Brace yourself — it’s nearly Thanksgiving, aka prime time for dysfunctional families! And whether you’re on a plane back to your hometown, hosting friends for a potluck, or ordering pizza and not answering your phone, the holiday season often leads to reflection, resentment, and recrimination as old family dramas flare up again. We can’t promise you that the holidays will be happy, but we can offer you some new, entertaining reading about even more dysfunctional families that may make you feel a bit better about what’s in store for you. (Best read while consuming an entire pumpkin pie directly out of the pie plate.)

The HeirsThe Heirs
Author: Susan Rieger  

There’s nothing like the death of a patriarch to kick off a dysfunctional-family tale! In this case, it’s Rupert Falkes, who leaves behind a widow, Eleanor, and five adult sons… or so they think. Six months later, a mysterious woman sues the estate, claiming Rupert fathered her two sons, too. Eleanor and Rupert had been an elegant, privileged couple, and their sons were equally successful: Harry the law professor, Will the Hollywood agent, Sam the doctor, Jack the jazz musician, and Tom the federal prosecutor. They’ve always defined themselves by being Falkses, and they believed their parents shared their unshakeable clan loyalty. But the sudden appearance of two potential half-brothers — and Eleanor’s astounding sympathy toward the mystery woman — leaves the Falkes boys rethinking everything they assumed about their picture-perfect upper-class-New-York upbringing. Makes me glad that a) I don’t have kids and b) there’s nothing to inherit anyway!


Little Fires EverywhereLittle Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng  

The author of Everything I Never Told You is back with another bone-chilling tale of suburban disenchantment and dysfunctional families. Shaker Heights is a planned community outside Cleveland where no detail is too small or mundane for a rule, and its queen is Elena Richardson. But when Mia Warren, an artist and single mother, along with her teenage daughter Pearl, rent a house from the Richardsons, things get shaken up. The four Richardson children are drawn to Mia and Pearl, but Mia has a checkered past and an indifference to suburban mores that threatens Shaker Heights’ smug sense of superiority. A custody battle over the adoption of a Chinese-American baby tears the community apart, and Elena and Mia find themselves on opposing sides. Elena vows to expose Mia’s own dark secrets… but she has no idea how destructive and life-changing her obsession will become.


The Comfort Food DiariesThe Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart
Author: Emily Nunn  

We’ve all been there: that terrible low point when the universe has dealt you so many body blows, you don’t know how you’ll get up and go on. For Emily Nunn, rock bottom came after her brother’s sudden death, a breakup with her fiance, and the loss of the home they shared. Several glasses of wine later, she was posting her tale of woe on Facebook. When she woke up, she had a wretched hangover — and many kind offers from friends to come and stay with them while she figured things out. That was the start of the “Comfort Food Tour,” in which Emily travels around the country, visiting and cooking with family and friends to heal her heart. She also dredges up memories of her troubled childhood with a large, dramatic, eccentric Southern family. As she reconnects with the healing power of the comfort food she grew up on, Emily shares her story… and lots of delicious recipes for the memorable meals that, she says, saved her life.


The Sunshine SistersThe Sunshine Sisters
Author: Jane Green  

So you think your family is messed up? Nothing beats the craziness of a Hollywood family. Ronni Sunshine grew up in London, but quickly moved to L.A. to become a movie star. At home, though, she was a self-absorbed, selfish mother who swiftly alienated her three daughters. Nell fled the Tinseltown glamour for down-to-earth work on a farm, and became a single mother. Meredith returned to England, but failed to find happiness there. Meanwhile, Lizzy, the daughter who’s most like Ronni, has built a culinary career — at the cost of her marriage. The Sunshine girls have never been close, but when Ronni is diagnosed with a terminal illness, she calls her daughters home to help her fulfill her final wishes. Old rivalries and family tensions erupt anew… but if they can work past them, the Sunshine sisters just might discover what holds them together, too.



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Stephanie Perry

Stephanie Perry

Stephanie P. is a writer, editor, and blogger. Her secret shame is dystopian YA fiction. You can find her wherever the books and food are.
Stephanie Perry

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