Some of the best mother-daughter talks emerge from a night in slippers on the couch, munching popcorn and watching a movie. Trading favorite books can be another good way of getting to the heart of your relationship with the most important woman in your life. Juanita Johnson, a New York-based therapist and storyteller, offers some suggestions for great mother-daughter books and movies.
The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan.
Whether you read the book or watch the movie, says Johnson, the book gets to the heart of an ultimate truth of the mother-daughter dynamic. "I love the scene when the mothers recognize that until they tell their own stories, they don't free their daughters to tell theirs. I think there's something rich in that observation," Johnson says.
One True Thing, by Anna Quindlen.
Johnson thinks this story of a mother-daughter relationship's evolution during the mother's terminal illness—also both a book and a movie—is a great dialogue-starter. "My daughter and I talked a lot about it. For both of us, one of the most difficult conversations we ever have is the understanding that we're going to have to leave each other someday, physically," she says. "Your mother's going to die someday. My daughter doesn't like to go there. I force the issue sometimes, because it means that when it happens there will be fewer regrets because we will have said the things we want to say."
Tumbleweeds, starring Janet McTeer and Kimberly Brown.
"A great mother-daughter film."
She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb.
"It's a wonderful mother-daughter book — amazing that it's written by a man. He has, I think, nine sisters."
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison.
"It's a difficult book to read, but an interesting one for an older daughter and mother to consider together."
Raising Up Queens: Loving our Daughters Loud and Strong, by Esther Davis-Thompson.
"It speaks of strong women, what daughters and mothers are capable of as individuals and together."