In honor of Mother’s Day, let’s take a look at two different mothers in the world of fiction.
In The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, follow the Shepherd family through multiple decades of the African-American Great Migration. Starting with the death of her newborn twins, each of Hattie’s children has a chapter in this novel and they all have a lot to say- about being human, about America, but most of all, they have a lot to say about their mother. Ayana Mathis gives each character a haunting back story that always leads to Hattie. This debut novel from Mathis is not a celebration of motherhood, but more about the hard decisions mothers have to make. In Substitute Me by Lori L. Tharps, meet our modern-day mother Kate Carter. Kate tries to have it all: motherhood, a great marriage, and an ambitious career. She finally figures out that she is going to need help, so she hires Zora Anderson, a 30-year-old, college-educated, African-American woman who needs a job. It may sound like a plot to a new chick-lit novel, but Tharps sneaks in some serious comments about juggling motherhood and work. How do you stay connected to your job when you have a baby that spends more time with the nanny than with you? As Kate struggles with this, Zora hides that she is working as a nanny from her bourgeoisie parents who think that since she has a college degree, she “shouldn’t be working for white folks.” Packed with race relation issues as well as real-life tensions, Lori L. Tharps has written a brilliant work of contemporary women’s fiction.