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  • The Adventures of Strong Vanya: The titular character's mother died years ago. On her deathbed she gave Vanya one coin he always carries around.
  • Alfie Atkins: The main character's mother is never mentioned in the books. Her absence is not mentioned either. Alfie seems to have a completely normal kid's life, with friends, cousins, and a loving father. Just no mother. When Moral Guardians and other curious people wanted to know where she is, the author Gunilla Bergström replied: "Maybe she's dead. Maybe the parents are divorced. Maybe she's in the laundry room. It's up to the reader."
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  • In the Alisa Selezneva series by Kir Bulychev, Alisa nominally has both parents, but only her father is actually present.
  • American Girls Collection:
    • Josefina's mother died of unspecified causes about a year before her series starts. Many of the books deal with her and her family's grief and coping through the loss.
    • Marie-Grace's mother and little brother died in a cholera epidemic a few years before the start of her series.
    • Discussed in Happy Birthday, Kirsten! When Kirsten's mother is pregnant, Kirsten's friends mention how they know many motherless children whose mothers experienced Death by Childbirth. Played Straight in Kirsten's Promise when Kirsten meets a little boy whose mother died in an accident while they were attempting to meet up with his father in California.
    • In the movie adaptation of the Samantha series, Nellie's mother had already died by the time she, her father, and her sisters move to Mount Bedford (in the books her mother and father both die around the same time in Mount Bedford). Samantha herself is also an orphan in both the books and the movie, her mother and father died in a boating accident when she was five, leaving her to be Raised by Grandparents (well, maternal grandmother).
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    • In the movie adaptation of the Molly series, Emily's mother died in an air raid during The Blitz, whereas her mother was alive but still in England in the books.
  • In The Amy Virus: Eroica Witt's mother died when she was young, though Eroica doesn't miss her due to how physically abusive she was.
  • In And I Darken, Lada and Radu's mother, Princess Vasilisa, only about fifteen when she gives birth to Lada, begs to be released back to her family, and their father Vlad disgustedly allows it, telling Lada that she has no mother but her country. Already before she left she seemed a nonentity in her children's lives, leaving their nurse to do most of the raising.
    • Mehmed, being the third son of the sultan, has a nonrelationship with his father and mother. His mother, though heavily invested in his life, is alien to him.
    Huma: And you may call me Mother.
  • Animal Inn: Val's mother died in a car accident three years before the start of the series.
  • In Animorphs, Marco's mom is presumed dead, and his father is torn apart by grief. Initially, Marco was reluctant to get involved in the fight against the Yeerks, knowing that his father would never recover if he died as well. Unfortunately, The Call knew where he lived, and his mother wasn't dead; she was a Controller.
  • Annals of the Western Shore
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    • One of the first things Orrec tells us in Gifts is that his mother Melle is dead. We don't find out how or why until much later.
    • Memer's mother in Voices died during a sickness about a year after giving birth to her daughter.
  • Jane Austen's record of heroines' mothers includes:
  • In The Baby-Sitters Club, Mary Anne's mother died of cancer when she was very little. She left a letter to Mary Anne that she was to have received on her sixteenth birthday.
  • The Beast Player: Halumiya's mother, Meemiya, died in the burning of the palace by the Sai Gamulu.
  • In Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie, the main character's mother left when she was three.
  • In The Belgariad, Poledra let her husband Belgarath think she had died in childbirth while he was away for... some reason. Her daughters Polgara and Beldaran, and the god Aldur, knew the truth. Belgarath only found out over three thousand years later.
  • Black Fleet Crisis: Luke's missing mother, who until this had only been briefly mentioned with no clear information, is the subject of a B plot as he's told by a woman he can find out more about her, then tries to with her help. It was just a lie by Akanah, and goes nowhere.
  • The Bounty Hunter Wars: Bossk's antagonistic relationship toward his father is a main theme in the first book. His mother meanwhile is never even mentioned.
  • In A Brother's Price, the Whistler mothers are all in another city selling horses for all of the early events of the book, so their children have to fend for themselves. Which wouldn't be a big deal if Eldest, who's twenty-eight, and the ten elder sisters hadn't gone out, which again wouldn't have been as big a deal if Corelle hadn't taken the middle sisters to pay court to the Brindles as Heria went out patrolling their borders, leaving no one older than twelve in charge.
