally drags the protagonist's mother off the deck of a ship […]

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