The Best Books About Dysfunctional Families

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Leo Tolstoy famously wrote: “Happy families are all the same; Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. “When it comes to books on dysfunctional families, this couldn’t be more specific. From weirdly absurd to trauma-stricken families and haunted by dark secrets, these novels of family problems, drama, and mystery are fascinating reads and great tips for book clubs. They can make you happy for your own family … or provide you with the much needed escape. Here we go!

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Rachel Chu is dating the charming Nicholas Young, but gets the shock of her life when she visits his family in Singapore and discovers that they are incredibly rich and not at all enthusiastic about their existence. From emotional manipulation to using her immense wealth to exercise control, Rachel must decide if she has what it takes to become part of the young family.

The cover of all of this could be yours from Jami Attenberg

All of this could be yours by Jami Attenberg

Alex Tuchman is a lawyer grappling with her father’s intricate legacy. When she learns that her father is on his deathbed, she sees it as an opportunity to understand him better and to question her mother. But her entire family is struggling to come to terms with his impending death, and the answers are few as they need to find a way forward without repeating past mistakes.

My sister, the serial killer from Oyinkan Braithewaite

What would you do if you knew your sister was a serial killer? This is the premise of this short and powerful psychological thriller about Korede, who helped her sister Ayoola eliminate one too many “accidental” murders of her friends. Now Ayoola is keeping an eye out for meeting a doctor at the hospital where Korede works, and Korede has to decide where her loyalty lies.

Dig from AS King

The Hemmings made the American dream come true – they went from farmers to real estate millionaires. But they refuse to share their wealth with their descendants, leaving five of their estranged grandchildren to fight daily – until they find each other again and face the poisonous legacy their grandparents passed on.

Search for Sylvie-Lee-by-Jean-Kwok

Looking for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

Sylvie Lee is the oldest daughter, very smart and successful. Amy looks up at her older sister, but she is alarmed when Sylvie does not return home from a trip to visit a family in Amsterdam. While her parents aren’t concerned, Amy goes abroad to interview her family there and find out what happened to her sister, thereby uncovering family secrets.

The glass castle by Jeannette Walls

In this essay, Walls talks about her unconventional upbringing with two parents who were well educated but not ready to keep permanent jobs. Their careless parenting did not provide a stable home for their four children, so Jeannette and her siblings planned to flee to New York City as teenagers – only to let their parents follow suit and become squatters in an abandoned building.

The wangs versus the world of Jade Chang

Charles Wang built a cosmetics empire only to lose it all. With whatever he recaptured or confiscated, he takes his wife and two college-aged children on a road trip from California to New York to reconnect with their eldest daughter.

Jung Yun’s shelter

Kyung Cho and his wife have spent years living beyond their means, yearning for physical possessions and the wealth that Kyung Cho’s parents enjoy just a few miles away. But when a terrible incident leaves his parents vulnerable and needs protection, Kyung takes them in … and faces years of resentment and tension.

Ann Patchett’s Dutch home

Set over five decades, this book is about a wealthy family, their estate and how two siblings were banished from their comfortable upbringing and learned to rely on each other. But when they are finally invited back, the pressures of family expectations threaten their bond.

Angela Flournoy’s Turner House

The Turner house has been home to the extended family for decades, but when the matriarch Viola can no longer live there, her children are shocked that the house is only worth a fraction of the mortgage. They return home to decide how to proceed – and face their resentments and hang-ups along the way.

Number one Chinese restaurant by Lillian Li

Number one Chinese restaurant by Lillian Li

Beijing Duck House is a family-run restaurant run by family members and staff who might as well be families. When tragedy strikes, every member of the Beijing Duck House family is put to the test as they grapple with love and lust, long for what was before, and hope for a better future.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel Cover picture

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

In this graphic treatise, Bechdel shows how her father’s coming out and an ambiguous accident that caused his death had a profound effect on her when she got out herself in college. She looks at her childhood through a new lens and examines her parents’ dysfunctional marriage.

The Deep Water House by Jeni McFarland

In a small town in Michigan, three women return to the city they thought they had abandoned for good. At the center is Beth, one of the few black women from the city who finds love and dark secrets under her father’s roof.

Kathy Wang's Family Trust

Kathy Wang’s Family Trust

When Stanley Huang is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his family is dying to know how much he is actually worth and what to expect when he dies. His wife is tired, his children are dissatisfied in life and his ex is determined to see that their children get what they deserve, but first they have to fulfill his last and unexpected request.

Are you looking for more great books? Check out our list of the Book Club’s 20 Best Books! If you want something more personal, you should sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a quarterly subscription service that gives you personalized book recommendations based only on your favorite genres and books that you have already read and loved. Just fill out our reader survey and a real powerreader will write you a letter recommending three books that have been selected just for you. You can get your letter of recommendation in your email inbox within two weeks, or receive your referrals as brand new hardcover books from our partner Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine! Learn more and get started!

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