The best books about deeply lovable dysfunctional families

Katie O'Rourke Author Of Finding Charlie
By Katie O'Rourke

Who am I?

I was born and raised in New England, growing up along the seacoast of New Hampshire. I went to college in Massachusetts and graduated with a degree in gender and sexuality. I live in Tucson, Arizona with my sweet yellow lab and even sweeter boyfriend. I’m a hybrid author. My debut novel, Monsoon Season, was traditionally published along with A Long Thaw, which I later rereleased on my own. Finding Charlie was chosen for publication by KindleScout in 2015. My fourth book, Blood & Water launched in 2017. I write the kind of fiction I like to read: character-driven, relationship-focused, and emotionally complex.


I wrote...

Finding Charlie

By Katie O'Rourke,

Book cover of Finding Charlie

What is my book about?

It isn't like Charlie to stay out all night without calling, but maybe Olivia doesn't know her little sister as well as she thought. When Charlie vanishes without warning, the people who love her are worried sick. Even if the law considers her an adult at nineteen, Charlie's still the baby of her already broken family. Older sister Olivia is determined to figure out what's happened. She finds a lost cell phone, an abandoned car, and a shady boyfriend she's never met before. And he's not the only secret Charlie's been keeping. This disappearance feels uncomfortably familiar, reminding Olivia and her father of another loss years before. But this will be different, Olivia swears. Charlie's coming back.

The books I picked & why

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The Condition

By Jennifer Haigh,

Book cover of The Condition

Why this book?

Jennifer Haigh's novel is a family saga that reads like a post-mortem. With alternating narration, each of the five family members gives their perspective on what led to the family's demise and current state. The novel's title, The Condition, seems to refer specifically to one child in the family who has been diagnosed with a rare medical condition called Turner's Syndrome. But throughout the book, it becomes clear that each family member has developed their own "condition" or way of existing that is just as much a part of their identity.

The Condition

By Jennifer Haigh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Condition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Everything I Never Told You

By Celeste Ng,

Book cover of Everything I Never Told You

Why this book?

In Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng follows the Lee family as they deal with the repercussions of their eldest daughter's mysterious death. It's the 1970s and the Lees are the only mixed-race family in their community. When high school junior Lydia is found dead, it's unclear how much the isolation of being the only "Oriental" played a part. What does become clear is that her family didn't know her as well as they thought. With an omniscient narrator, the author is able to know the thoughts and memories of each character so the reader understands everything they knew and everything they never told each other.

Everything I Never Told You

By Celeste Ng,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Everything I Never Told You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed debut novel by the author of Little Fires Everywhere and Our Missing Hearts

"A taut tale of ever deepening and quickening suspense." -O, the Oprah Magazine

"Explosive . . . Both a propulsive mystery and a profound examination of a mixed-race family." -Entertainment Weekly

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia's body…

The Children's Crusade

By Ann Packer,

Book cover of The Children's Crusade

Why this book?

The major drama in The Children's Crusade revolves around four adult children deciding whether it's time to sell their childhood home. Each sibling tells their own story in first-person narratives and these chapters are interwoven with omniscient narratives that describe their earlier lives. Each character is such a fascinating individual and while their adult voices are distinct from each other, they're also completely recognizable in their portrayal as children. This book explores the unique bond between people you’ve known your whole life.

The Children's Crusade

By Ann Packer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Children's Crusade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Daughter's Keeper

By Ayelet Waldman,

Book cover of Daughter's Keeper

Why this book?

Waldman is an expert at her depiction of the complicated mother/daughter relationship. Every interaction between Olivia and Elaine is thick with their history of built-up resentment and guilt, an intense love that can often overwhelm and feel burdensome, the competing desires to please and to hurt complicating every moment.

Daughter's Keeper

By Ayelet Waldman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daughter's Keeper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Bellflower

By Mary Vensel White,

Book cover of Bellflower

Why this book?

Each of these vignettes is exquisite on its own and you're free to read it as if that’s all it is. But after you've read a few of the stories, you'll see this is a collection of pieces that fit together to make a greater, more meaningful, whole. The character you fell in love with in the beginning, who you were sorry to see go, will turn up again. The collection spans the lifetime of three main characters and their family networks and reminds us that, in the end, we’re all connected.

Bellflower

By Mary Vensel White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bellflower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dysfunctional families, family secrets, and New England?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dysfunctional families, family secrets, and New England.

Dysfunctional Families Explore 66 books about dysfunctional families
Family Secrets Explore 97 books about family secrets
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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