100 books like The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

By Ayana Mathis,

Here are 100 books that The Twelve Tribes of Hattie fans have personally recommended if you like The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Nightbitch

Catherine Ricketts Author Of The Mother Artist: Portraits of Ambition, Limitation, and Creativity

From my list on smart and artful books about motherhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

Parenting books bore me. I don’t like reading instruction manuals, and don’t have time to weigh others’ opinions about how to raise my kids. But when I read books about motherhood forged in self-reflection and told with literary elegance, I become a more self-reflective parent and have the eyes to see beauty in my ordinary maternal experiences. Books like this are few and far between. It’s hard for mothers to make art; when our resources are spread thin in parenthood, why do work that may not pay? How to find time for creative rumination? But here’s a list of books written by mothers who persisted in their creative work to show us motherhood in all of its mundanity, mania, and magic. 

Catherine's book list on smart and artful books about motherhood

Catherine Ricketts Why did Catherine love this book?

This novel made me laugh out loud and made me ache with recognition.

A visual artist by training, the protagonist finds herself sequestered from the art world in the throes of early motherhood. In an uncanny, hilarious, and insightful story about a mother who turns into a dog, Nightbitch shows us the animality of motherhood—its fleshiness, its carnal love.

As a mother and an artist myself, I was inspired to lean into those aspects of parenting, trusting that even as they separate me from the world of propriety, ambition, and achievement, they ultimately enrich the art that I make.

By Rachel Yoder,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Nightbitch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this blazingly smart and voracious debut novel, an artist turned stay-at-home mom becomes convinced she's turning into a dog. • "A must-read for anyone who can’t get enough of the ever-blurring line between the psychological and supernatural that Yellowjackets exemplifies." —Vulture

One day, the mother was a mother, but then one night, she was quite suddenly something else...

An ambitious mother puts her art career on hold to stay at home with her newborn son, but the experience does not match her imagination. Two years later, she steps into the bathroom for a break from her toddler's demands, only…


Book cover of White Oleander

Katie K. May Author Of You're on Fire, It's Fine: Effective Strategies for Parenting Teens with Self-Destructive Behaviors

From my list on healing family dynamics and generational trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

My journey from a teen struggling with self-harm, drug use, and overwhelming emotions to a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification Clinician™ and director of Creative Healing, Teen Support Centers, uniquely positions me to understand the deep emotional challenges teens face. Having navigated my own tumultuous youth and now parenting a "Fire Feeler" teen, I use my personal and professional insights to guide thousands of teens and their parents. I am passionately committed to creating environments where teens are supported while the entire family learns skills to improve and work together.

Katie's book list on healing family dynamics and generational trauma

Katie K. May Why did Katie love this book?

This book struck a chord with me as it masterfully portrays a journey through hardship and transformation. Astrid’s resilience, especially in the haunting absence of her mother, resonated deeply with me as I navigated similar challenges in my own life. Her path to self-discovery and breaking free from generational patterns illustrates the profound strength required for self-reclamation.

By Janet Fitch,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked White Oleander as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

White Oleander is a painfully beautiful first novel about a young girl growing up the hard way. It is a powerful story of mothers and daughters, their ambiguous alliances, their selfish love and cruel behaviour, and the search for love and identity.Astrid has been raised by her mother, a beautiful, headstrong poet. Astrid forgives her everything as her world revolves around this beautiful creature until Ingrid murders a former lover and is imprisoned for life. Astrid's fierce determination to survive and be loved makes her an unforgettable figure. 'Liquid poetry' - Oprah Winfrey 'Tangled, complex and extraordinarily moving' - Observer


Book cover of Olga Dies Dreaming

Asale Angel-Ajani Author Of A Country You Can Leave

From my list on badass mothers.

Why am I passionate about this?

The first time I learned that I was raised by a “bad” mother was when I was in the first grade. The teachers complained that my mother hadn’t shown up for parent-teacher conferences and never could get me to school on time. But I knew what they did not, that my mother worked a lot and was raising kids all her own and yet still had time to take us to the library to read books that were well beyond the ones at school. Because of my highly iterant life raised by a bookish and neglectful mother, I have always been interested in the relationship between children and their less-than-perfect mothers.

Asale's book list on badass mothers

Asale Angel-Ajani Why did Asale love this book?

