Whether they present modern times or past, historical times, or even things that happen in the future, many authors have approached in their works the theme of the family. The most successful such books are the ones that depict different, unique cases.
Readers tend to devour the lives of characters that are much different from their own, even more if the story is sad. Here you can see the top 39 books about dysfunctional families.
Toni Morrison writes about a woman and her daughter trying to start anew, while being haunted by the past.
2. The Corrections
Jonathan Franzen presents the transformation of the life of a family, from order to chaos, while approaching themes such as dementia, alcoholism, depression and adultery.
3. Sharp Objects
After being released from a psychiatric facility, a woman returns to her hometown to get in touch with her sister and mother who also suffer from psychological disorders, as recounted by author Gillian Flynn.
4. Fun Home
Alison Bechdel writes a sour tragicomedy, narrating the events in the life of a woman who finds out her father is gay. However, before finding out more, he dies and leaves her to find out the mysteries herself.
5. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
David Sedaris approaches many family issues, all in the setting of a failed vacation trip.
6. Game Of Thrones
The beloved series written by George R.R. Martin fascinates millions of fans with its dark themes like adultery, incest, pedophilia and gory deaths.
7. Push: A Novel
The author, Sapphire, recounts the sad events in the teenage life of Precious Jones.
8. The Secret History
A group of students form their own family, gathering all their defects and addictions in one place, as presented by Donna Tartt.
9. This is Where I Leave You
Jonathan Tropper writes about the unorthodox and nasty discussions between people during a funeral.
10. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Diaz presents the life of Oscar Wao, whose family members are rebels and runaways, as narrated by his friend and roommate.
11. The Glass Castle
Jeanette Walls presents her own childhood with her alcoholic father and artist mother, trying to highlight the good things among the bad ones.
12. Delicious Foods
A widow tries to reunite with her son while being trapped on a weird farm, as narrated by James Hannaham.
Jeffrey Eugenides recounts the story of Callie who discovers the history of her family and her identity.
14. White Teeth
Zadie Smith shows the lives of two Second World War veterans and their dysfunctional families.
15. Running With Scissors
A 12 year old has to go through harsh events in the Victorian mansion of the psychiatrist of his mother in this book written by Augusten Burroughs.
16. The Liars’ Club
Mary Karr’s memoir presents her childhood in East Texas, something that can be defined as a true wild ride.
17. We the Animals
Three children have to grow up on their own and take care of each other, being neglected by their young parents in this book by Justin Torres.
18. The Patrick Melrose Novels
Edward St Aubyn’s novel deals with dark and deviant matters, such as adultery, child abuse, suicide and addiction.
19. Salvage the Bones
Threatened by Hurricane Katrina, a 14 year old pregnant girl has to make it through life, supported only by her brothers, in this book by Jesmyn Ward.
20. Random Family
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s book revolves around the life of a community in Bronx, a result of a 10 year research.
21. Geek Love
Katherine Dunn marvellously creates a freak circus, where family relations are undoubtedly formed.
22. Silver Sparrow
Tayari Jones recounts the story of man with two families, focusing on the meeting of his two daughters.
23. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Acclaimed by both critics and readers, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson shows the events in a perfect example of a dysfunctional family.
24. The Color Purple
Alice Walker depicts the story of two sisters in Africa who however live in completely different worlds.
25. One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel García Márquez, winner of the Nobel Prize, pictured the events in a family happening over seven generations.
26. As I Lay Dying
Another perfect example of a book approaching the theme of dysfunctional families on a road trip is As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner.
27. The Prince of Tides
Pat Conroy’s book includes a combination of unlikely themes, such as abusive or absent parents, guerilla warfare and a pet tiger.
28. The Descendants
Kaui Hart Hemmings recounts the story of a man who searches for his wife’s lover in order for her to say goodbye before she is taken off life support.
29. The Ice Storm
In this novel by Rick Moody, two families are stranded by an ice storm during Thanksgiving and must cope with each other.
30. The Family Fang
Kevin Wilson presents two artists as they make a family and paint their lives.
31. The Darkest Child
The book by Delores Phillips revolves around a dark child and what she has to go through in the 1950s.
32. Flowers in the Attic
V.C. Andrews presents the lives of four siblings trapped in an attic by their cold hearted grandmother.
33. I Know This Much is True
Two twins attempt to reconcile their past with their present in this book by Wally Lamb.
34. We Need to Talk About Kevin
The book by Lionel Shriver deals with a very actual problem of children who become shooters.
35. The God of Small Things
Arundhati Roy presents the hardships a single mother has to go through during 1969 in India.
36. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
The story of a chimpanzee raised as a human is approached in this book by Karen Joy Fowler.
37. Breath, Eyes, Memory
Edwidge Danticat recounts the story of a woman from Haiti who goes to New York to meet her biological mother.
38. The Poisonwood Bible
The story of Barbara Kingsolver follows a family who moved to Belgian Congo in 1959.
39. Anna Karenina
One of Leo Tolstoy’s most popular books follows the degradation of a woman in society.