92 books like Emma's Laugh

By Diana Kupershmit,

Here are 92 books that Emma's Laugh fans have personally recommended if you like Emma's Laugh. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Educated: A Memoir

Penny Lane Author Of Redeemed: A Memoir of a Stolen Childhood

From my list on people breaking from their pasts to claim their lives back.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an adult child of an alcoholic father and an abusive and dysfunctional stepmother who ran away from home at sixteen and fell into the wrong crowd in my search for love and family. Yet after years of hard personal work, I have overcome and triumphed over these obstacles to become stable, happy, and successful, in a good marriage, raising a great son in a loving, stable home. I’ve gone on to help and inspire others to do the same, including writing the book Redeemed, A Memoir of a Stolen Childhood.

Penny's book list on people breaking from their pasts to claim their lives back

Penny Lane Why did Penny love this book?

I identified with Tara Westover while reading her memoir because of her secluded and restrictive upbringing. Like her, my upbringing made me feel left out, “other,” different from normal kids, not allowed the usual activities that other kids could do and kept from learning and growing in my own way.

I didn’t understand how these rules affected me until I saw my angst in her own words of isolation, yearning, and rebellion. It gave me hope that our desire for self-fulfillment and actualization is universal and stronger than the people who try, for good reasons or bad, to keep us down.

It is an amazing book. I could barely put it down. 

By Tara Westover,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Educated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MULTI-MILLION COPY BESTSELLER

Selected as a book of the year by AMAZON, THE TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES, GUARDIAN, NEW YORK TIMES, ECONOMIST, NEW STATESMAN, VOGUE, IRISH TIMES, IRISH EXAMINER and RED MAGAZINE

'One of the best books I have ever read . . . unbelievably moving' Elizabeth Day
'An extraordinary story, beautifully told' Louise O'Neill
'A memoir to stand alongside the classics . . . compelling and joyous' Sunday Times

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the end of the world. She was never put in school, never taken to the doctor. She did not even have a birth certificate…


Book cover of Britt-Marie Was Here

Debbie Chein Morris Author Of We Used to Dance: Loving Judy, My Disabled Twin

From my list on getting through life’s challenges.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of fifty-three, I was suddenly thrust into the role of primary caregiver for my disabled twin sister who was unable to sit, stand, feed herself, eat solid foods, or communicate. Up to that point, that role had been my mother’s with the help of home-attendants; but my mother was aging and the care provided by the ever-changing attendants was wanting. I was forced to place Judy in a nursing home. The challenge left me overwhelmed with the responsibility of overseeing her care and there were days I wondered if I could go on. With the support of family and friends, I was able to make it through.

Debbie's book list on getting through life’s challenges

Debbie Chein Morris Why did Debbie love this book?

Britt-Marie Was Here is a book of fiction. Nonetheless, it speaks to me as an example of persevering to get through life’s challenges.

Backman is a master of character development and I easily connected with the protagonist. I, like Britt Marie, have found myself outside my comfort zone, slowly moving forward to figure out how to navigate my new position in life.

For Britt Marie, it was living on her own in a new place, with new people, after leaving her husband upon whom she depended for everything; for me it was becoming a primary caregiver and decision-maker for my disabled twin sister.

Very different positions and yet sharing the challenge of accepting our new situation in life. I didn’t want the book to end.

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Britt-Marie Was Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Anxious People captivates readers with this “warm and satisfying” (People) story “about a woman rediscovering herself after a personal crisis…fans of Backman will find another winner in these pages” (Publishers Weekly).

Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. A disorganized cutlery drawer ranks high on her list of unforgivable sins. She is not one to judge others—no matter how ill-mannered, unkempt, or morally suspect they might be. It’s just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not…


Book cover of Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir

Debbie Chein Morris Author Of We Used to Dance: Loving Judy, My Disabled Twin

From my list on getting through life’s challenges.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of fifty-three, I was suddenly thrust into the role of primary caregiver for my disabled twin sister who was unable to sit, stand, feed herself, eat solid foods, or communicate. Up to that point, that role had been my mother’s with the help of home-attendants; but my mother was aging and the care provided by the ever-changing attendants was wanting. I was forced to place Judy in a nursing home. The challenge left me overwhelmed with the responsibility of overseeing her care and there were days I wondered if I could go on. With the support of family and friends, I was able to make it through.

