Book and Families

Family. It can be beautiful; it can be brutal; it’s usually somewhere in between. There’s both the blessing and the curse of it being meant to be unconditional. There’s the family you’re born into and the family you can find. The dream and the reality. Basically, it makes for good book content.

One of the families most of us feel a kinship to is the Alcott family in Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women.  I wrote about my recent reread of Little Women here and let’s just say my views on many of the family members were different this time around. The way in which I now think about the book versus how I read it as a young girl made me extra eager to read Virginia Kantra’s Meg and Jo, which comes out December 3. Thank you to Berkley Publishing for my copy!

For me, a good retelling should have the same spirit as the classic and also offer some new insight. This book definitely did that.  I’m fascinated by the real life Mr. March, Bronson Alcott, and appreciated how Kantra represented his character in this story. I also liked the nuanced approach to Meg’s relationship with John and the twist on Jo’s ambitions.  Of course, don’t go into this book expecting it to be Little Women 2.0 or a modern classic. It’s supposed to be fun! Also, there is closed door romance, so if you’re more homebody Beth than rebel Jo, don’t let that shock you.  There was also something at the very end of the book that I was bothered by, although I’m interested to hear why the author made that choice and curious to hear how other people take it.  Nonetheless, turns out I’m here for Meg & Jo in any form.  If you’re looking to get extra hyped for the Little Women movie coming out (that trailer…), or just want to pick up something fun and cozy, this is the one!

Below I’m sharing some more books that really delve into those family dynamics.  These are affiliate links. If you use them, you’re giving a percentage of the money to me at no cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

14 Books That Dig Into Those Family Dynamics

  •  Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty
    • What happens when a wealthy New England family loses all their money?
  •  East of Eden
    • Generations explore the nature of good and evil. This Orange Penguin edition is beautiful.
  •  The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Meddlestone
    • On a much lighter note, I found this fairytale adventure inspired story to be so much and I loved getting to meet all of Bronte’s eccentric family members along her journey.
  • The House on Mango Street
    • Some of my favorite writing. I think the way Cisneros explores this family and the impact of the community, who become an extension of family, on the main character is so well done.
  •  The Dutch House
    • Everyone is talking about this one and with good reason.
  • The Floating Feldmans
    • Thank you to Berkley for my review copy of this one. I didn’t see as much buzz for it as I feel like it deserved. Force a very complicated family with each individual harboring a secret (pun intended) on a cruise ship together? Both funny and moving.
  • Little Big Love
    • Thank you to Berkley for this review copy from quite a bit ago now! So much heart and humor in this beautiful exploration of a family and their grief. Bonus points if you enjoy a precocious child.
  •  This Is How It Always Is
    • This is the book I would probably state for having changed my way of thinking the most. The family in this is beautiful.
  •  The Shell Seekers
    • The unfolding of three generations and the most charming of British cottages, if you’re into that sort of thing. Ignore the ugly cover, this one is a keeper.
  • The Priory
    • Dorothy Whipple is one of my favorite writers that Persephone Books has chosen to republish and this story thoughtfully explores the roles of women at that time through the family dynamics of two daughters on the cusp of adulthood, the young woman their father remarries, and their unmarried aunt.
  •  The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
    • So many complex outcomes of what happens with family along with poignant exploration the struggles of being African American, jail, eating disorders, emotional abuse, and so much more. Layered and reflective.
  •  The Light Years
    • A sprawling story of a large English family right before World War 2 that seemingly discusses anything and everything.
  •  Eventown
    • This middle grade dystopian book surprised me when it ended up being a really compelling depiction of how people handle grief.
  • Nevemoor
    • I also really love a good found family and the family that Morrigan Crow gains in this one is full of wonderfully quirky characters. If you haven’t read this series yet, please do yourself a favor and pick it up right away!
I know there are so many more out there because, well, family is everywhere and such a fascinating topic. Help us add to our lists? See any of the above that you’ve enjoyed?

If you would like to join in on the fun, please go to the submissions page!

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