  • In the books of Dale Brown Bradley McLanahan's mother Wendy McLanahan is dead because she was killed by an enemy of his parents.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series:
    • Basically every demigod children whose divine parent is the mother suffers this, since the Olympians have a strict no-raise policy over their children. They're lucky if their mothers turn up to meet them at all; usually, the average demigod's sole interaction with their mother (if you can call it that) is when they are claimed after their arrival at Camp Half-Blood/Jupiter. Children of Athena (e.g. Annabeth), Aphrodite/Venus (e.g. Piper), and Demeter/Ceres (e.g. Meg) are some examples.
    • Thalia and her brother Jason Grace had an abusive mother who never cared for them beyond the fact that they are the children of Zeus. Thalia states, unsympathetically, that she died in a car accident shortly after she ran away from home at the age of 10.
    • May Castellan was driven mad by Delphi shortly after she gave birth to Luke. She's still alive, but is in no way to raise Luke, who mainly spent his life on the streets before he arrived at Camp Half-Blood.
    • Nico and Bianca's mother, Maria, was murdered by Zeus when he was 10 and she was 12.
    • Leo's mother, Esperanza, was indirectly killed by Leo, who suffered a Power Incontinence thanks to Gaea. He still blames himself for it.
    • Frank had a loving mother who died serving in Afghanistan shortly before the events of The Son of Neptune.
    • Hazel was raised by her mother until the age of 12, but it wasn't a happy life. Unlike the Graces, however, they reconciled shortly before Marie died (well, they both died, but Hazel came back).
  • Carmilla: Laura, the narrator, mentions that her mother died from an unspecified cause when Laura was an infant. Laura shares this trait with other victims of Carmilla: Bertha Rheinfeldt is implied to be an orphan, and the coffin of the peasant girl whose funeral Laura and Carmilla watch is followed by her father only.
  • The Cat Who... Series: Qwill adored his mother, Anne Mackintosh Qwilleran, who died prior to the beginning of the series. She raised him as a single parent, since his father died while she was pregnant with Qwill.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones's Charmed Life (first book of the Chrestomanci series), Cat and Gwendolen's parents are killed.
  • The City of Ember has a double load. Lina Mayfleet's mom died when her younger sister Poppy was born. But her friend Doon Harrow's mom is never mentioned in the series with no explanation whatsoever. Many fans' favorite excuse is that she died when Doon was young.
  • In Coiling Dragon, everyone is told that Linley's mother died when his brother was born. Learning the truth behind her death, and exacting his revenge, drives the story's plot for a time.
  • Kristina, the protagonist of the Crank Trilogy, grows up to become this to all of her children. She doesn't have custody of her oldest three, and while her younger two normally live with her, she is forced to leave them with their grandparents while dealing with legal issues halfway through the final novel. By the end of the story, all five of her children have been adopted by Kristina's mother, Marie.
  • The Crimson Shadow: Luthien's mother died of the great plague which devastated Eriador in the past.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: Christopher, an eccentric boy, is raised by his father because his mother has died. Or so he's been told, and the fact she hadn't is a major plot point.
  • Dawn of War: In Chris Roberson's Dawn of War II, a Space Marine squad happens on two boys, who are searching for their mother; Sergeant Thaddeus at first thought she had abandoned them, and then realized that she could have been searching for them and been caught in the tyranid attack. When the boys realize that she is almost certainly dead, they are eager for Revenge; Thaddeus tells them to leave the fighting to the Marines, but they might be Blood Ravens one day, and they want to be, so they can fight.
  • Chichikov's in Dead Souls.
  • In Detectives in Togas, Caius' mother is dead, so his sister has to care for the household instead.
  • Melodía's unnamed mother in The Dinosaur Lords died in childbirth while bearing Melodía's sister Montse, ten years before the start of the story.
  • In Discworld, the inept wizard Rincewind claims he was so unloved as a child that his mother ran away before he was born. This may explain not only his gloomy existential pessimism, but also a life in which he has played havoc with the smooth running of time and causality. Meanwhile the not-quite-twin-brothers Lobsang Ludd and Jeremy Clockson had to deal with apparently being orphans - their mother turns out to be no less than the anthropomorphic personification of Time itself and she had no other option than to be an apparently absent parent.
    • The mother of Tomjon, heir to the throne of Verence I, is absent without explanation in Wyrd Sisters. The witches do make a point to recite "may she rest in peace" when she's mentioned, so presumably she died, but precisely how or when is unstated.
