Why We Came to the City
It’s no surprise that the inseparable five-some at the heart of Jansma’s novel bond over a Mexican sitcom resembling “Friends”: Like those famous TV twenty-somethings, these five-years-out-of-college pals cling to one another as a reliable support system against professional, financial, and personal woes. And when one of their own is diagnosed with bone cancer, they’re forced to truly embrace the meaning of familial devotion.
The Hired Girl
Laura Amy Schlitz
Fleeing a life on her family’s farm with no future—not to mention a father who burns her books—fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs is taken in by a wealthy Jewish family. Despite the fact that her role within the family is as a domestic servant, Joan is nonetheless enchanted by the affection, respect, and value of higher education that bind the family–all things she begins to experience as she becomes less of a hired girl and more of a surrogate child.
Mary Doria Russell
A mix of coincidences (and perhaps divine intervention) draw the crew members of the “Stella Maris” to the Jesuit mission to land on Rakhat…but it’s only after they’re stranded on the distant planet that this motley crew becomes family. A foolish error seals their fates, and their first reaction is to reaffirm how they are the daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers that each other never thought they would have.
When you discover that you’ve inherited a large estate, who do you share it with? Your four best friends, of course. But by binding five people to this inheritance, and forcing them to give up all other personal relationships, Daniel March finds that his chosen family can be fractured by the same conflicts that split up blood relations: money, secrets, legacy, and trust.
You can’t choose your family. For as many dysfunctional broods who manage to make things work, there are those blood families for whom the arbitrary relationships dictated by birth and other bits of fate isn’t enough to stay together. In many cases—change, abandonment, different outlooks—many find their true families are the ones that they choose for themselves. These books contain some of the most unlikely families, brought together by real estate, abandoned in cars or at Walmarts, stranded on alien planets, or bound by utopian affinities and dystopian factions. In every case (well, except for one), they’re more of a family than the kin who raised them.
Bookshelf curated by Natalie Zutter.
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