With Thanksgiving next week and the rest of the holidays right around the corner, we thought it was fitting that you have some books to read about dysfunctional families. Check out these wonderfully tragic tales–both fiction and non-fiction–that might make your family look a whole lot better.
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
The best-selling novel which was recently turned into a movie follows the Foxman family as they gather under the same roof for the first time in years after the death of their father. Lead character Judd Foxman is not only grieving from his father’s death, but also from his wife’s affair with his boss. The expresses what it’s like when adult siblings get together after being apart for so long: utter madness. A truly touching and funny novel, Tropper’s book should definitely be on your holiday reading list.
Very appropriate for the upcoming holiday, The Ice Storm takes place over Thanksgiving weekend in 1973 when two families are unexpectedly pushed together due to dangerous weather. It’s the peak of the sexual revolution, and the Williams and Hood families are dealing with social and political issues in their suburban Connecticut neighborhood. The story is told from four family members’ perspectives, while surrounded with issues like adultery, alcoholism, and drug use in the 70s. It’s definitely a “different” but fascinating look at dysfunctional families.
A collection of David Sedaris’ essays, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim explores some of the humorous and “absurd” things that society participates in. He discusses our hidden motives and shameful desires—all while bringing in a real perspective from interactions with his boyfriend and family. Many novels about dysfunctional families tell a story of a meet-up or event in their lives. Sedaris really nails many truths about society and gives readers a real look at the struggles families face everyday.
This look at family dynamics comes together in the late-1990s when the Lambert family meets for Christmas to confront their father’s ailing state as he suffers from Parkinson’s disease. The book follows the Midwestern family as the three grown children have fled for the east coast, but managed to make messes out of their own lives. This book is relatable due to its familiar tone of children wanting to escape their parent’s home and make a life for themselves.
Shipstead’s debut novel follows the Van Meter’s, a WASP-y New England family, as they prepare for the marriage of their very pregnant daughter to an appropriate suitor. However, the father of the bride Winn Van Meter is not having a good time, and after being shunned from his country club and feeling like a stranger in his own house, he reflects on this. An interesting read that pokes fun at preppy lovers of colorful shorts, it gives readers an interesting take on “forced reunions”.
A truly dysfunctional family—considering all the characters are not related, but yet live in the same household—Running with Scissors is a memoir that follows Augusten from age 12, through his parent’s divorce, and his eventual need to live with his mother’s psychiatrist. This is a very intense novel, and Augusten deals with numerous adult situations. Although considered a bizarre memoir—it really represents the ultimate family dysfunction.
Winter Street will get you in the mood for some Christmas drama. Kelley Quinn is a father of four and owner of the Winter Street Inn located in Nantucket. Although he is looking forward to spending the holidays with his family, they might have another idea when he walks in on his second wife Mitzi kissing “Santa Claus” (anyone feeling a song coming on?). From there the usual family drama unfolds—but it’s a touching novel about being home for the holidays.