  • The Divergent series:
    • Tris herself loses her mother when Natalie gets shoot by a bunch of brainwashed Dauntless members as they are racing to meet with the Abnegation survivors.
    • Evelyn Johnson-Eaton to her son, Four. In Four: A Divergent Collection, it's presented in the traditional "my kind mother is gone", but by the time of the main series, after Four discovered that Evelyn disappeared on purpose, he's much more bitter and prefers for her to stay that way. However, they reconcile in the climax of Allegiant. In the epilogue, when Evelyn returns from her exile, Four happily embraces her.
  • Vlad Taltos of the Dragaera series was raised by his father and his paternal grandfather. He has no memories of his mother, has no idea how old he was when she disappeared and doesn't know if she died or left his father, because his father keeps changing stories and avoiding talking about her altogether.
  • Dragon Queen: One of Trava's main goals is finding her mother.
  • In Drawing A Blank, Carlton's mother died of cancer well before the events of the book. Since then, his step-mother left the family due to emotional neglect from his father.
  • In Sarah A. Hoyt's Draw One in the Dark, Tom's mother divorced his father and left, to marry and raise a different family. After the first year, she didn't even send Tom a birthday card. When his father calls her in vain hopes that he might find Tom there, she barely remembers him.
  • The title character of The Dresden Files lost his mother to Death by Childbirth apparently; it later emerged that she was murdered when she happened to be giving birth. He then became a full Parental Abandonment case when his father died some years later.
    • Thomas Raith's mother ran away from his father, leaving Thomas behind when he was five years old. She later married Harry's father and gave birth to him, as mentioned above.
  • Earthsea:
    • Ged's mother died less than a year after he was born.
    • In the short story "Dragonfly", the title character's mother died in childbirth. She was also a dragon in human form.
  • Brutus in Conn Iggulden's Emperor series was abandoned by his mother after his father died. However they establish some form of relationship once he's an adult.
  • In Everworld, Senna's mother dropped her off with her biological father when she was a child and disappeared (literally). It turns out she's living in Everworld-Egypt.
  • Evidence of Things Not Seen: Alvin Clark's mother disappeared when he was ten. His father never reported it.
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: In book 2, Madison's new friend Tristan McDaniels lives with his father after his parents divorced and his mother moved away. Subverted at the end of the book, when he goes to live with her in Boston.
  • First Light: Thea's mother died when she was a baby. She was raised by her aunt.
  • In Flavia de Luce, Harriet de Luce, mother of three daughters, got lost in Tibet ten years before the start of the plot under uncertain circumstances. Even Flavia, despite being only a baby when her mother disappeared, feels her absence in her life and ever again notices how much Harriet has really made an impact on her.
  • In George Selden's The Genie of Sutton Place the main character's mother died when he was small and he was given a rather unorthodox upbringing by his father. After his father died as well, he was sent to live with a more straitlaced aunt.
  • Prior to the start of The Girl With The Louding Voice, Adunni's mother has passed away of an unknown illness, a loss that weighs heavily on her to the present day. Adunni's dying wish to her husband was for him to never force Adunni into an arranged marriage, but the plot kicks off when he does just that.
  • Ana's mother in The Glimpse died when she was little.
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, Helion is a Truly Single Parent, but he emancipated a partial, Galatea, to help him raise his son. After four centuries, she divorced him and eventually descended into the sea to merge with the minds there.
  • Pip in Great Expectations lost his mother and was left to be raised by his older sister and her husband.
  • In Guild Hunter Elena's mother suicided when she was young while Raphael's had been Sleeping for centuries, at least until the third book.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry's mother Lily, who died along with his father in a pair of Heroic Sacrifices.
    • Luna's mother died when she was 9 years old. She was then raised by her father alone. "She did like to experiment, and one of her spells went badly wrong."
    • Also, at the end of the last book, Teddy Lupin suffers from the trope when his parents die in battle.
    • And Voldemort's mother Merope, who suffered Death by Childbirth. Significantly, she could have saved herself with magic, but was apparently so distraught over her husband's abandonment that she chose to simply leave her son in an orphanage. To be fair, this was more a case of her being destitute and heartbroken and running to an orphanage as it was known as a safe place for mothers and children and then dying in childbirth than choosing to leave.
    • Hagrid's mother, a giantess, left him when he was three. Hagrid mentions her death casually, as he hardly even remembers her.
