I'd read the older Mothers & Daughters, which is more lighthearted, and expected Mothers & Sons to be the same. Of the 12 stories, I truly enjoyed only three: the ones by Diana Gabaldon and her son Sam, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Eileen Goudge. There were a lot of reminisces of actual writers' lives in this book, versus pure fiction or fictionalised writing in Mothers & Daughters, and I didn't actually want to read about that.
Then again, the anthologies may have been different because there is truly a difference in the way mothers treat daughters and sons, and also the way that male authors write, so I really shouldn't complain. But I'd hoped to enjoy all the stories, as I did with Mothers & Daughters..oh well! Something tells me I'll prefer Fathers & Daughters (this was advertised in this book) to the Fathers & Sons anthology, if it exists.
"Looking after Lulu" by Eileen Goudge starts off the volume with young Eric rebelling against his mother just after the divorce and they've all moved cities so she can find work elsewhere. Mom finally realises that Eric is just bowed down by the added responsibility of having to be the man of the house, and while the ending is bittersweet, it's a real life look at how people have to cope in broken families.
Eric Jerome Dickey's "Fish Sammich with Cheese" is about a little boy who lives with foster parents, and how his birth mother comes one day to pick him up in what she figures is going to be a get-rich scheme. Parental irresponsibility figures highly in this story, and how the child gets back to his foster parents is heartwarming.
Diana Gabaldon's "Mirror Image" has got to be the best story in the collection. Set in a fantasy world, this whodunnit involves royalty, twin brothers, and convoluted family relationships. This book should be read for this story alone.
"Finding Rose" by Maxine O'Callaghan isn't among the stories I liked, but is still acknowledged as a good story. Sean's father is rapidly going senile and has his stepmother to look after him, but Sean still wonders about why his own mother abandoned him when he was five. He finally decides to look for her, and while he doesn't get definite answers, he gets enough of one to realise that she probably never did abandon him after all.
Eileen Dryer's "Variations on a theme" is an equally good story. She writes about her changing relationship with her son from babyhood up till the time he gets married, and how the phrase "I love you" can mean so many different things over the years.
The other stories are probably best read if you're interested in the authors' lives. I wanted a bit more distance away from real life and was only able to get it with fewer than half of the stories from this book.