Relationships. They’re hard. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Husbands and wives. Fathers and sons. Mothers and daughters. One of the themes in my YA Unbidden Magic series is the relationship between my protagonist, Allie Emerson, and her young, single mother, Faye. It’s true; Faye isn’t exactly “Mother of the Year.” Still, I was unprepared for the reaction of some reviewers. After reading Moonstone, one reviewer hated Faye so much she wanted to “smash her in the face.” Another resorted to a string of fake profanities like *#*$**! Yet another felt compelled to address her remarks directly to Faye by shouting, “GET OFF YOUR LAZY ASS AND GET A JOB!”
Okay, people, let’s all take a deep breath and think about it. Why did my portrayal of Faye hit so many hot buttons? The obvious answer: Bad mother, Faye, tapped into their own experiences, dredging up bitter mother-daughter memories. If this is the case, I completely understand and sympathize. But, if this is not the case, why such outrage over a fictional character? It’s still a mystery to me.
Like most writers of fiction, my books are based on the real world. When I worked as a counselor in an alternative school, I encountered many “Fayes” and “Allies,” mothers and daughters whose relationships were totally upside down. In other words, the kid was the adult, the adult the kid. I learned a valuable lesson from this experience. One might think the teen forced into early adulthood would be hateful toward such an immature parent. Quite the opposite is true. These kids love their mothers. And Allie, despite having moments of extreme anger and frustration, cares deeply for her mother. As I write each book in the series, I make an effort to deepen the relationship between Faye and Allie even though it remains dysfunctional. It’s called keeping it real. Time (and reviews) will tell me if I succeed.
I’d love to read your comments and opinions on good and bad mothers, as well as answer your questions. If you leave a comment, you’ll be entered into a drawing for one my books.