Books for Mom -- Ellen Heltzel's Top 5

Ellen Heltzel, Book Critic and author of  "Between the Covers: The Book Babes' Guide to a Woman's Reading Pleasures," joined us today with her take on the top 5 books to give mom for Mothers Day.

Here are her picks:

1. "Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love," by Debra Gwartney. Any mom who has lived with teenagers will empathize with Gwartney's hair-raising, heart-rending story of how her two oldest daughters rebelled. After a divorce, Gwartney moved from Arizona to Eugene to make a new start. She now realizes how wrenching the move was for daughters Amanda and Stephanie, who acted out by going punk, doing drugs and taking off for parts unknown. The best part of the book is Gwartney's honesty about her guilt and resentment, which was trumped only by a mother's undying love. 

2. "Not Becoming My Mother," by Ruth Reichl. The food critic and editor of Gourmet Magazine wrote somewhat disparagingly of her mother in two earlier memoirs. This one is a sympathetic look at a woman who was born before her time and -- well, let's be honest -- may have had some instability issues as well. Reichl honors her mother by framing her life as having been shaped by the era of Betty Crocker when her personality and talents were more in synch with Auntie Mame.

3. "Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes," by Emily Franklin. Franklin was so determined to transcend the mac 'n' cheese regimen of most kids that she set out to acclimate her children's tastebuds to more sophisticated tastes. The results are delicious.

4. "The Help," by Kathryn Stockett. This has been the #1 bestseller among independent booksellers in the South, and for good reason. It's a novel about a young white woman fresh out of college in the '60s who secretly records the testiimonials of black women who work as housekeepers for her friends in Jackson, Miss. Those black maids tell it all, with humor, anger and resilience.

5. "Michelle," by Liza Mundy. There's a reason Michelle Obama has been on countless magazine covers of late -- First Ladies sell. In this unauthorized biography of the newest occupant of 1000 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mundy doesn't dig dirt. But she also has the freedom to call 'em as she sees 'em, because she wasn't given access -- apparently Michelle Obama wants to hold her counsel and tell her own story. The tidbits picked up here paint the picture of a woman with drive and ambition from the get-go: She practiced the piano like a maniac as a little girl and showed the same determination as a career woman 30 years later. She's so organized that it's spooky. In all the story suggests she'll be a force to reckon with while in the White House.

Ellen talks about more books on her website.

She will be bringing her extensive knowledge of how books have framed the relationship between mothers and daughters to a luncheon presentation and fund-raiser for Albertina Kerr Centers:

  • Friday, May 8th
  • Albertina’s Restaurant , 424 NE 22nd Avenue
  • Ellen's talk begins at 11:30am, Lunch is served at 1:00pm
  • Tickets are $25
  • Make reservations by calling 503-231-0216.


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