Debbie's book list on getting through life’s challenges

Debbie Chein Morris Why did Debbie love this book?

In May of 2015, two-year-old Greta Greene was hit in the head by bricks falling from a nearby building while sitting on a bench with her grandmother. She died shortly after.

I remember hearing of it on the news and wondering how the parents and grandmother could survive such a trauma. Jayson Greene’s book tells us how. For me, it was a reminder that, even when the worst happens and we find ourselves in the dark of the tunnel, the light can shine again.

Reading this book I realized that this family made it through the same way I got through my own trauma: one step at a time, one day at a time; sometimes even just one small moment at a time.

By Jayson Greene,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Once More We Saw Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A gripping and beautiful book about the power of love in the face of unimaginable loss'
Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

'Extraordinary . . . both heartbreaking and life-affirming . . . you will find your heart magically expanded'
Mail on Sunday

'Unimaginably poetic . . . I learned a lot reading this book and have passed it on to others'
Jessie Cave, Red Magazine

'Greene's account of his loss is remarkably uplifting. It's hard-won proof that love can survive our worst fears and our darkest, most desperate emotions'
Daily Mail

'This minutely observed memoir will surely be helpful to…


Book cover of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Debbie Chein Morris Author Of We Used to Dance: Loving Judy, My Disabled Twin

From my list on getting through life’s challenges.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of fifty-three, I was suddenly thrust into the role of primary caregiver for my disabled twin sister who was unable to sit, stand, feed herself, eat solid foods, or communicate. Up to that point, that role had been my mother’s with the help of home-attendants; but my mother was aging and the care provided by the ever-changing attendants was wanting. I was forced to place Judy in a nursing home. The challenge left me overwhelmed with the responsibility of overseeing her care and there were days I wondered if I could go on. With the support of family and friends, I was able to make it through.

Debbie's book list on getting through life’s challenges

Debbie Chein Morris Why did Debbie love this book?

I first read this book shortly after it was published in 1981. I was looking for the answer to the question of why bad things happen in this world.

Kushner did not have an answer to that question, but insights into how we might face the challenges that life can present when those “bad things” happen. He, himself, went through a significant trauma: hearing that his young son had a progressive disease that would not allow him to live into adulthood. Yet Kushner found a way to survive and to move forward.

I’ve read this book multiple times. It always reinforces for me the idea that the difficulties we face in life are just part of living and that even though we may suffer through hard times, life is, indeed, worth living. We can and we must go on.

By Harold S. Kushner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Bad Things Happen to Good People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 bestselling inspirational classic from the nationally known spiritual leader; a source of solace and hope for over 4 million readers.

When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that meant the boy would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. In these pages, Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad…


Book cover of See No Color

Kristin Bartley Lenz Author Of The Art of Holding on and Letting Go

From my list on teen sports (and so much more).

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t a sporty teen, but I discovered rock climbing in my twenties and that later inspired my first novel, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go. I’m also a social worker, and even though my main character Cara is a competitive climber and the book features gripping (ha!) rock climbing scenes, the story is about much more – love and loss, finding home, the transformative power of nature. Sports and athleticism (or lack thereof) are something we can all relate to. What a great starting point for exploring our multi-faceted lives.

Kristin's book list on teen sports (and so much more)

Kristin Bartley Lenz Why did Kristin love this book?

This coming-of-age novel features a sixteen-year-old star baseball playing girl, but that’s just the beginning. Alex is biracial, raised in a white family, and she struggles to find where she fits in. Race, gender, identity, adoption, body image – this novel explores hard-hitting issues with the complexity they deserve. I especially appreciate that the author wrote from her own experience as a transracial adoptee.

By Shannon Gibney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked See No Color as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

"Transracial adoption is never oversimplified, airbrushed, or sentimentalized, but instead, it's portrayed with bracing honesty as the messy institution it is: rearranging families, blending cultural and biological DNA, loss and joy. An exceptionally accomplished debut." — Kirkus, starred review

For as long as she can remember, sixteen-year-old Alex Kirtridge has known two things about herself: She's a stellar baseball player. She's adopted.

