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Posts Tagged ‘Mother’s Day’

Mother’s Day Special: Gift Giving Suggestions from Our Reading Circle

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Quindlen_Still LifeWell, Mother’s Day is closer than around the corner now…

If you haven’t gotten a gift for that special someone in your life in honor of Mother’s Day then have no fear! Members of the Random House team have some stellar suggestions to set your mind at ease:

Leigh Marchant, who is a big fan of Anna Quindlen, recommends her latest bestselling novel, Still Life with Bread Crumbs. She also loves and recommends Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Maggie Oberrender’s mother loves literary and historical fiction, so she selects The Unwitting by Ellen Feldman and Paris by Edward Rutherfurd. Both titles went on sale this spring!

Selby McRae loves recommending books to her mother because she has explorative tastes and always has a book with her. This year, she’ll wrap two favorites that have stuck with her from the first read: Rachel Joyce’s Perfect and Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys.

Susana Zialcita is thrilled to recommend Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and Ruth Reichl’s Delicious for her mother this year.
Reichl_Delicious

Like Leigh’s mother, Max Minckler’s mother is also a fan of Anna Quindlen! She has not read Still Life with Bread Crumbs yet, though, so Max plans to wrap it up alongside Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller.

Rick Gingrich was excited to discover Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole for his mother because it’s a novel that fits the reading bill!

Jessica Bonet looks forward to gifting two books to her mother: Jamie Ford’s latest bestseller Songs of Willow Frost and Domenica Ruta’s heart-wrenching debut memoir, With or Without You.

And for you foodies out there: Pooja Lynch’s mother recently adopted a Paleo-esque lifestyle with her daughter, so this year Pooja would like to give her Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry.

We hope these suggestions help your last minute shopping panic or simply inform your reading lists! As always, feel free to share your thoughts or any other suggestions with us on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

Happy Mother’s Day from Our Reading Circle to Yours!

Author Spotlight: Piper Kerman, author of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, on Mother’s Day

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Kerman_Orange is the New Black_Netflix Tie In May is officially here and that means Mother’s Day is right around the corner. In her memoir, Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman reflects on Mother’s Day during her time in prison. Enjoy the excerpt below!

“Mothers and Daughters”

Mother’s Day was off the chain at the Camp. From the moment we awoke, every woman wished another “Happy Mother’s Day” . . . repeatedly. I quickly gave up explaining that I had no children and just said, “Happy Mother’s Day to you!” About eighty percent of the women in U.S. prisons have children, so odds were I was right.

A lot of women had crocheted long-stem red roses for their “prison mamas” or friends. Some women organized themselves into somewhat formalized “family” relationships with other prisoners, especially mother-daughter pairs. There were a lot of little clans at Danbury. The younger women relied on their “moms” for advice, attention, food, commissary loans, affection, guidance, even discipline. If one of the young ones was misbehaving, she might get directed by another irritated prisoner, “Go talk to your mama and work your shit out!” Or if the kid was really out of control with her mouth or her radio or whatever, the mama might get the request, “You need to talk to your daughter, ’cause if she don’t get some act-right, I’ma knock her out!”

My de facto prison “family” revolved around Pop. It exemplified the complex ways that family trees grow behind bars, like topiaries trained into very odd shapes. My immediate “sibling” was Toni, the new town driver who had replaced Nina as Pop’s bunkie. By automatic extension Rosemarie, Toni’s best buddy, was another sibling—I thought of them as the Italian Twins. But Pop had many other “children,” including Big Boo Clemmons, the even bigger Angelina Lewis, and Yvonne who worked with Pop in the kitchen. I took a particular liking to Yvonne; we called each other “the sister I never wanted.” All of Pop’s black “daughters” called her Mama. All of the white ones called her Pop. She didn’t have any Spanish daughters, though she did have Spanish pals from her own peer group.

Motherhood in prison was revered but also complicated by separation, guilt, and shame. To my eye, my fellow prisoners were mostly ordinary poor or middle-class mommies, grandmas, and even great-grandmothers, and yet some of them were serving very long sentences—five years, seven years, twelve years, fifteen years. I knew that, by virtue of being in the minimum-security Camp, they were unlikely to have been convicted of violent crimes. As I watched my neighbors, young women who lacked even a high school education, with their children in the visiting room, I found myself asking again and again (in my head), What could she possibly have done to warrant being locked up here for so long? Criminal masterminds they were not.

In the three months since my arrival in Danbury I had seen a number of pregnant women become mothers; in February young Doris was the vessel of my first prison nativity. I had never seen a woman in labor before and was both mesmerized and horrified to watch Doris enter a zone in which her body and her baby were taking over, regardless of surroundings. To my fascination, the population of the Camp snapped to attention and stepped in to help her as much
as anyone could. She had a half-dozen surrogate midwives hovering over her at any given moment, checking to see what she needed, coaching her on how to get more comfortable, relating stories of their own labors, and reporting on her progress to an anxious audience of prisoners. The staff certainly wasn’t paying much attention to what was happening; prison births were no big deal to them.

It was Doris’s first child, and all she wanted to do was curl up in her bunk, which apparently was not a good thing for her or the baby struggling to be born. Older women took turns walking with her up and down the long main hall of the Camp, talking to her gently, telling stories, and cracking jokes. Observing keenly was Doris’s roommate, also heavy with her first child and due any day. They both looked scared.

