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Mothers, Tell Your Daughters

Cover of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters

Mothers, Tell Your Daughters

Stories
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The strong but flawed women of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters love and betray one another; their richly fraught relationships can act as anchors, lifelines, or deadly poison. Bonnie Jo Campbell's working-class protagonists are at once vulnerable, wise, cruel, and funny, and they are always getting into or out of trouble. In "My Dog Roscoe," a new bride becomes obsessed with the notion that her dead ex-boyfriend has returned to her in the form of a mongrel. In "Blood Work, 1999," a phlebotomist's desire to give away everything to the needy awakens her own sensuality. In "Home to Die," an abused woman takes revenge on her bedridden husband. In these fearless and darkly funny tales about women and those they love, Campbell has created characters that will capture the hearts and minds of her readers.

The strong but flawed women of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters love and betray one another; their richly fraught relationships can act as anchors, lifelines, or deadly poison. Bonnie Jo Campbell's working-class protagonists are at once vulnerable, wise, cruel, and funny, and they are always getting into or out of trouble. In "My Dog Roscoe," a new bride becomes obsessed with the notion that her dead ex-boyfriend has returned to her in the form of a mongrel. In "Blood Work, 1999," a phlebotomist's desire to give away everything to the needy awakens her own sensuality. In "Home to Die," an abused woman takes revenge on her bedridden husband. In these fearless and darkly funny tales about women and those they love, Campbell has created characters that will capture the hearts and minds of her readers.

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About the Author-
  • Bonnie Jo Campbell teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University. The author of Once Upon a River and American Salvage, she lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 3, 2015
    After 2011’s novel Once upon a River, National Book Award–finalist Campbell returns to the realm of food stamps, liquored nights, and deadbeat men in an aptly titled short story collection populated by beleaguered mothers and their tetchy, trouble-courting offspring. In “To You, as a Woman,” a gang-rape victim and single mother laments her later irresponsible choices and contemplates the fate of her two young children while waiting for STD lab results. The paranoid maternal figure in “Tell Yourself” drives away her new beau after wrongfully accusing him of showing an interest in her teenage daughter. In “My Dog Roscoe,” a hormonal and pregnant new bride imagines her dead ex-fiancé inhabiting the soul of a stray dog in need of adoption. The title story unfolds as a sprint-down-memory-lane rant from a hospice-bound, cancer-ridden woman to her daughter. “Forgive me, even if I can’t say I’m sorry,” she says—an apology uttered in one way or another by many of the mothers in this collection. Campbell has made a career chronicling the triumphs and hardships of the perpetually marginalized, with an acute talent for airing the dirty laundry of tough-as-nails, ill-treated women. And though this new batch traverses similar territory instead of, perhaps, something new, most of the stories succeed so thoroughly that it’s hard not to think: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2015

    These dark stories of women's lives in rural Michigan are funny, poignant, and depressing by turns. Each tale tells of common conflicts and how family members fail one another, though they try hard and some eventually recognize mistakes they have made. Some of the stories present a "lady and the tiger" ending, leaving readers to wonder at the outcome and hope the protagonists can find their way to a positive ending All of the women and girls are strong characters, while many of the men skew closer to caricatures. Narrator Christina Delaine gives life to the various personae. VERDICT An enjoyable listen for those who enjoy gritty, hard-luck stories. ["Bittersweet stories of unbearable heartache, sadness, and sometimes love": LJ 8/15 starred review of the Norton hc.]--Cheryl Youse, Norman Park, GA

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Mothers, Tell Your Daughters
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Stories
Bonnie Jo Campbell
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