43 Of Your Favorite Books About Complicated Families

This Riot Recommendation is sponsored by Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy.

A debut novel about family secrets, first love, forgiveness, and finding one’s way in the world from award-winning writer, actor, and director Andrew McCarthy. When fifteen-year-old Lucy Willows discovers that her father has a child from a brief affair, she begins to question everything she thinks she knows about her life. Worse, Lucy’s father’s secret is now her own, one that isolates her from her friends, family—even her boyfriend, Simon. When Lucy runs away to Maine to visit her mysteriously estranged grandfather, she finally begins to get to the bottom of her family’s secrets and lies.


The estranged siblings reunited by a will, the parents that micromanage their grown children, the deceptions employed to protect the family unit…show us a book about family and we’ll show you dysfunction.

We asked you to share your favorite books about complicated families, and you responded. Here are 43 of your favorites!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Ordinary People by Judith Guest

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Gilded Cage by Vic James

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

One Half From the East by Nadia Hashimi

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany

The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

August: Osage County by Tracy Letts

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Good Night Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan

The World According to Garp by John Irving

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Once We Were Sisters by Sheila Kophler

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Big and Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd) by Julie Bowe

The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

A Million Junes by Emily Henry

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

You Don’t Know Me by David Klass

This is Where I Leave You Jonathan Tropper

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

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