Alex has had a comfortable childhood in Madison, Wisconsin. Despite some teasing, being a biracial girl in a wealthy white family hasn't been that big a deal. What mattered was that she was a star on the diamond,…


Book cover of American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption

Betty Culley Author Of The Name She Gave Me

From my list on adoption feels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went into foster care at nine months old, was adopted three years later, and as an adult I was reunited with five siblings I never knew I had. I’ve spent my whole life wondering or searching for the truths about my past. 

Betty's book list on adoption feels

Betty Culley Why did Betty love this book?

The dedication of this non-fiction book says, "...to all families separated by a culture of secrecy.” The book flap says, “Gabrielle Glaser breaks the secrecy that surrounded a lucrative network of adoption agencies, doctors, and social scientists.” One reason I knew I had to read this book was that it talked about Louise Wise Agency, the adoption agency I was adopted through. They are now closed, but their practices have since come under scrutiny. Because of their methods, I was told lies that I lived with for most of my childhood and was kept from reuniting with my siblings when they first started searching for me.

By Gabrielle Glaser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book

The shocking truth about postwar adoption in America, told through the bittersweet story of one teenager, the son she was forced to relinquish, and their search to find each other.

During the Baby Boom in 1960s America, women were encouraged to stay home and raise large families, but sex and childbirth were taboo subjects. Premarital sex was common, but birth control was hard to get and abortion was illegal. In 1961, sixteen-year-old Margaret Erle fell in love and became pregnant. Her enraged family sent her to a maternity home, and after she gave birth,…


Book cover of The Adoption Papers

Shanta Everington Author Of Another Mother: Curating and Creating Voices of Adoption, Surrogacy and Egg Donation

From my list on the adoption triangle in poetry and prose.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was going through the process of adopting my second child, after having my first by a more conventional route, I looked for diverse representations of mothering to help me make sense of my journey. These recommended books helped me to understand the lived experience from all sides of the adoption triangle: adoptee, birth mother, and adopter. I was curious about the experience of other mothers whose children have an additional mother and found a lack of life writing on surrogacy and egg donation. As a published novelist and poet, I decided to move into experimental life writing and undertook a PhD in Creative Writing to discover and write their stories.

Shanta's book list on the adoption triangle in poetry and prose

Shanta Everington Why did Shanta love this book?

Adoptee Jackie Kay’s poetry collection presents the voices of three speakers who are distinguished typographically: the daughter, the adoptive mother, and the birth mother.

Read in conjunction with Kay’s memoir on adoption, Read Dust Road, this poetry collection offers a fascinating insight into the adoption triangle through multiple versions of the same events. 

By Jackie Kay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jackie Kay tells the story of a black girl's adoption by a white Scottish couple, from three different viewpoints: the mother, the birth mother, and the daughter. The Adoption Papers won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. In 2022 The Adoption Papers was selected as one of ten books representing the 1990s in The Big Jubilee Read, a celebration of great books from across the Commonwealth to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, one of only three poetry collections out of 70 books on the list.


Book cover of The Birth Father's Tale

Holly Marlow Author Of Delly Duck: Why A Little Chick Couldn't Stay With His Birth Mother

From my list on helping adoptive parents be better parents.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an adoptive parent and I often use stories to help my children to understand and process emotive topics. While we were going through the adoption process, I couldn’t find any stories that adequately explained why some children can’t stay with their birth families, so I decided to create my own! I found the waiting during the adoption process quite unbearable and put every spare minute to good use, reading books by adoptees and birth parents, so that I could understand the experiences of the people affected most by adoption. These autobiographies were a tough, emotional read at times, but they all changed me for the better. 

Holly's book list on helping adoptive parents be better parents

Holly Marlow Why did Holly love this book?

It is rare to find the view of a birth father in a story or online, so I was keen to read this to help widen my perspectives. This insightful, reflective autobiography helped me to imagine how my son’s birth father may be affected by the adoption. Andrew shares how the loss of his son to adoption has affected so many of his choices throughout the rest of his life. I read this around the time that I was due to write a contact letter to my son’s birth parents, and I feel that it helped me to write something that I hope his birth parents will find supportive and reassuring, rather than a superficial update to “tick the box.”