At the heart of this book is a mother who appears mostly off stage but is truly the director of this fabulous story of a brother and sister trying to define and live their own American dreams in the shadow of US colonialization of Puerto Rico.

It’s a great read. Biting, funny, and political.

This is a book I press into everyone’s hands these days. It’s a book that speaks to many people, who have ever tried and failed to both be of family and get away from family. 

By Xochitl Gonzalez,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Olga Dies Dreaming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK · WINNER OF THE BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY PRIZE • INTERNATIONAL LATINO BOOK AWARD FINALIST

A blazing talent debuts with the tale of a status-driven wedding planner grappling with her social ambitions, absent mother, and Puerto Rican roots—all in the wake of Hurricane Maria

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Kirkus, Washington Post, TIME, NPR, Vogue, Esquire, Book Riot, Goodreads, EW, Reader's Digest, and more!

"Don’t underestimate this new novelist. She’s jump-starting the year with a smart romantic comedy that lures us in with laughter and keeps…


Book cover of The Son of Good Fortune

Asale Angel-Ajani Author Of A Country You Can Leave

From my list on badass mothers.

Why am I passionate about this?

The first time I learned that I was raised by a “bad” mother was when I was in the first grade. The teachers complained that my mother hadn’t shown up for parent-teacher conferences and never could get me to school on time. But I knew what they did not, that my mother worked a lot and was raising kids all her own and yet still had time to take us to the library to read books that were well beyond the ones at school. Because of my highly iterant life raised by a bookish and neglectful mother, I have always been interested in the relationship between children and their less-than-perfect mothers.

Asale's book list on badass mothers

Asale Angel-Ajani Why did Asale love this book?

The Son of Good Fortune (Excel) has an outrageous single mother who defies societal expectations. Maxima, a former B-movie action star in the Philippines, runs an online scam siphoning money from men.

She dominates the book with her humor and zest for life, even as she is forced to live in the margins as an undocumented immigrant, raising a child all on her own.

This is a funny and smart and poignant book. I loved the mother in this book and felt for her son, Excel, deeply.

By Lysley Tenorio,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Son of Good Fortune as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Recommended Book From:
USA Today * The Chicago Tribune * Book Riot * Refinery 29 * InStyle * The Minneapolis Star-Tribune * Publishers Weekly * Baltimore Outloud * Omnivoracious * Lambda Literary * Goodreads * Lit Hub * The Millions

FINALIST FOR THE JOYCE CAROL OATES PRIZE
WINNER OF THE NEW AMERICAN VOICES AWARD

From award-winning author Lysley Tenorio, comes a big hearted debut novel following an undocumented Filipino son as he navigates his relationship with his mother, an uncertain future, and the place he calls home

Excel spends his days trying to seem like an unremarkable American teenager.…


Book cover of Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

LaTonya M. Summers Author Of Black Again: Losing and Reclaiming My Racial Identity

From my list on restoring black women’s mental wellness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Black women's mental wellness is important to me because my racial identity was interrupted by racial assimilation. There was a period of time where I thought passing for white would lead me to the success I sought. I learned that adopting white norms and values as my own was psychologically harmful, and these books led to racial restoration and mental well-being. I am an associate professor of clinical mental health, and I teach my students to assess, identify, and promote healthy racial identity development. I hope readers who are on their journeys will find these books helpful. 

LaTonya's book list on restoring black women’s mental wellness

LaTonya M. Summers Why did LaTonya love this book?

This book speaks to Black women's ingenuity and resilience, not just the strength of contemporary Black women. Once, a white woman researcher told me about a divisive dynamic between white and Black women. I had no idea what she was talking about because I was passing as a white woman then.

But now, as one who has fully embraced my Blackness, I know exactly what she is talking about. This book illuminates this through the relationship between First Lady Martha Washington and her enslaved woman, Ona Judge.  

By Erica Strong Dunbar,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Never Caught as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A startling and eye-opening look into America's First Family, Never Caught is the powerful story about a daring woman of "extraordinary grit" (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation's capital. In setting up his household he brought along nine slaves, including Ona Judge. As the President grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn't abide: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to…


Book cover of Philadelphia Fire

Natalie Pompilio Author Of Walking Philadelphia: 30 Walking Tours Exploring Art, Architecture, History, and Little-Known Gems

From my list on fiction set in the City of Brotherly Love.

Why am I passionate about this?