The next morning, as the contractions were growing closer, Doris was taken off to the hospital in handcuffs. In many places in the United States pregnant female prisoners are kept chained in shackles during their deliveries, a brutal and barbaric practice, though this was not the case for poor Doris. After many hours of labor she gave birth to a nine-pound baby boy in Danbury Hospital and was brought back to prison immediately, pale and drawn and sad. Her mother took the baby back to the rural outpost where she lived, eight hours away. There wasn’t much chance that the new arrival would see his father anytime soon— Doris told me that her baby’s daddy had just been picked up on three outstanding warrants. Fortunately she was due to go home within the year.

I hadn’t witnessed anything at Danbury to allay my fear of childbirth, but for the first time I had some tiny insight on the motherchild relationship. The single most reliable way to get another prisoner to smile was to ask her about her children. There were always families in the visiting room; this was both the best and the worst thing about the many hours I spent there. Young children were growing up while their mothers did time, trying to have a relationship via fifteen-minute phone calls and the hours spent in visitation. I never saw these women look happier than when they were with their children, playing with the small collection of plastic toys kept in the corner and sharing Fritos and Raisinets from the vending machine. When visiting hours were over, it was gut-wrenching to watch the goodbyes. In one year a child could change from a squirming baby to a boisterous talkative toddler and mothers would watch football championships and prom nights come and go from the distant sidelines, along with their children’s graduations, wedding days, and funerals.

As tough as it could be for a prisoner to visit with her children, it was also hard for parents to see their babies locked up. There were so many young girls among us, eighteen and nineteen years old. Some of these kids had been heading to a place like Danbury for some time, but one bad decision could suddenly land a young woman in a merciless and inflexible system. A lack of priors and a history of general good conduct didn’t matter at all— federal mandatory minimums dictated sentences, and if you were pleading guilty (the vast majority of us did), the only person with real leeway in determining what kind of time you would do was your prosecutor, not your judge. Consequently there were sad-looking parents visiting their kids— though not mine. My mother was like a ray of sunshine in that
room.

For our visits every week my mother was always dressed immaculately in soft, cheerful colors, with her blond hair carefully styled, her makeup perfectly applied, wearing a piece of jewelry that I had given her for a distant Christmas or birthday. We would talk for hours about my brother, her students, my uncles and aunts, the family dog. I would fill her in on whatever new electrician’s skill I’d learned that week. She always seemed perfectly comfortable in the visiting room, and every time she visited, I got comments from other prisoners afterward. “Your mama is so nice, you’re a lucky girl,” or “That’s your mother? Get out! I thought it was your sister!” I had been hearing that one most of my adult life. People would often say it to her as well, and even though she had received that compliment approximately three thousand times before, it always made her glow. In the past, this familiar exchange made me feel resentful. Do I look like I’m in my late forties or fifties? But now I enjoyed watching her pleasure when people drew a close comparison between us. Even with this disaster I had dragged us all into, she was still proud to be my mother. It occurred to me that I had never seen my mother defeated, even when life presented difficulties and disappointments. I hoped that our resemblance extended beyond our blue eyes.

My father, more than a thousand miles away, was able to come visit me when the academic year was over. His relief when he saw me was palpable. I have always been a daddy’s girl, and I could tell how it pained him to see his baby, even a baby in her thirties, in a place like this. We still enjoyed our time, eating peanut M&Ms while I spun all the intrigues of the place out for him to absorb. The difference between our weekly phone calls and an actual in-person conversation was like a text message versus a weekend-long visit. If there was one silver lining to this whole mess, it was the reminder of my family’s greatness.

I had a lovely visit with my mother that Mother’s Day— althoughthe visiting room was deranged. I had never seen it so crowded with large family groups. A lot of women in Danbury had families who lacked the resources to come and visit often, even though many of them lived in New York City. Tired grandmas and aunties, taking care of their daughter’s or sister’s children during their prison stays, had a very hard time marshaling toddlers and teenagers on the buses, trains,
and taxis necessary to get to Danbury— the trip could take four hours each way from the city and cost money. But Mother’s Day was special, and children of every age swarmed the place, and a cacophony of conversations flowed in many languages and accents. In the midst of all of it was my mother, smiling happily when she spotted me walking into the madness.

Season 2 of Orange is the New Black airs on Netflix June 6!

Win ELIZABETH THE QUEEN in time for Mother’s Day

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Smith_Elizabeth the QueenStill looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift?  Haven’t had time to go shopping?  Well, look no more because Random House Reader’s Circle brings you a late-breaking giveaway with the chance to win a copy of ELIZABETH THE QUEEN by Sally Bedell Smith just in time for May 13th.

Copies of the book will be sent overnight to your address so you will receive them with enough time left to put a bow on it.  Enter here for your chance to win.

About the book: In this magisterial new biography, New York Times bestselling author Sally Bedell Smith brings to life one of the world’s most fascinating and enigmatic women: Queen Elizabeth II.

From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.

In ELIZABETH THE QUEEN, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibet as she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines—the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press—as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends.

Compulsively readable and scrupulously researched, ELIZABETH THE QUEEN is a close-up view of a woman we’ve known only from a distance, illuminating the lively personality, sense of humor, and canny intelligence with which she meets the most demanding work and family obligations. It is also a fascinating window into life at the center of the last great monarchy.

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