Recently I read Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice (One World/Ballantine, 2008). If you enjoy mother/daughter relationship books, you'll enjoy this one. While the issues are complex, the story reads like a conversation. Shay is the daughter of a recovering alcoholic. She comes home for break after a meltdown during her last year of graduate school. Nona is still in the early years of her recovery. She's diligently worked on her issues and her behavior, is raising a small child and has attempted make amends with her daughter, but Shay is resentful. Shay wants to continue blaming Nona but she doesn't want to address how her mother's alcoholism has impacted her. She won't admit she doesn't know how to get her life back on track.
Brice has done her homework. Both Nona's and Shay's behavior are authentic. With only a few years clean, Nona behaves like many people in early recovery. She has a garden. She pays attention to her diet and she keeps herself wrapped in positive messages. And Shay behaves like a child of an alcoholic: she has poor interpersonal skills, she acts out when she is distressed and she distrusts everyone.
While the story is predictable, it is still compelling. Anyone who has dealt with addiction either as the addict or a family member, will relate to this. Readers can easily empathize and be judgmental with both characters. At times, a reader might favor one character over the other, but ultimately you want reconciliation for them. You want them to heal. I think most women who have had a strained relationship with their mothers will relate. I think the author was smart to keep this story straightforward and personable, too. It made this kind of relationship easier to examine; it gives the reader space to inject herself. And for some, it just might be a catalyst for revisiting relationships of their own. I enjoyed it.