Want to get a quick emotional reaction out of someone? Ask them about their mother. In teen books, it's rare to find complex mom characters that feel like real people, as opposed to stereotypes like the wicked stepmother. Here are a few of my favorite mom characters captured on the page.
In With the Fire on High, Elizabeth Acevedo creates a unicorn of a main character: a teen mom whose whole story doesn't revolve around getting pregnant. Emoni loves her daughter and takes full responsibility for her, but she's also busy finishing high school, figuring out how to start her career as a chef and dating a fellow culinary student.
Another multi-layered mom is Nina's mother in What Girls Are Made of. She drinks too much, she's stuck in an unhealthy marriage and and she tells Nina that unconditional love doesn't exist. Yikes. But Nina learns that her mom's negative attitude comes from her deep unhappiness about tragic events in her life.
Mei's mother in American Panda also gives harsh advice, but at least she delivers it in hilarious Mandarin catchphrases. Mei just wants to successfully compete her first year at MIT, but her mom critiques her appearance, her diet and her choice of boyfriends. Like Nina, Mei discovers that her mom's heartbreaking past has shaped her cynical view of the world, and they start to share their feelings more honestly.
I think all of these fictional moms need a hug.
Who's your favorite memorable mom in teen fiction?