    • Neville's mother (and father) are technically still alive, but certainly the poor woman was in no condition to raise her son after having been tortured into insanity by Barty Crouch Jr. and the Lestranges.
  • Lyra, the heroine of The Golden Compass, has no mother and a mostly absent father-figure, Uncle Asriel ( actually her father). Later we find out that her mother is Mrs. Coulter, the main villain of the book.
  • House of the Scorpion: Esperanza Mendoza, María and Emilia's mother. While she did have a good reason to flee Opium, it is shown that she is more interested in her political activism than she is in her own children. The death of her family members seem to be more of an inconvenience to her than a tragedy.
  • I Am Number Four: Number Four's parents are both dead, but he mentions to Sarah's family that his parents are just separated.
  • If I Fall, If I Die: Angela Gallo's mother ran off with her trucker ex-boyfriend the day Angela was weaned.
  • In Death: Eve's mother is missing and her fate has not been elaborated on. She appears in New York To Dallas, reveals what she is, and gets killed off. Roarke's non-biological mother has not been seen since she left.
  • In Bryan Miranda's The Journey to Atlantis, one of the character's mother, Stacie, died in a drowning accident.
  • Just Juliet: Juliet's mother died of unknown causes a few years ago. She's still not over it, and only talks about this reluctantly.
  • The Kissing Booth: Elle's mother died in a car accident when she was a child. She has moved on from it, but sometimes laments that her mother wasn't present when she had her first period or bought her first bra.
  • In Laura Leander, the heroine starts the series with both parents missing: her mother presumably drowned when she was five and her dad disappeared about a year ago. However, rescuing her dad is relatively straightforward, (he was "only" held captive by the Big Bad) and from then on, she fits this trope. Until she manages to rescue her mother from some realm between life and death, at the price of abandoning all her powers.
  • In Lightning, by Dean Koontz, Laura's mother dies giving birth to her.
  • The Marvellous Land of Snergs: Joe's mom died several years ago before the beginning of the story.
  • In the steampunk Cinderella retelling Mechanica, as per the fairy-tale, the young heroine's mother Margot dies of illness early on. In the sequel Venturess, however, it turns out that her mind lives on in a mechanical body. This isn't much comfort for Nick, who now has to grapple with the fact that her mother chose to abandon her.
  • In Les Misérables, Cosette's biological father abandons her mother, Fantine, forcing Fantine into poverty. Their dire circumstances lead Fantine to arrange for her daughter Cosette to live with an inn-keeping family in the country in an effort to provide Cosette with a better life, unaware that they'll force Cosette into labor. Their demands for money force Fantine into selling her hair and teeth and then, finally, entering into prostitution to pay the inn-keepers for housing her daughter. As a result, Fantine eventually dies from tuberculosis. Fortunately, Cosette's full Parental Abandonment doesn't last for long-she's rescued by The Hero, Jean Valjean, who raises her with great love as his own daughter and teaches her to revere her mother as a kind of angel, without traumatizing her with the sadder details of Fantine's downfall.
  • The Lovely Bones: The stress of Susie's death causes her mother, Abigail, to leave the family and move to California, abandoning her remaining children, Lindsey and Buckley, the latter of whom is only 4 years old. She returns home eight years later, and while the others greet her back, the now preteen Buckley is less welcoming because she missed out his entire childhood.
  • In Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, Manyara and Nyasha have a father, but no mother is ever mentioned.
  • Nancy Drew is famously being raised by her attorney father and housekeeper Hannah Gruen. Mom died when Nancy was three — presumably too young to remember her, as she's rarely mentioned and never in detail.
  • John Taylor, the main character of the Nightside series of Urban Fantasy/Gothic Noir novels, was raised by his father because his mother is Lilith. His mom coming back is actually a plot that spreads over several books.
  • Nina Tanleven: The Ghost in the Third Row notes that Nine's mother left (though without divorcing her husband) about two years before the events of the story; The Ghost Let Go adds that it was in order to "find her own life".
  • The Old Kingdom: Sabriel's mother died from giving birth to her.
  • One Of Us Is Lying: Nate's mother was a bipolar cocaine addict who's been missing for years as the novel opens. Nate has told people she's dead, figuring it's likely true by now anyway. She returns, having recently cleaned up, when she hears he's a murder suspect.
