Moms tend to be pretty complicated characters in books with young female protagonists. On one hand, the story's typically told from said female character's point of view, which usually casts them in a pretty negative light. But on the other, looking deeper into their characters also reveals the frustrations and fears of women with children who are coming of age. Marie, Kristina's mom, is no exception. While she has a lot of negative traits and makes some mistakes, her concern and love for Kristina are also pretty obvious.
First of all, Marie wholeheartedly admits that, apart from her daughters, her first marriage was a mistake. "I was too young, clueless," she tells Kristina. "He was a self-serving bastard" (My Mom Will Tell You.4-5). Well, then. Based on Kristina's assessment, her mom changed for the worse after she married her second husband, Scott, causing her to transfer her affections to him while leaving little for her children:
I've been alone since my mom met Scott. He sucked the nectar from her heart like a famished butterfly. No nurture, no nourishment left for Kristina. (Aboard United 1425.5)
Neglect of her children isn't the only reason why Marie bears at least some blame for Kristina's descent into darkness. Marie is going through a pretty serious midlife crisis, having decided to reinvent herself as an author and workout fiend. Kristina describes her "growing frustration at a stalled career and family life's daily limitations" (Of Course, When I Was Little.5-6), as well as her tendency to go through her "I'm Not Your Damn Servant" (Suddenly, However.4) phases where she refuses to cook for her family. Dang. This lady has a serious selfish streak… kind of like her daughter.
Not only that, but she has serious problems with denial. Marie clearly knows that something is up with her daughter from the moment Kristina gets off the plane from her dad's, but seems to avoid investigating the problem like the plague. Scott even accuses her of idealizing Kristina and refusing to see the obvious drug problem. "Are you blind, Marie?" he says. "You don't sleep like that unless you're crashing […] We both know the scene. You just refuse to believe it" (Jerked Awake.2-3). It's time to tune in, Marie—your daughter needs you.
Okay, so the picture Kristina paints of her mom is less than flattering. She doesn't have the foresight to immediately get the story of what happened at her dad's out of her daughter and repeatedly hides from evidence that clearly points to meth use. Nonetheless, it's clear that Kristina thinks that Marie's a good mom—and a good grandma. "I watch my mom with my son," she describes at the end of the book, "loving him, as she must have loved me. She's patient when he cries. She paces him to sleep. I wish I would be like that" (Happy Endings.2-3). Aw.