Review: Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories

Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories, Bonnie Jo Campbell

Published:  October 5th 2015 by W. W. Norton & Company

Hardcover, 272 pages

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss


Named by the Guardian as one of our top ten writers of rural noir, Bonnie Jo Campbell is a keen observer of life and trouble in rural America, and her working-class protagonists can be at once vulnerable, wise, cruel, and funny. The strong but flawed women of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters must negotiate a sexually charged atmosphere as they love, honor, and betray one another against the backdrop of all the men in their world. Such richly fraught mother-daughter relationships can be lifelines, anchors, or they can sink a woman like a stone.

I hadn’t heard the term “rural noir” until I read the description for this book of short stories and it’s perfect. These stories were of real life, and they were not pretty.  I had to space these out over several days so that I could process the darker ones without being overwhelmed but it was worth the time.  Some of  these stories were just brutal, the emotions were raw, and the writing was excellent.  There was definitely more violence than I expected, but in the end more hope too.  

I wanted to turn away from some of the stories of mothers who didn’t stand up for their daughters – or for themselves, but despite the darkness I am so glad I finished (almost all of these) powerful stories.  These women felt real and will stick with me for some time I think.  If you enjoyed The Shore or short stories then this is a book for you.

4 Stars

Thank you W. W. Norton & Company and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.


  1. I have been wondering about this book. It sounds like it’s darker than I was thinking it would be. The title suggests that it’s something every mother with a daughter might want to read. Did you find this to be the case?

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