By Andrew Ward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the first-ever British birth-father memoir, Andrew Ward reflects on his own experience of losing a child to adoption to show how a traumatic teenage incident complicated his life. Thirty years after the adoption Ward set out to break down barriers, find his son and seek resolution. In this book he describes his search and, through flashback stories, illustrates how being a birth father has impacted on his relationships with women, career decisions, writing projects and assembly of attitudes. This is a book about secrecy, shame and self-punishment, but it is also a book about wonderful friendships, amazing coincidences and…


Book cover of An Adoptee's Journey: Letters of My Life

Anna Anderson Author Of Survival Without Roots: Memoir of an Adopted Englishwoman

From my list on growing up adopted.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am adopted. I am a birth mother and also a mother through adoption. I have lived through all ‘three faces’ of adoption and know how each ‘face’ affects millions of people's lives all over the world. I am passionate that conversations around adoption need to come out of the closet and the secrecy surrounding the subject must disappear. By writing my books, I am on a mission to support adoptees, birth mothers, and adoptive parents and help them realise they are not alone. After publication of my first book in the Survival Without Roots trilogy, I am humbled that people are reaching out to say that reading Book One has helped them so much.  

Anna's book list on growing up adopted

Anna Anderson Why did Anna love this book?

Communication through letters is a lovely way to be able to say what you feel to all those in Gaynor’s life who shunned her, loved her, and abandoned her. She never met some of the recipients, but the feelings and emotions as an adoptee have remained lodged in her memory for years. Her book unearths them and unleashes them through the power of the written word. Gaynor does not hold back and writes her letters with an honesty and a rawness that is touching.

By Gaynor Cherieann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is the 1960s; a sixteen-year-old girl is in a mother and baby home; her heart is breaking as she prepares to give up her baby for adoption.

Shunned by society, she has no choice.

That baby was me.

Join me on my life’s journey through the letters I have written to everyone who has shared my unique story. Follow me as I find the courage to share this story, from my birth to my unhappy adoption to getting married and becoming a mum and granny.

Learn how I took control of my life after disassociating myself from my past,…


Book cover of Byrd

Caitlin Hamilton Summie Author Of Geographies of the Heart

From my list on the families we have and the families we make.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a book publicist of roughly twenty years, a writer, and a reader. My award-winning short story collection, To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts (Fomite Press, 2017), deals with family, reconciliation, loss, and hope. My first novel, Geographies of the Heart (Fomite Press) was released in January 2022. It’s about the importance of forgiveness, the power of legacies, and the fertile but fragile terrain that is family, the first geography to shape our hearts. I am surrounded by books, live and breathe books, work with books. Lucky me!

Caitlin's book list on the families we have and the families we make

Caitlin Hamilton Summie Why did Caitlin love this book?

Spare and poetic, this beautiful debut novel explores teenage pregnancy, adoption, and secrets. Addie Lockwood knows Roland Rhodes during high school. They live in a small Southern town and develop a friendship over an appreciation of blues music. But later, in their thirties, when they reconnect in California, Addie falls in love with Roland. When she later realizes she’s pregnant, she makes a critical and heartbreaking decision: she doesn’t tell Roland about the baby, whom she names Byrd, and she gives the child up for adoption. But Addie never stops thinking about Byrd, wondering, hoping one day he will fly back her way. This novel is gorgeously written and what an ending.

By Kim Church,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Chautauqua Prize Finalist, 2015
Crook's Corner Book Prize for Best Debut Novel Set in the American South, 2015
Independent Publisher Book Award, Bronze Medal for Literary Fiction, 2015
Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Long List, 2014
SIBA Book Award Long List, 2015
Balcones Fiction Prize Finalist, 2015

Addie Lockwood believes in books. Roland Rhodes believes in blues guitar. Coming of age in the small-town South of the 1970s, they form a friendship as extraordinary as it is unlikely.

They meet again in their disillusioned thirties, this time in California, where Roland's music career has landed him. Venice Beach is exotic, a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in adoption, disability, and foster care?

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