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Eight Novels Featuring Moms You’ll Fall in Love With

Not sure what to add to your summer reading list? Here are some page-turners to toss in your beach bag featuring mom characters you’d totally hang out with in real life.


The Widow of Wall Street

by Randy Susan Meyers

This is a fictionalized version of Bernie Madoff’s descent from a life of affluence and luxury to his exposure as a fraud when his Ponzi scheme crumbles, ruining thousands of lives. In this compelling story, we meet Jake and Phoebe Pierce as students. Alternating between Jake’s and Phoebe’s perspectives, Meyer chronicles a marriage clouded by deceit. When Jake’s lies are exposed, Phoebe must face the truth: she never really knew her husband.

As Phoebe’s life implodes, the public judges and shames her, assuming her complicity in her husband’s crimes. We, however, have known her since she was a teenager who was desperate to get out from under her overbearing mother’s roof. We worried for her as Jack grew increasingly anxious and detached, and we rooted for her as she re-invented herself as a professional. So we feel for her when her children cut Jake out of their lives, leaving Phoebe to decide where her loyalties lie.

The Boston Girl

by Anita Diamant

This is a poignant, funny, coming-of-age story chronicling the life of Addie Baum. Born to Jewish immigrants in Boston at the turn of the twentieth century, Addie’s early life is characterized by her struggle to escape her parents’ expectations and forge her own path. As she unspools her story in response to her granddaughter’s request for an interview (“How did you become the woman you are today?”), we are transported to early 1900’s Boston, where Addie goes to great lengths to obtain an education, forges enduring friendships, faces losses, and searches for love. Addie’s sharp insight, wicked sense of humor, and vast wisdom make you want to sit down with her over a cup of coffee and a platter of blintzes and hear more of her stories.

Everything I Never Told You

by Celeste Ng

The story is set into motion when sixteen-year-old Lydia Lee’s body is found in a local lake in a small rust-belt town, but the drama actually began long before Lydia was even born. The story takes root when Lydia’s mother, Marilyn, a Radcliffe co-ed with dreams of becoming a doctor, meets her father, James, a Harvard professor who is the American-born son of Chinese parents. A masterful storyteller, Ng exposes the mountain of secret hurts and desires the Lees have harbored over the years, which ultimately leads to Lydia’s death.

Initially, it’s easy to lay blame on Marilyn. As a mother, she is frequently absent, yet cool and demanding when she is present. But as Marilyn’s character is revealed to us – her dreams and longings juxtaposed against her own mother’s stifling expectations – our hearts break for this bereaved mother.

The Husband’s Secret

by Liane Moriarty

Cecilia Fitzpatrick, mother of three, loving wife, and a fixture in her community, is living a comfortable life when she stumbles on a letter that upends her world. On the envelope are the words, “Cecila, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died.” It’s written by her husband, who is still very much alive.

Cecilia goes back and forth on whether to open the letter, revealing an inner life we can all relate to. Despite appearances, she struggles with the ubiquitous challenges of managing the invisible work of motherhood, maintaining a marriage, and connecting with her kids without smothering them. This page-turner begs the question of whether it’s possible to fully know another person or even ourselves.

When it Happens To You

by Molly Ringwald

(Yes, that Molly Ringwald.) This trio of stories contains the frailties and complexities of human nature, the intense bonds of family, and the complicated, charged dynamics of marriage. Three distinct narratives intersect to reveal the connections between the characters linking the stories.

The action revolves around Greta and Philip, a couple whose marriage is collapsing as Greta endures fertility treatments and the never-ending work of mothering their sassy, energetic, six-year-old daughter. Greta’s inner monologue regarding everything from the disappointments of her life (including her husband’s infidelity), to her observations of the mundane, ring heartbreakingly true.

The Light Between Oceans

by M.L Stedman

We meet Isabel, as an innocent young woman with a kind heart who falls in love with a stoic older man. Recently back from serving in the Australian military during the war, Tom Sherbourne has accepted a position as a lighthouse keeper on a desolate island. There, he and his new bride create a beautiful, simple life. The only thing missing from their perfect world is a child.

Having endured two miscarriages and just days after delivering a stillborn, Isabel finds a baby in a boat that has drifted ashore. Against her scrupulous husband’s wishes, Isabel nurses and cares for the baby, urging Tom not to report the mysterious arrival. Despite the unsavory circumstances, we smile along with Isabel when the baby provides a light that shines through the shadow of her crushing losses.

