Book List

Dysfunctional YA Families

December 19, 2016
Diego Molano Rodriguez
Riveted Editorial Board

The holiday season is upon us! For some, this time of year is a magical opportunity to spend time with loved ones and make memories together. For others, the thought of spending time with family members is just slightly more appealing than oral surgery. YA books are rife with families that make most of us elated that the worst we have to deal with is Aunt Rita’s tendency to double dip in the French Onion jelly. As a firm believer that each unhappy family is unique, I have decided to put together a list of my favorite (i.e. worst) dysfunctional families in YA.

Did I miss any of your favorite (or most hated) dysfunctional families? Let us know in the comments below, and of course, don’t forget to check out some of the appropriately dysfunctional YA families in our December free reads!

Flowers In The Atticby V.C. Andrews

At the top of the stairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent, and struggling to stay alive . . .

They were a perfect family, golden and carefree—until a heartbreaking tragedy shattered their happiness. Now, for the sake of an inheritance that will ensure their future, the children must be hidden away out of sight, as if they never existed. Kept on the top floor of their grandmother’s vast mansion, their loving mother assures them it will be just for a little while. But as brutal days swell into agonizing months and years, Cathy, Chris, and twins Cory and Carrie, realize their survival is at the mercy of their cruel and superstitious grandmother . . . and this cramped and helpless world may be the only one they ever know.

Book One of the Dollanganger series, the sequels include Petals in the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows. Then experience the attic from Christopher’s point of view in Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth and Christopher’s Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger.

Wild Rosesby Deb Caletti

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Morgan lives with a time bomb (a.k.a. her stepfather, Dino Cavalli). To the public, Dino is a world-renowned violin player and composer. To Cassie, he's an erratic, self-centered bully. And he's getting worse: He no longer sleeps, and he grows increasingly paranoid. Before, Cassie was angry. Now she is afraid.

Enter Ian Waters: a brilliant young violinist, and Dino's first-ever student. The minute Cassie lays eyes on Ian she knows she's doomed. Cassie thought she understood that love could bring pain, but this union will have consequences she could not have imagined.

In the end, only one thing becomes clear: In the world of insanity, nothing is sacred....

Harry Potter Seriesby J.K. Rowling

Now for the first time ever, J.K. Rowling’s seven bestselling Harry Potter books are available in a stunning paperback boxed set! The Harry Potter series has been hailed as “one for the ages” by Stephen King and “a spellbinding saga’ by USA Today. And most recently, The New York Times called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the “fastest selling book in history.” This is the ultimate Harry Potter collection for Harry Potter fans of all ages!

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cakeby Aimee Bender

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she's privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father's detachment, her mother's transgression, her brother's increasing retreat from the world. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can t discern.

The Virgin Suicidesby Jeffrey Eugenides

In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, "The Virgin Suicides" is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.

We Have Always Lived in the Castleby Shirley Jackson

Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.

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