  • In the first novel of the Outlander Leander series, Leander makes a single passing mention of his mother in the entire book when he wishes his ears were like his father's instead of his mother's. She never makes an appearance and it isn't explained where she is, although it's made clear his father raised him. Oddly, his mention can be taken as being bitter towards his mother because he also says he likes his ears; he just wishes that he didn't get them from her.
  • The title character of Peter Pan is a runaway, but when he gets Wendy and her brothers to come with him to Neverland, he tries to fit Wendy into the role of the Missing Mom for the Lost Boys. This is also true in The Movie.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, both of Christine's parents are dead. However, the father is discussed in great detail and features in prominently in the flashback sequences of Raoul's and Christine's childhood; there is even a visit to his grave note  and an "I Want" Song about it in the musical. Christine's mother is never mentioned once; she has a Parental Substitute in Mama Valerius anyway, whom Raoul even refers to as her "adoptive mother."
  • Good God, Tamora Pierce, you don't let us down.
    • Tortall Universe:
      • Alanna's mom in Song of the Lioness suffered Death by Childbirth, which turned their father into an emotionally Disappeared Dad. She gets a Parental Substitute for dad, but not mom.
      • The death of Daine's mother shortly before The Immortals briefly turns her into a Wild Child and forces her to leave Galla. Much of Wild Magic is about Daine struggling with her grief. Fortunately, Sarra became a minor goddess, so they meet again in the fourth book and they can visit on certain holidays.
      • Keladry in Protector of the Small is a subversion. Her mother Ilane is alive and well and they keep up a regular correspondence while Kel is training away from home.
      • The Trickster's Duet doesn't kill off Alanna, but Aly suffers from When You Coming Home, Dad? syndrome.
      • In Beka Cooper, Ilony Cooper writes a diary in which she knows perfectly well she has "lung rot" (probably TB) and she will die soon, several years before Beka starts her own diary.
    • Each of the four main protagonists in Circle of Magic suffers Parental Abandonment of one or both parents. In Tris' case it's emotional, since her family disowned her. Briar doesn't know who his dad was, but he's not terribly interested either since it was his mother who raised him and her murder by a thief that affected his young life the most. Daja's entire family died by shipwreck, and Sandry lost mom and dad in a smallpox plague.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, all of the Prosperoes' mothers are gone. This is particularly important for Miranda, since it allows the question of who, exactly, her mother was to be open.
  • Rabble Starkey Emotionally, Veronica and Gunther's mother was not around. She is eventually hospitalized for a number of months due to her mental illness.
    • In the backstory, Rabble's was raised by her grandmother since Sweet Ho, at 14, was unable to do so.
  • Race to the Sun: Nizhoni and Mac's mother disappeared when they were very little, their father believes that she just left them. As it turns out, she was also a monster slayer, left home to protect her family and then got lost in one of trials.
  • Rain Reign: Rose Howard's mother ran away from the family when Rose was two. Or so her father told her. She learns later that her mother actually died. One thing she has in common with her father is that he was also raised by his dad and not his mom.
  • Reaper (2016): Played with. Jex's mother is not good at dealing with reality. She has a habit of, for example, saying she'll call next week, then not calling for a month but still expecting Jex to be up on all her news. However, this is in a society where someone who calls every week from inside Game is seen as an amazing parent, so she's barely below average in comparison. Her talking to Jex about the stalker she once had when she believes Jex is in a similar situation is seen as a big step for her.
  • Red Queen:
    • Cal's mother, Queen Coriane Jacos, was Driven to Suicide when he was still a child.
    • Farley lost her mother when their hometown was flooded by the Cygnets for supporting the rebellion against them.
  • Sometimes done in Redwall, including with villains. Ferahgo the Assassin and Verdauga Greeneyes both have children, but no mates, and Sixclaw's wife dies in childbirth. Bluefen is also the child of a warlord, with her mother being left unmentioned and unseen. Mariel's mother is also not mentioned.
  • In Renegades, Adrian's mother died about ten years prior to the book's events, murdered by an unknown supervillain. Though he was Happily Adopted by two of her teammates, the mystery of her death drives most of his actions in the story.
  • Emma in The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen; her mother overdosed when she was ten.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: Olivia was the missing mom to her daughter Dorothy Dunst Lane, giving her up for adoption to keep her safe. They only reunite after Olivia dies and comes back as a ghost.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Reynard has a bad case of this. ( She died.) Also, his father abandoned his family when he was even younger, making his background a full blown case of Parental Abandonment.
