I’m celebrating Mother’s Day by savoring my favorite literary depiction of maternal instinct: “Flowers in the Attic.”
The book isn’t exactly inspiration for a tulip arrangement.
Nonetheless, V.C. Andrews’ novel — which tells the story of a mother who traps her children in seclusion — remains my most poignant memory of motherhood in literature.
You could say it confirms my therapy bill. I look at the memory from a broader perspective, however.
For better or worse, the books I loved most during adolescence were ones whose teenage lead characters lacked a definite parental influence.
There’s L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables,” which tells an orphan girl’s story. C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” focuses on children who enter a fantasy land after being separated from their parents.
And the central character in Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” is a young girl who constantly outsmarts her uneducated parents.
The current crop of popular young-adult novels isn’t too different.
In the “Harry Potter” series, Harry is an orphan. Bella Swan, the protagonist in the “Twilight” series, enters vampire territory after moving away from her mother to live with an initially distant father.
I’m likely not the only one scouring my brain to create a list of admirable literary mothers.
Perform a Google search for “mothers in literature” and you’ll find articles like “Worst mothers in literature” and “Wicked mothers of literature” among the top entries.
Sure, there are exceptions.
Good ole Ma from “Little House on the Prairie” had virtually no flaws, but is she memorable? Maybe not.
So where have all the parents gone?
We’re not dealing with a hostage crisis.
Instead, the books’ unsympathetic parents are exaggerated versions of the forces that inspire us to slam a door, bury ourselves under the covers and read.
Amid groundings and report card lectures, we seek solace in literature to remind us that it’s possible we possess super powers that will one day override authority.
No, that doesn’t have to make sense.
There’s a time and place for parental guidance. But when you’re a teenager, it rarely defines the characters that fill your novel pastimes.
Which is exactly why my enthusiasm for “Flowers in the Attic” hasn’t wilted.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-571-8516.