10 Must-Read Family Dramas

By Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

Here at TheReadingRoom, we’re super-excited about the forthcoming release of Us by David Nicholls (author of One Day), which is an honest and deftly funny novel about what holds marriages and families together. It’s the story of a husband trying to rescue the relationship with the woman he loves, and a father striving to get closer to the son who has always felt like a stranger. And it got us thinking: what are the best books about families? Specifically, what books do we consider the 10 Must-Read Family Dramas?

The SlapThe Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

When a man slaps another couple’s child at a neighborhood barbecue, the event send unforeseeable shockwaves through the lives of all who are witness to it. Told from the points of view of eight people who were present, The Slap shows how a single action can change the way people think about how they live, what they want, and what they believe forever. More >  

Handle With CareHandle With Care by Jodi Picoult

Every expectant parent will tell you that they don’t want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they’d been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of “luckier” parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. More >


Where'd You GoWhere’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To Elgie Branch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she’s his hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled wife. To fellow mothers at the school gate, she’s a menace. To design experts, she’s a revolutionary architect. And to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, quite simply, mum. Then Bernadette disappears. And Bee must take a trip to the end of the earth to find her. More >  

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A murder . . . a tragic accident . . . or just parents behaving badly?  What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what? Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. More >  

Defending JacobDefending Jacob by William Landay

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis–a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control. More >  

The FarmThe Farm by Tom Rob Smith

Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother’s unwilling judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a horrible crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father. More >  

The Lovely BonesThe Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Susie Salmon is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her — her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. More >  

This is Where I Leave YouThis Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman clan has congregated in years. There is one conspicuous absence: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose affair with his radio-shock-jock boss has recently become public. Simultaneously mourning the demise of his father and his marriage, Judd joins his dysfunctional family as they reluctantly sit shiva-and spend seven days and nights under the same roof. More >  

The Burgess BoysThe Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

Haunted by the accident that killed their father when they were young, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their home in Maine for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his big-hearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister urgently calls them home. More >  

Night RoadNight Road by Kristin Hannah

For 18 years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own. She does everything to keep her kids on track for college and out of harm’s way. It has always been easy, until senior year of high school.  Suddenly she is at a loss.  Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them. And on a summer night, her worst fears come true. More >

Check out all 10 Must-Read Family Dramas and let us know your favorites in the comments below.