  • In Rogue, Kiara's mami left to work in another city the month before Kiara is kicked out of school.
  • The Royal Diaries have princesses with missing mothers quite often:
    • Elizabeth I's mother was executed when she was young, and she later asks a guard to show her the place where it happened.
    • Cleopatra's mother is also deceased by the beginning of the story, though Cleopatra herself doesn't dwell on it much.
    • Isabel of Castille's mother is imprisoned elsewhere from her, and even when they are reunited her mother has gone mad so isn't the same mother Isabel once knew.
    • Kaiulani's mother died when Kaiulani was a child. Ominously, her last words to her daughter were predictions that she would never marry or become queen of Hawaii, both which come true.
    • Mary, Queen of Scots's mother is serving as Mary's regent in Scotland while Mary lives in France with her future in-laws, and a recurring theme is how much Mary misses her, and why she turned to Diane as a mother figure.
    • Eleanor of Aquitaine's mother and brother died within weeks of each other, leaving her father with the prospect of making Eleanor his heir.
    • Kristina of Sweden is often separated from her mother by her regency council, who suspect her mother of disloyalty to Sweden. Kristina is in no way upset by this, as she finds her mother's mental instability and insistence of making the tomboyish Kristina act more like a lady a trial to deal with.
  • Brandon Sanderson: Common in many of his works.
    • Elantris: Raoden's mother is dead and rarely mentioned, serving to highlight his antagonism with his father.
    • Mistborn: Elend Venture's mother is never mentioned, though she was presumably noble. It's clear the marriage was just a political alliance of convenience, so Elend's father never shed a tear over her loss.
    • Warbreaker: Vivenna and Siri's mother is dead, which is part of the reason their father switches them in the first place. Vivenna reminds him of his wife, and he can't bring himself to send her on what he sees as a suicide mission. So he sent his youngest instead.
    • The Stormlight Archive: Shallan's mother died when she was young, while Adolin and Renarin's died approximately ten years ago. Shallan's case is complicated by the fact that Shallan herself killed her in self-defense, and then her father took the blame. Adolin and Renarin's situation appears to be more normal, but it is difficult to get an exact read because their father lost all memories of her due to a curse he accepted in grief. It's later revealed that he accidentally burned her alive.
    • Alcatraz Series: Alcatraz's mother is understandably absent; it's why he's in the foster care system. Subverted. She was there all along, disguised as a social worker who spent all her time telling Alcatraz he was worthless.
  • In Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine, Sam's mother is dead.
  • In Scavenger Alliance, Blaze's mother Kiera was killed in the London firestorm.
  • The Secret Garden:
    • Mary's mother passed her off to the servants right after she was born to keep her quiet and out of the way, and never so much as looked at her since. Then she and her husband both die of cholera, leading to Mary being sent to live with her uncle.
    • Colin's mother Lilias Craven suffered Death by Childbirth after being badly injured by a fall, causing her husband Archibald to become a grieving recluse and lock up the titular garden, which had belonged to her.
  • The heroine in The Secret Life of Bees has what might as well be the type specimen for the realistic fiction subtrope. Her father never speaks of her missing mom, he practically ignores her, and she assumes that mommy must have been amazing. However, Lily is also wracked with angst because according to her clearest memory of her mother, Lily accidentally shot her dead.
  • Seeker Bears:
    • Kallik's mother Nisa dies early in the first book trying to save her cubs from orcas.
    • Toklo's mother abandoned him after his sickly brother Tobi died.
  • It's a plot point in Ali Sparke's YA series The Shapeshifter that all of the Children of Limitless Ability have lost their mothers. It's eventually revealed that this is because they are all Half-Human Hybrids, whose alien mothers died due to incompatibility with the Earth.
    Gideon: [In the Extranormal Institute cafeteria] PEOPLE! Excuse me one moment, but for the benefit of Mr Jones, who's new, can we please have a dead mother hand-count?
    [All of the students raise their hands.]
  • The Shadowhunter Chronicles:
    • Jace does not know who his biological mother is, but she was not present during his childhood. It is later revealed that his parents both died during the Uprising, and the man who claimed himself to be his father is Valentine Morgenstern, the one who instigated it all.
    • The Morgernstern-Fairchild family was split up because of the Uprising, so each child suffered the loss of a parent. While Clary has a missing father, Jonathan has a missing mother, since he was raised by Valentine in Idris, away from Clary and Jocelyn in New York.
