A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive, Dave Pelzer
As you can tell from the cover, this one is a bit heavy-handed, but Pelzer’s sensational and inspirational (and, well, treacly) memoir features perhaps the worst mom of all time.
Drunk Mom, Jowita Bydlowska
Bydlowska’s memoir is about her own failings as a mother as a result of her alcoholism — a self-aware look at motherhood from a parent’s perspective rather than a tell-all from the point of view of a spurned child.
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
Let’s give Walls’ mom credit: her husband was also terrible. This is really a memoir about a terrible dad and a terrible mom working in tandem to screw up their kids.
The Liars Club, Mary Karr
Mary Karr’s award-winning memoir chronicles her manic childhood and her relationship with her mother, seven times married, who nearly destroyed the family.
Mommie Dearest, Christina Crawford
Christina Crawford’s memoir and the movie that was based on it set the gold standard for terrible moms — even if it’s possible she exaggerated how awful Joan Crawford really was.
Oh the Glory of It All, Sean Wilsey
Sean Wilsey wrote a memoir about his wacky mom, and she proved her wackiness by publishing her own memoir as a rebuttal!
Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs
Sure, this book is mostly about how Burroughs was raised by an insane psychotherapist, but his mother did leave the kid with him.
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Jeanette Winterson
Winterson’s mom, a religious zealot who did not quite accept her daughter’s sexuality, became a spectre who haunted her throughout her adult life.
Will There Really Be a Morning?, Frances Farmer
The complicated relationship between actress Frances Farmer and her mother, who both refused to accept her mental illness as well as having her committed, is the subject of this now out-of-print memoir.
With or Without You, Domenica Ruta
Ruta’s mother, while encouraging her to read great books and watch interesting films, probably could have done so over the weekend rather than keeping her daughter home from school to watch The Godfather. But, she was a drug addict and dealer, so…