Motherhood in Books: Mothering in Tough Times

A thousand splendid suns, the end we started from and wild Swans book images

Motherhood is pretty tough for most people, but what if you were living in tough circumstances too? These 5 books explore how mothers cope when life is anything but straightforward. From real world problems like war and politics to unimaginable post apocalyptic worlds, these are high drama books that will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you grateful for the life you have.


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Houssani 

A thousand Splendid Suns is set in Afghanistan. Mariam’s life is hard and often frightening and dangerous. Her love for her children is what keeps her fighting to try and achieve a happy ending for them. This book makes you realise that as a mother you’d do anything for your children.



Room by Emma Donoghue

I read this around the time my son was the same age as the boy in the book and I think that made it effect me even more than it would most mothers. The story is told from 5 year old Jack’s perspective and while he doesn’t realise that they are prisoners in “Room” it’s clear to the reader that they are in a terrifying situation. The mother in this book is living every parent’s worst nightmare but still manages to be an amazing mother to her son.


The End we Start From by Megan Hunter

This is book is more novella than novel. It tells the story of a couple who give birth to their first child just as an apocalyptic flood occurs. The writing style of very detached but still manages to be almost poetic. It’s ultimately the mother in this story who keeps life going for their child while the father fails to cope with the situation they find themselves in.


The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood 

The Handmaid’s Tale is now familiar to most people because of the TV show based on it but the book is still well worth a read. June’s loss of her daughter is a traumatic and makes you want to hold tight to your children. Ultimately makes you proud of the power of the Mother-Child bond.


Wild Swans by Jung Chang

While the other books on the list are novels, this is a biography. Chang’s depiction of her mother’s experience of bringing up a daughter in communist China is made all the more disturbing for being true. I read this before becoming a mother and have only since appreciated  how hard parenting must have been in that political climate.


If you’re interested in reading other books about motherhood, check out these novels for new mothers.

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Mothering in tough times: Motherhood in Books, book covers of the handmaid’s Tale, Room, Wild Swans and A Thousand splendid sons

1 Comment

  1. May 30, 2019 / 9:57 am

    Thank you for the book inspiration! My list to read keep growing and growing

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