My usual answer, when someone asks me where I live in Philadelphia, is: “Have you seen the Rocky movies, where he’s running through that open fruit/vegetable market? I’m three blocks from there.” I’ve called Philadelphia home for more than 20 years. I’m clearly a big fan, having now written four books about the city. I include a reference to the city’s most famous fictional character in my children’s alphabet book Philadelphia A to Z. In More Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell, I got to tell stories about the country’s largest public art program. In This Used To Be Philadelphia, I told the then and now stories of dozens of city locations.

Natalie's book list on fiction set in the City of Brotherly Love

Natalie Pompilio Why did Natalie love this book?

This book couldn’t be set anywhere else. In 1985, a stand-off between city authorities and members of the MOVE organization ended when a state police helicopter dropped two bombs on MOVE’s West Philadelphia headquarters. Eleven people died, including five children, and more than 60 homes were destroyed. Two residents of the house – a 13-year-old boy and an adult woman – survived the conflagration. 

MOVE members believed in racial justice, animal rights, and a back-to-nature lifestyle. The group frequently clashed with neighbors and city leaders. On the day of the bombing, police had gone to the MOVE home to evict those living there. 

As a newspaper reporter, I twice interviewed two police officers on the scene who helped young Birdie Africa as he fled the burning home. The first words Birdie said to the officers were, “Don’t shoot me.” Two decades after the bombing, the police officers were still haunted…

By John Edgar Wideman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Philadelphia Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1985 police bombed a West Philadelphia row house. Eleven people died and a fire started that destroyed sixty other houses. John Edgar Wideman brings these events and their repercussions to shocking life in this seminal novel.

At the heart of Philadelphia Fire is Cudjoe, a writer and exile who returns to his old neighbourhood and who becomes obsessed with the search for a lone survivor of the event, a young boy seen running from the flames.

One of Wideman's most ambitious and celebrated works, Philadelphia Fire is about race, life and survival in urban America.


Book cover of Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington's Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away

Jeffery McKenna Author Of Saving Dr. Warren... "A True Patriot"

From my list on for young adults on the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved American history all my life. I thought I knew the events and key figures in the American Revolution. Then, in 2001, I learned about Dr. Joseph Warren. The more I learned, the more I wanted to tell his story. I travelled to Boston. I walked the Freedom Trail. I followed the red bricks that wind through historic Boston until they end at Bunker Hill. I saw the marble statue of Dr. Warren at Bunker Hill honoring his death. His influence and footprints are on every location along the Freedom Trail. My passion is to tell his story; my hope is that all Americans can remember his sacrifice.

Jeffery's book list on for young adults on the American Revolution

Jeffery McKenna Why did Jeffery love this book?

I love to find “hidden gems” in history. Ona Judge is a gem. First published in 2017, Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge is a biography that reads like an engaging novel. It depicts the life of George and Martha Washington’s young enslaved girl that grows to a young woman in the shadows of the most powerful couple in our new nation. At age 16, Ona leaves Mount Vernon to accompany President Washington and Martha while they live in New York and then Philadelphia. She is treated splendidly, but she is still property. This terrible truth crashes upon Ona when Martha, wanting to give the absolute best gift she can to her difficult, disagreeable, and stubborn granddaughter, decides to give her Ona – her most cherished possession, as a wedding gift. Rather than be property to be gifted and given, Ona escapes. This book shows how President…

By Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Kathleen Van Cleve,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

"A brilliant work of US history." -School Library Journal (starred review)
"Gripping." -BCCB (starred review)
"Accessible...Necessary." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction, Never Caught is the eye-opening narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington's runaway slave, who risked everything for a better life-now available as a young reader's edition!

In this incredible narrative, Erica Armstrong Dunbar reveals a fascinating and heartbreaking behind-the-scenes look at the Washingtons when they were the First Family-and an in-depth look at their slave, Ona Judge, who dared to escape from one of the nation's Founding Fathers.

Born into a…


Book cover of Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America's Empire

Jordan Neben Author Of A Lot of Questions, with No Answers

From my list on thinking about history and how we understand it.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many people, my passions were first ignited when I was a toddler, and I mainly have my maternal grandfather to thank what for interests me. I remember coming to my grandparent’s house when I was young and watching WWII documentaries that my grandfather had on VHS (yes, I’m that old). Since then, I’ve always had a passion for history. It doesn’t really matter the subject, I’m interested in everything; from the Ottoman Empire to the Vietnam War, to the Spanish Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula, to the US-backed coup in Guatemala during the Cold War. I hope that passion for history comes through when readers explore my book.  

