Attachments fierce, funny, fateful, and forever.

Fierce Attachments

By Vivian Gornick

This memoir by one of our most eloquent essayists details, with alertness and candor, the Bronx-born-and-raised Gornick’s struggle to liberate herself from her mother’s fierce grip. It’s a doomed battle, redeemed by an adult recognition of the way love, in the end, outlasts liberty.

The Joy Luck Club

By Amy Tan

Tan’s brilliant, bestselling 1989 novel moves around a mah jong table to reveal — in the moving life stories of four Chinese-American women and their daughters — the power of the mysteries, truths, and consequences one generation embodies for another.

The Color of Water

By James McBride

Subtitled A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, McBride’s poignant exploration of his biracial identity bears witness to the life of Ruth Shilsky McBride Jordan, a rabbi’s daughter, born in Poland and raised in the American South, who moved to Harlem, married a black man, and put 12 kids through college.

Life Among the Savages

By Shirley Jackson

The author of the novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle and the hauntingly horrifying short story “The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson was a master of the psychologically macabre. Here she reveals a different side to her disposition, recounting with hilarity and comic exasperation just how crazy raising kids can be.

The Florist’s Daughter 

By Patricia Hampl

Hampl (A Romantic Education, Virgin Time) is an accomplished memoirist, as this volume, a reflection on the matter and meaning of parental attachment inspired by a vigil at her mother’s deathbed, proves beyond a doubt. Happy families may be all alike, but each deserves a distinction as telling as this book.