The best books with female protagonists from dysfunctional families

The Books I Picked & Why

The Glass Castle

By Jeannette Walls

Book cover of The Glass Castle

Why this book?

This book got lodged into my soul the day I read it. Here’s a girl with well-meaning yet destructive parents, and the belief she has in them, her father especially, is so heartbreaking. Have you ever loved someone who can’t stop letting you down? Then this book is a must-read.


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Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir

By Donna M. Johnson

Book cover of Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir

Why this book?

Donna Johnson grew up as a follower of David Terrell, a big tent revivalist in the 1960s and 1970s. As a former atheist, the book spoke to me because it reminded me of why I was once reluctant to follow Jesus. It captures the way man twists God’s Word for his own purposes, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. Yet Johnson reminds us that love ultimately heals all wounds.


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The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity

By Axton Betz-Hamilton

Book cover of The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity

Why this book?

This book hooked me from the get-go. Axton Betz-Hamilton is raised by two parents who are the victims of stolen identities. She lives in a world of paranoia fostered by this incident and watches as the two people she’s closest to begin to turn on each other. Years later, Axton discovers she’s also the victim of identity theft and the journey she takes to figure out why is a nail-biter!


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Rosie Colored Glasses

By Brianna Wolfson

Book cover of Rosie Colored Glasses

Why this book?

I’m recommending this book because it made me cry, and I don’t cry. The warped triangle between two divorced parents and their daughter is tragic enough, but what really stirred me was the way Willow so fiercely wants to live life with her “fun” mom, not really understanding that not everything in life is as it seems.


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Where'd You Go, Bernadette

By Maria Semple

Book cover of Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Why this book?

Bernadette is technically from a dysfunctional family but that dysfunction is mostly centered around her. She’s an incredibly intelligent recluse who mysteriously leaves her daughter and husband after a school fundraiser goes south. I could relate to Bernadette’s paranoia and the way fear can rear its ugly head if you’re not careful.


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