Hello everyone, and welcome back to another Monthly Recommendations. This is a Goodreads group created by Youtube channels Kayla Rayne and Between Chapters where we share recommendations each month based on a specific topic. For November it’s Family Focus and I think this is one of my favourite topics so far because family means a lot to me and I love reading books that have family as a central and important focus, even if they are unconventional.
Before I start, I’m going to mention now that I’m not going to include Harry Potter. You might shout why because it obviously does have it’s wacky, varied and important family dynamics, but it comes up so regularly in these posts that I want to give other books and families a chance to shine and not feel overshadowed by it.
So with that out of the way, let’s get started:
The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale:
Whilst the main focus of this story is Evie’s mental and physical recovery from her unstable childhood, it is truly about family and how they support each other to have a better and happier life. Both Evie and her adoptive parents (Amy and Paul) have secrets they don’t want to share, but once they do they realise that they all need each other in order to move forward. The family dynamic is what I really like about this book and makes it stand out from other YA contemporaries I’ve read.
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen:
Family and friendship are the two important themes of this book and that’s what makes it another favourite next to The Bone Dragon. Sydney doesn’t get much notice from her family after her brother’s sentencing but when she meets Layla and her family, a lot changes for both of them. Layla’s family isn’t perfect but they’re close and understand the importance of supporting each other no matter what’s going on. I found myself relating a lot to Sydney in this and seeing her being supported by Layla and her family was great to read and witness.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The first encounter we have of the Bennets is as a family, that there are five daughters and it’s at the top of Mrs Bennet’s mind that they all must marry, particularly Jane and Elizabeth. Without marriage they remain destitute (by the standards of their societal circles) and the older they become, the less advantageous they are at finding a decent match. It becomes important for Jane and Elizabeth to marry into good fortune but at the hands of their unconventional family, that is easier said than done. You’ve got Mrs Bennet who always has problems with her nerves and is very highly strung; the witty and blunt Mr Bennet who shuts himself in his library; Mary, the middle sister who wants nothing more than to be noticed by her family; and Kitty and Lydia who are flirty, flighty, and fall in love with anyone who’s in uniform. It’s only with re-reads that I realise how dysfunctional the Bennet’s are and yet I love them so so much. But it’s not just the Bennet family that are a big part of Pride and Prejudice. There’s the Lucas’s, Bingley and his sisters, and then Darcy and his sister Georgiana. It is the love and respect between the latter two that influences Elizabeth to re-evaluate her opinions and what’s important for her as well as her family.
And with that very same summary, I feel the need to also mention The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, the modern day retelling that retains the family dynamic of the Bennets. For those who haven’t come across it before, this is the compantion book/novel to the acclaimed Lizzie Bennet Diaries series on Y0utube, and it is fantastic. If you love Pride and Prejudice, I hightly recommend that you check it out.
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
And in particular the Blackthorn family consisting of Mark, Julian, Ty, Tavvy, Livvy and Dru. Without parents Julian is the figurehead and responsible sibling and he does an incredible job at protecting his siblings as well as being a good Shadowhunter. He burdens himself with a lot of weight and it is the love for his siblings and Emma that keeps him sane. Ty might be the Blackthorn that pulls at my heartstrings but I love them all, and I’m excited to see what Cassie Clare does with these characters.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Usually single parent families don’t come across as a strong, cohesive unit but with Atticus Finch as the figurehead, Atticus, Scout and Jem are a completely different matter. They struggle with prejudice, narrow-minded viewpoints of other inhabitants of Maycomb but Atticus doesn’t let that affect how he parents Scout and Jem. He will teach them the ways of the world one moral at a time and be the father who always listens.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Séanz
Why I haven’t re-read this book in a while is beyond me but what hit me the most when reading this is the different family situations for both Ari and Dante. Ari’s family has many personal problems and Dante’s is very affectionate. Similarly to Saint Anything, the great thing is that both of them develop and change over the course of the story to suit both the needs of Ari and Dante.
Once Upon A Time Reawakened:
I must have something for dysfunctional family units because Emma Swan’s family is one of the most dysfunctional I have ever known. Based on the events of ABC’s hit show Once Upon A Time (season 1, and arguably the best season), it follows Emma Swan as she arrives in Storybrooke. She is also witness to a lot of different changes that are occurring since her arrival, including building a relationship between herself and her son Henry, whom she originally gave up for adoption. If you’ve seen the show or even heard about it, you’ll know that family plays a big part in this show and this one is all over the place. It’s unbelievable but at the same time you can’t help but sit back and watch it all unfold
The Selection Series by Kiera Cass
Whilst it is split up into two different mini series, the one aspect that doesn’t change is the family relationships. America has a close relationship with her sister May in the first trilogy but when it comes to the end duology, the family dynamic between America, Maxon, Eadlyn and her brothers is heartwarming. What I particularly liked about The Heir and The Crown is that Eadlyn learned that she has to be independent, diplomatic, sensitive but at the same time understand the strength that comes from family.
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell:
There are multiple family dynamics in this classic that make it interesting. It mainly centres around Molly Gibson and her father who have led a life of solitude until he realises he must marry again, for the sake of giving Molly a mother. When he does marry, Molly also gains a step-sister, Cynthia. Once firmly situated into each others lives, the narrative follows them on their journey into womanhood. Between the four of them, it is an uneasy relationship and I always feel sorry for Molly because she is completely coddled and pushed in directions she doesn’t want to experience. However on meeting the Hamley family, she opens up and becomes the woman she wants to be. She is also instrumental in helping the Hamley’s understand their own complicated familial situation.
That is all I’ve got for this month’s recommendations.
What books would you recommend?
Thanks for reading and have a good day!