    • Julian, Livia, Tiberius, Drusilla, and Octavian Blackthorn lost their mother to cancer several years ago. Their half-siblings, Helen and Mark, lost their faerie mother when they were still babies, and they were subsequently raised in the mortal world.
  • Sho-shan y la Dama Oscura In the trilogy, if the mom was a good mother, she's probably dead or was going to die in some point of the story. If she's still alive, she's a My Beloved Smother.
  • In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Bridget's mother committed suicide when she was a child, and her trauma from this has made her reckless, impulsive, and single-minded at times.
    • In the final book Sisterhood Everlasting, Tibby dies in an accidental drowning caused by symptoms of Huntington's disease (which would have eventually killed her anyway), leaving behind her husband Brian and her toddler daughter Bailey.
  • The Someday Birds: Charlie's mom was killed by a drunk driver when he was a toddler.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire,:
    • Jon Snow is raised in by his father Ned Stark alongside his half-siblings as Ned's illegitimate son, never being told who his mother is while growing up. At least three different possible mothers have been brought up by characters in story. The most popular theory is that Jon's mother is Lyanna Stark, the younger sister of Ned Stark (making Jon Ned's nephew) and his biological father is Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar died in battle before Jon was born while Lyanna (Ned's younger sister) died after giving birth to him and she asks Ned to make a promise to her. After this, Ned brings Jon home with him, raises and loves Jon as his own son, and protects him from the fatal wrath of the Baratheon regime by hiding his real parentage by claiming him as his own illegitimate son because King Robert Baratheon wanted anyone with Targaryen blood dead.
    • Joanna Lannister died while giving birth to her youngest son, the dwarf Tyrion. This completely wrecks the Big, Screwed-Up Family's balance.
    • Daenerys Targaryen' mother died giving birth to her. This left Daenerys and Viserys to fend for themselves in their new home in Essos.
    • Doran Martell's wife, Mellario of Norvos, had a big culture shock upon marrying the Prince of Dorne, and never truly immersed herself in Dornish culture. Shortly after giving birth to their third child, Trystane, she returned home, leaving him, Arianne, and Quentyn behind.
  • In Spell Fall, the heroine's mother also drowned when she was little, presumably by accident (she was blind). Actually, she was killed by Hawk and his people. Her soul lives in the giant tree, which makes it so important to stop Hawk later on. And, boy, did Hawk pay for this.
  • In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, why the harpist is setting out to search.
  • In the Strange Angels series, Dru's mom is dead and she was left by her father with her grandmother who also died. Her mother was killed by the Vampire Sergej and her Grandmother died of natural causes.
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty: Susannah Fisher loses her battle with cancer in the second book, leaving her children, Conrad and Jeremiah, behind.
  • In Summers at Castle Auburn, Corie's mother hasn't been seen or heard from since Corie was a toddler. Only unlike many of the examples of this trope, Corie doesn't particularly mind and never thinks of her mother.
  • The Sword of Truth:
    • Darken Rahl's mother is never seen and only mentioned once, when he notes that his father "discarded" her after she gave birth, which Darken himself approves of.
    • Richard's mother died while he was just a boy.
  • Tailchaser's Song:
    • Tailchaser's mother, Indez Grassnettle, disappeared months prior, along with Tailchaser's siblings. They're presumed dead.
    • Roofshadow never mentions her mother.
  • A Tale of...:
    • Snow White's mother Rose died of illness when she was a baby.
    • The Queen's mother died in childbirth. As a result, her father resented his daughter.
  • A Taste of Honey:
    • Aqib's mother died giving birth to him. He muses on how this allows him to always imagine her as a consoling presence whenever he needs it.
    • Played with in the case of Femysade and Lucretia. Femysade leaves her family to live and study with the Ashëans in the Ashëan Enclave, so technically, they know where she is, but since she leaves when Lucretia is six years old, never returns in flesh and appears only for brief talks by hologram once in a while, she is very much absent from her daughter's life.
  • Tell Me How You Really Feel: Rachel's mother abandoned her father and her many years before, claiming it was too much to handle for her being a parent. She's bitter about it.
  • These Broken Stars: Lilac's mother died when she was eight, and it's implied that this is what has made her father so controlling of her.
  • In To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Lara Jean's mother died of a head injury when she was nine.
