When Your Mother Doesn’t

Available now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and your local bookseller.

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Here’s what early reviewers are saying: read more
“Deeply moving and profoundly suspenseful…” – Carla Buckley
“…a compelling and artful new novel…” – Alice Kuipers
“…Kelly masterfully weaves a compelling narrative …” – Tamar Ossowski
“…this book is a gem…” – Kristina Riggle
“…vibrant voice, powerful and poignant…” – Colleen Faulkner

when your mother finalAbout the book:

Nearly three decades of secrets lie between Lola Ashby and the two girls she reluctantly raised. Now, prompted by the one father figure she respects, older daughter Frankie agrees to drive from Portland to visit her ailing mother, who abandoned the girls when they were in high school. When younger daughter Callie announces to Frankie that she’s moving her fashion model career to Los Angeles from the East Coast, Frankie badgers her sister into meeting up in the Idaho panhandle for a family reunion to dilute the impact of their mother’s indifference.

However, on Frankie’s first night on the road, the trip gets more complicated when a well-dressed elderly woman at a rest stop dumps a young boy in her lap with a request to take him on to Montana. And Callie’s exit from Pittsburgh is fraught with its own shady and violent difficulties. Meanwhile Lola strengthens her resolve to keep the past and the secrets where they belong.

Writing When Your Mother Doesn’t

Like my earlier novels, the idea for this book came from a prompt: evening at a rest stop. A rest stop immediately came to mind, one just west of the Dalles in the Columbia Gorge. Then I knew it was a hot summer night and the woman, Frankie, was on a trip she didn’t want to make. In writing the prompt, I got as far as the appearance of the older woman wanting help. What kind of help she wanted didn’t become clear until I picked the writing up again about six months later, and the boy, T. Roy, came into the picture. Then I realized this was a book about mother and child, mothers and daughters, my mother and me.

So I set out to explore several questions: What kind of women do daughters become when their mother can’t love them? How do they find love and ways to love themselves? Can they forgive?

I also realized early on that I needed to tell each woman’s story but how to weave them together was a challenge. Then I saw each life story as a strand in the braided reunion of these three women. I love these characters, each of whom represents a part of me and a part of most of the women I know.

Click here to read the first chapter of When Your Mother Doesn’t.