The baby is two when Tom and Isabel return to the mainland. At that point, they must face the fact that another family has been crushed by the loss of the baby they’ve claimed as their own.

Still Life With Breadcrumbs

by Anna Quindlen

Rebecca Winters is a divorced photographer whose career peaked decades ago. With a grown son needing occasional financial help, an aging mother to care for, and a dwindling income, Winters is desperate to make ends meet. Under mounting pressure, she sublets her beloved New York City apartment and takes up residence in a dilapidated cottage in the country. There she finds renewed inspiration for her art and a simpler way of life, along with an unexpected romance.

Though she enjoyed fame and recognition for her art, Rebecca is anything but pretentious. She captures our hearts as she navigates the transition from city life to the slow place of a small town. Though she may have regrets about her ex-husband, it is without a trace of self-pity that she recounts the injustices of her marriage. By the time she meets her new flame, we are thrilled for Rebecca to finally meet someone who deserves her.

Room

by Emma Donoghue

Told from the perspective of five-year-old Jack, “Room” is the story of a mother and her son trapped in a basement by a kidnapper who has kept them there for years. While the small room is the only home Jack has ever known, it’s his mother’s jail. Known only as “Ma,” (we never do find out her real name), Jack’s mother is a strong, courageous, creative woman, whose love for her son burns white hot. Though most of us couldn’t fathom being imprisoned by a madman, we connect with Ma’s commitment to her beloved son and her undying drive to protect him.

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Whether you're filling out your own registry or shopping for a soon-to-be-mama in your life, it can be hard to narrow down what exactly new moms need (versus what will just end up cluttering the nursery). That's why we paired up with the baby gear experts at Pottery Barn Kids to create a registry guide featuring everything from the gear you'll use over and over to the perfect gifts under $50.

Check out the picks below, and happy shopping (and registering)!

MUST-HAVE BABY GEAR

These five gift ideas are designed to make #momlife easier while solving some of the most common parenting dilemmas.

1. Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller

One of the first things you learn when you become a mom? Those infant car seats are heavy. Which is what makes the Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller so genius. It's the world's first completely integrated mobility solution, quickly transforming from safe car seat to functional stroller without any extra parts. Simply pop out the wheels, pull up the handle bar, and you're ready to roll.

Doona All-in-one Infant Car Seat / Stroller, $499

BUY


GIFTS THAT CAN BE PERSONALIZED

Even the most utilitarian gift feels a little more special with some personalization. Here are some of our favorite options that can be customized with baby's name or monogram.

1. Nursery Blankets

You'll never forget the blanket you bring your newborn home in. And with Pottery Barn Kids' assortment of blankets, there's a wrap to suit every new mama's style. Choose from fuzzy neutral patterns or stylish printed options, and add baby's name for an extra personal touch.

Nursery Blankets, Starting at $39.50

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GIFTS THAT GROW WITH THEM

Save money and space by gifting items that will last long after baby's first year. These clever gift items will have mama saying "thank you!" for years to come.

1. west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib

A convertible crib is an investment in years of sweet dreams. We love this mid-century-style option made from sustainably sourced wood with child-safe, water-based finishes. When your baby outgrows their crib (sniff!), it easily converts into a toddler bed with the matching conversion kit.

west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib, $399

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GIFTS UNDER $50

Sometimes the littlest gifts mean the most. Here are our favorite gifts under $50 they'll be sure to cherish.

1. west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set

When you're raising a newborn, you can never have too many swaddles. Perfect for naptime, burp cloths, stroller covers, and spontaneous play mats, a muslin swaddle will always come in handy. And we especially love this neutral patterned collection in platinum, nightshade, and peacock.

west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set, $45.50

BUY

Learn more and explore all Pottery Barn Kids' registry must-haves here.

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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They say there's no use in crying over it, but for pumping mamas, spilled milk is a major upset.

When you're working so hard to make sure your baby has breast milk, you don't want to lose a drop, and Chrissy Teigen knows this all too well.

The mom of two posted a video to social media Wednesday showing her efforts to rescue breastmilk from a tabletop. She used various utensils and a syringe to try to get the milk back in the bottle.

"I spilled my breastmilk and this is how important it is in this house," she says while suctioning up milk with what appears to be a baster.

