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Pleasures

Celebratory Titles by Women for a Special Day

May 07, 1999|CONNIE KOENENN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"M" is for the mountain of books that rolls off the presses each spring just in time for Mother's Day.

In hard cover and paperback, prose and poetry, they bear testimony to the rich world of contemporary motherhood: single mothers, working mothers, stay-at-home mothers, lesbian mothers, surrogate mothers, adoptive mothers, stepmothers, godmothers and more.

The seasonal books are celebratory and positive, even when dealing with the dysfunctional aspects of the contemporary family. And they are female. These authors are women who understand mothering.

A sampling of new books:

* "Letters to Our Daughters: Mothers' Words of Love" by Kristine Van Raden and Molly Davis (Hyperion). The authors, longtime best friends, explain that, having often marveled at the unconditional love they felt for their own daughters, they began to wonder how other mothers would express their feelings. The 40 short letters were gathered from everyday women of all cultures and walks of life. Many of the lives have been touched by such burdens as drugs, alcohol, racism, poverty and physical handicaps.

* "Chocolate for a Mother's Heart" by Kay Allenbaugh (Fireside Books). Allenbaugh, creator of the bestselling "chocolate" collections of heartwarming true stories about women, has turned to mothers. These 50 true-life experiences, from authors, motivational speakers, therapists, businesswomen and others, honor a wide range of motherhood attributes, including humor, intuition, nurturing and wisdom.

* "The Courage to be a Stepmom: Finding Your Place Without Losing Yourself" by Sue Patton Thoele (Wildcat Canyon Press). Based on her own painful experience as a novice stepmother in the early '70s, plus the contributions of others, psychotherapist Thoele writes of the difficulties of breaking the "wicked stepmother" stereotype. She organizes her advice into a straightforward and readable handbook (including a succinct 20 guidelines for stepmoms).

* "I'm Not Mad, I Just Hate You: A New Understanding of Mother-Daughter Conflict" by Roni Cohen-Sandler and Michelle Silver (Viking). Psychologist Cohen-Sandler and Girls' Life magazine editor Silver take on the formidable challenge of dealing with a daughter's explosive teenage years. (What happened to that delightful, sunny little girl?!!) Without dictating solutions, the authors devote the first half of the book to guidance in examining the mother-daughter relationship and the second half to practical tools for staying connected.

* "Mother of My Mother: The Intricate Bond Between Generations" by Hope Edelman (Dial Press). Setting out to analyze her relationship with her grandmother, Edelman found she couldn't leave her mother out. Combining her own story with dozens of others, she explores the three-generational triangle from which women develop their female identities.

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