Jordan's book list on thinking about history and how we understand it

Jordan Neben Why did Jordan love this book?

Gangsters of Capitalism covers a part of US history that is often deliberately overlooked by Americans, because it clashes with our national myths about ourselves. Katz follows US imperial history from the very end of the 19th century through to the middle of the 20th century, by following the life and career of Smedley Butler, a man who served in the marines for so much of this history. Gangster of Capitalism is in the top five of my favorite books that I have ever read. Katz’s ability to weave a personal biography with sweeping history and how that history still affects us all in the present is superb. 

By Jonathan M. Katz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gangsters of Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking journey tracing America’s forgotten path to global power—and how its legacies shape our world today—told through the extraordinary life of a complicated Marine.

Smedley Butler was the most celebrated warfighter of his time. Bestselling books were written about him. Hollywood adored him. Wherever the flag went, “The Fighting Quaker” went—serving in nearly every major overseas conflict from the Spanish War of 1898 until the eve of World War II. From his first days as a 16-year-old recruit at the newly seized Guantánamo Bay, he blazed a path for empire: helping annex the Philippines and the land for the…


Book cover of Chief Bender's Burden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star

Curt Brown Author Of Minnesota, 1918: When Flu, Fire, and War Ravaged the State

From my list on Minnesota stories to get through a long winter.

Why am I passionate about this?

After more than 30 years in daily journalism in Minnesota, I moved to a trout stream near Durango, Colo., to stage a second act. Editors at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where I worked for 26 years, gave me a freelance contract to write a Minnesota History column every Sunday. It’s morphed into a popular crowd-sourcing of history with readers feeding me delicious family stories. I’m the lucky one who gets to weave these stories—enriching my knowledge of what being Minnesotans is all about.

Curt's book list on Minnesota stories to get through a long winter

Curt Brown Why did Curt love this book?

This 2008 biography of a Hall of Fame baseball pitcher follows Charles Albert Bender from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota to his heyday with the Philadelphia Athletics in the early-1900s. While fans know about Minnesota baseball stars like Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor, and Jack Morris, Bender’s amazing life has been all but forgotten. Swift breathes new life into a man with a foot in both his Indian and white worlds.

By Tom Swift,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chief Bender's Burden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The greatest American Indian baseball player of all time, Charles Albert Bender, was, according to a contemporary, "the coolest pitcher in the game." Using a trademark delivery, an impressive assortment of pitches that may have included the game's first slider, and an apparently unflappable demeanor, he earned a reputation as baseball's great clutch pitcher during tight Deadball Era pennant races and in front of boisterous World Series crowds. More remarkably yet, "Chief" Bender's Hall of Fame career unfolded in the face of immeasurable prejudice. This skillfully told and complete account of Bender's life is also a portrait of greatness of…


Book cover of Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia

Laura A. Macaluso Author Of Monument Culture: International Perspectives on the Future of Monuments in a Changing World

From my list on monuments in the era of controversies and removal.

Why am I passionate about this?

Laura A. Macaluso researches and writes about monuments, museums, and material culture. Interested in monuments since the 1990s, the current controversies and iconoclasm (monument removals) have reshaped society across the globe. She works at the intersection of public art and public history, at places such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Laura's book list on monuments in the era of controversies and removal

Laura A. Macaluso Why did Laura love this book?

Monument Lab is one book to get your hands on, if you are curious to know how a historic city can remake its traditional monumental history to become more inclusive and reflective of a holistic past and present. The book is about the organization called Monument Lab, which works with communities, artists, and more to reshape the monument culture of Philadelphia. Filled with short essays and colorful photographs, Monument Lab and Monument Lab the book model the democratic turn towards inclusive monument making in an American city.

By Paul M. Farber (editor), Ken Lum (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monument Lab as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia? That was the question posed by the curators, artists, scholars, and students who comprise the Philadelphia-based public art and history studio Monument Lab. And in 2017, along with Mural Arts Philadelphia, they produced and organized a groundbreaking, city-wide exhibition of temporary, site-specific works that engaged directly with the community. The installations, by a cohort of diverse artists considering issues of identity, appeared in iconic public squares and neighborhood parks with research and learning labs and prototype monuments.

Monument Lab is a fabulous compendium of the exhibition and a critical…


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