In a follow-up video Teigen continues to try to rescue the spilled milk.

"We're trying," she says as she suctions up a drop or two. "I got some."

Teigen is currently breastfeeding baby Miles, her son with husband John Legend, and has been very public about the fact that she pumps a lot as a working mom.

She's also been open about the fact that milk supply has always been an issue for her, not just with Miles but with Luna, too.

"I actually loved [pumping] because I'm a collector of things, and so when I found out I could pump I [did it] so much because I knew the more you pumped, the more milk you'd make," she told POPSUGAR back in March. "So I loved collecting my breast milk and seeing how much I could get, even if it was very, very little."

Like a lot of moms, Teigen did struggle emotionally when a pump session wouldn't get her the ounces she wanted.

"I wasn't producing a lot of milk, and it was frustrating. When you're frustrated, [it can also make you] not produce that much."

Research backs her up. Stress has been linked to lower milk production. Because of that, she's trying to stay positive this time around, but captioned her video post "EVERY DROP COUNTS IN THIS HOUSE" because, well, they do.


So many mothers can relate. Have you ever tried to save your breastmilk?

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What is it about networking that's just kind of...awful? Typically inconvenient and often awkward, formal networking events rarely yield the results most women (and especially mamas) are looking for.

Whether you're reentering the workforce post-baby leave or simply looking to make a complicated career switch as a busy mom (or just struggling to juggle play dates and professional meetings), making the right connections is often a hurdle that's difficult to surmount. And more and more often, networking comes up short in providing what moms really need.

When time is truly at a premium—a session swapping business cards can be hard to prioritize. Shapr wants to change all that.

Designed with busy people in mind, Shapr is an app with an algorithm that uses tagged interests, location, and professional experience to match you with 10-15 inspiring professional connections a day. You swipe to indicate interest in networking with any of them, and if the interest is mutual, you're connected. (But don't worry, that's where the similarities to that dating app end.)

It makes it easier to connect with the right people.

From there, you can chat, video conference, and even meet in person with potential mentors, partners, and investors while growing your real-life network. No more wasting hours trying to pick someone's brain only to discover they don't have the right experience you need. And no more awkward, stilted small talk—even suggests a few preset icebreakers to help get the conversation rolling more quickly.

The best part? You could do virtually all your connecting from your couch post-bedtime.

It simplifies switching careers or industries.

Sysamone Phaphone is a real mom who was fed up with traditional networking options. When she quit her full-time job in healthcare to pursue founding a startup, she quickly realized that in-person networking events weren't only failing to connect her to the right people, they were also difficult for a single mom of two to even attend. "I was complaining to a friend that I was so tired and didn't know how I was going to keep doing it this way when she recommended the Shapr app," Phaphone says. "I tried it right there at dinner and started swiping. [Later], in my pajamas, I got my first connection."

From there, Phaphone was hooked. Her network suddenly exploded with developers, potential partners she could work with, and even people to hire for the roles she needed. She was also able to connect with and empower other women in tech. Now, checking in with Shapr connections is just part of her routine. "I look for connections after drop-off at school and on my commute into the city," she says. "Then after bedtime is done, I go on to check if there is anyone I've connected with."

It helps you find a mentor—no matter where they live.

Another common roadblock Shapr removes? Location. While you probably wouldn't fly to LA from New York for a networking event, the Shapr app lets you connect and chat with the person who best meets your needs—regardless of where they're based. Even better for parents, the "mom penalty" many women contend with when trying to get back into the workforce doesn't exist on Shapr—if you have the right experience, the connections will still come.

To connect, simply create your account, enter up to ten hashtags you want to follow (either industry related like #film or #tech or by person you're seeking, such as #developer or #uxui), preset what you're looking for (investors, collaborators, etc.), and indicate how you prefer to meet. To connect with more people at once, Shapr also has community groups within the app around interest topics that you can join. And even though the connection begins in the digital space, it often results in the in-person experiences mamas crave.

"I wish I could encourage more moms and dads to use it because it has been a lifesaver for me," Phaphone says. "It empowered my career and career choices, and it provides so much convenience. I can put my kids to bed and not go to an event, but still meet 20 people in a night."

For women looking to grow their business, position, or simply achieve a little self-growth, Shapr is changing the way we connect. This powerful new app could change everything, mama. Download it today to get started.

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