About four years ago, a friend gave me a copy of Victoria Redel's novel Loverboy
. I was haunted by this story of a woman who is a wildly exciting mother who creates this magical childhood for her son. She makes a game out of everything and opens up to him a world that is mysterious and wondrous—and exclusively theirs.
I kept thinking, Oh God, I wish I could have been this kind of mother
. I got married and had a child when I was really young. It would have been the most wonderful thing never to have wanted to work again, to be totally satisfied just to be a parent.
Near the end of the book, the boy turns 6 and he's ready to start school. She can't imagine letting him go into the world to be mediocre, to be normal, to be hatefully middle of the road. Then you realize she's taken her own life and her son's.
I was so stunned. For almost three-quarters of the book, I had envied this character's devotion to her son, and she winds up committing this horrible act. But she believed she was taking care of her child—and that's a universal theme of parenting. It's hard for anyone to see their children get older and become more independent.
This story was so dark, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. I said to my husband [Kevin Bacon], "You should read this." He saw it in a visual way and said, "Let's see if we can get the film rights." (We did; Kevin directed the movie, and I played the mother.) It's a beautiful book—one you can't put down. I feel the same about the five on my list. Kyra Sedgwick stars in
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