David Greenfeld is convinced his family is crazy. His younger brother changed his name and stopped speaking, and his parents are hippies who decided to send him to the local public middle school, where he’s one of few white students. At school, it’s hard for Dave to make friends, but he eventually bonds with Marlon, a smart kid in his grade who isn’t afraid to call Dave out about his assumptions around black culture. As Dave and Marlon become closer, Dave begins to realize he’s not the only one with a family that feels different.
Tara Westover’s upbringing was definitely outside the norm. Her parents were survivalists, so instead of going to school, she spent her days preparing for the end of the world. When Tara’s brother managed to get into college, he returned to the family home with new knowledge of the outside world, and gave Tara the idea for how she could create a new life for herself.
There There explores the lives of a group of urban Native Americans who all plan to attend the Big Oakland Powwow. While their individual stories diverge, themes of violence, identity, and addiction weave throughout each narrative—leaving many of the families with a permanent sense of loss.
When the children in the Gold family decide to go to a psychic who can tell them when they’ll die, they have no idea how much it will affect them. After their father dies, Simon and Klara run away to San Francisco, both haunted by their young alleged death dates, and Varya and Daniel are left at home, trying to take care of their mother and bring their family back together.
This modern-day version of Pride and Prejudice is full of wild family antics. When Liz’s father has a heart attack, she and her sister Jane return to the family home in Cincinnati to help. If staying in a crumbling house with her four sisters isn’t enough of a challenge, Liz also has to deal with her mom, who’s intent on marrying her and Jane off as soon as possible, preferably to Chip Bingley, star of the most recent season of the Bachelor-esque Eligible. When Liz isn’t trying to keep things stable at home, she’s busy sorting out her feelings for Fitzwilliam Darcy, Bingley’s attractive but brusque friend.
Sharp Objects (Movie Tie-In)
Camille Preaker has been estranged from her family for several years, but when a string of murders happens in her hometown, she returns to report on the story. While she’s always had issues with her controlling mother, this is the first time she meets her eerie and beautiful half-sister. Stuck in her childhood bedroom, Camille’s surrounded by thoughts of how much she doesn’t fit in with her family—and how she does connect with the recent victims.
No two families are alike, but it can be easy to feel alone when your family seems less “normal” than others. Luckily, books can give us a look at people in similar situations, and show us that what feels atypical is really more common than we think. With that in mind, we’re embracing the weird by reading books about unconventional families.
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