  • The heroine of To Kill a Mockingbird grows up with father (and brother), but her mother is dead.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien has many young-made full or half-orphans, by death or separation:
    • The Silmarillion: Fëanor's mother died when he was young; that, and his father's subsequent remarriage, seemed to have unhinged him quite a bit. When Fëanor and his sons leave the Undying Lands, his wife does not go with them, abandoning all her sons. Túrin's separation from his mother at a relatively early age didn't do him much good either. Elrond and Elros were separated from parents and raised by an enemy. In a break from Tolkien's usual love of full family histories, we have Curufin's son Celebrimbor (who made the Three Elven Rings) whose mother is never mentioned at all.
    • The Lord of the Rings: Boromir and Faramir lost their mother at a young age; Éomer and Éowyn's parents died young as well; and Frodo lost both of his parents to a boating accident. Legolas and Gimli's mothers are never mentioned.
  • Unbelievably Boring Bart: Bart's mom is never seen in the story. Bart mentions that she left his dad before the story started.
  • When Gregor's mom gets the plague in Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, she spends most of the rest of the series recuperating in the Underland.
  • In Vampire Academy, Janine Hathaway doesn't see much of her daughter, Rose until Frostbite, as she abandoned her to be raised in the Academy when Rose was two-years-old.
  • The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Raoul de Bragelonne grew up without a mother, since he's the result of a one night stand and she left him with his dad as soon as it was convenient. (She had her reasons, but still.) To be completely accurate she left Raoul on the doorstep of the man she thought was the father but wasn't, (it's complicated). The man was understandably confused but fortunately the actual father showed up shortly thereafter and took charge of Raoul.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Elena Bothari-Jesek in The Warrior's Apprentice is an especially tragic case: Miles and Elena go looking for Elena's Missing Mom totally unaware of the Awful Truth that her father raped her mother. And when they finally do find her Mom she rejects Elena as an abomination and shoots her father dead.
    • Discussed in A Civil Campaign. In the context of explaining why she doesn't want to marry yet, Kareen Koudelka says:
      "Why else do all the stories end when the Count's daughter gets married? Hasn't that ever struck you as a bit sinister? I mean, have you ever read a folk tale where the Princess's mother gets to do anything but die young? I've never been able to figure out if that's supposed to be a warning, or an instruction."
      • Ironically, Kareen herself is named after Emperor Gregor's Missing Mom who was killed in a palace coup when he was five.
  • Jackie's unnamed mother in We Can't Rewind died in a car accident with a Drunk Driver. In a somewhat unusual treatment for this trope, his father Don admits to feeling a bit guilty for not mourning her death more, since their little six-year-old son Jackie was heartbroken over it.
  • Welcome To Wonderland: In "Home Sweet Motel", it's revealed that Gloria's mother died five years before when they were living in Scranton.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Rand's mother Kari died when he was a baby, and it is later revealed that she is not his real mother and Tam is not his real father, and his real parents are also dead. Later Perrin loses his whole family in a Trolloc attack and Elayne's mother is presumed killed by Rahvin. We also get to know in book 10 that Aviendha has lost her mother. There might be more even more examples, but considering that the series has more than a thousand named characters and the setting is quasi-medieval, this may not be a very prevalent trope in WoT after all. Elayne's mother's death is also a major plot point.
  • When Worlds Collide: Eve Hendron's mother is never mentioned.
  • Where the Crawdads Sing opens with six-year-old Kya's ma leaving the family because she can't take anymore Domestic Abuse from her husband.
  • In White as Snow, Arpazia's mother died when she was born. In addition, Arpazia herself is such a non-presence in Coira's life that Coira thinks her real mother is dead and Arpazia is a stepmother.
  • Wish has a short-lived example. When Jackie was seven and Charlie was an infant, Mama left them and their father and went to live with her sister Bertha and her husband Gus to start a new life. She went back after a few months when Bertha made her opinion of people who abandon their children clear.
  • In The Witchlands, Vivia and Merik's mother jumped off a bridge when the latter was seven.
  • In Worm, Taylor's mother died two and a half years before the story began because she was driving while on her cell phone.
  • In You Look Different in Real Life, Keira's mom left while Five at Eleven was being filmed. Her father broke the news to her on camera, resulting in a twenty-second shot of her crying. Critics called the scene exploitative.
  • In Zeroes, Mob was raised by her father, who refuses to tell her anything about her mother.

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