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  • Alfie Atkins' 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 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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  • Gunilla Bergström, author of the popular Swedish Alfons Åberg books, is often asked where Alfons's mom is (Alfons appears to be living alone with his dad). Her answer is...anti-climatic: Alfons's mom is absent from the books because Bergström has never written a story that required her presence.
  • In the Alisa Selezneva series by Kir Bulychev, Alisa nominally has both parents, but only her father is actually present.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Cinderella Circumstances. 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.
  • In Mufaros 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Santa Olivia: Loup's mother dies in her childhood.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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' mother died giving birth to her.
  • 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.
  • 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 not shown or mentioned at all. Richard's 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Chris Roberson's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Ravens novel 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Zeroes, Mob was raised by her father, who refuses to tell her anything about her mother.


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