Book List

6 Books with Parents Who Are Just the Worst

March 25, 2022
Destiny Reyes

All of us have different relationships with our parents or parental figures. But one thing that is true for all of us is that there’s a period of our lives where we believe that they just don’t understand and never will. All the books in this list have characters with some seriously complicated relationships with their parents, something we can all relate to!

6 Books with Parents Who Are Just the Worst

1. Lawless Spaces by Corey Ann Haydu

Mimi is turning sixteen this year, arguably one of the most life changing years in an adolescent’s life. She’s dealing with the realities of growing into a woman, the pains of online bullying, and the new experience of having a boyfriend. During this time she needs her mother to be a shoulder to cry on, but instead her mother becomes withdrawn and secretive, spiraling from a horrifying sexual assault case being broadcasted all over the news. Like many teenage girls (myself included!), Mimi turns to journaling, but not coincidentally. Journaling not only serves as an outlet for her, but as a window into the lives of the women in her family – and most importantly, brings her closer to her mother!

2. Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch 

Anyone else ever stand at their door and threaten to leave just to get a reaction from their parents? No… just me? Zara’s relationship with her father was so complicated that she ACTUALLY had to run from it. Now she has a new life, and everything feels like a fresh start until she’s forced to reawaken the resilient survivor that lives within her. When the United States electrical grids go down, cutting off the country’s power, Zara is forced to face the tragedy that drove her away from her father. Will she be able to face him and the home she left behind?

3. Trigger by N. Griffin

Didi has everyone beat for the most complicated relationship with a parent. Didi’s father keeps telling her that he’s grooming her for when the world comes to an end, and they must fight the rest of the world. As an over-achieving daughter Didi only wants his approval and to make him proud as can be. But after the many times she’s threatened with the Hurt Stick when she misbehaves, she’s left to question whether her dad does truly love her, even though he says he does. Should she just keep doing exactly as he says without question, or will she become her own person and demand a different form of love from her father?

4. Girl Unframed by Deb Caletti

In the middle of this thrilling mystery is a mother-daughter relationship that is so complicated that it causes loyalties to be called into question. Sydney Reilly has a famous mother, one who has always placed beauty and male attention above her own daughter. Sydney hesitates to go back home to San Fransisco because her mother has never made her feel welcomed in the way she wishes she would be. Will Sydney’s endless efforts to build a relationship with her mother be rewarded or will her gut feeling be right? Just how much will she regret not letting this relationship go?

5. Where Secrets Lie by Eva V. Gibson

When your parents keep family secrets from you it can be annoying, but let’s hope they’re not as insane as the secrets Teddy, Ben, and Amy’s families are keeping from them. Amy, Teddy and Ben are the three best friends that anyone can have… until Amy and Teddy’s sexual tension causes the friend group to implode. Amy dreads going back to River Run for the summer, afraid of what she’ll be forced to confront, but little does she know that the real tension will come from the dark truth that ties their families together. One summer changes their friendship forever, and the next summer will change their memories of their upbringing forever too.

6. Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Nothing is more frustrating than when your parents always have something to say about your love life. Attempting to keep them quiet can get you into messy situations like the one Chloe Wang has found herself in. Chloe is desperate to bring a worthy boyfriend home to impress her traditional parents, but in order to find one they’ll love she has to rent that boyfriend! Chloe is bringing a man she doesn’t know home to her tight-knit Asian American community, what could go wrong? Her extreme attempts to get her parents off of her back are obviously going to backfire, but how? Read the book to find out!

Ready for another great read? Check out these must-read books with complicated family dynamics!

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