Three Books About Family

Here are three more books you might like and my thoughts about them.

Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent. Sometimes children fight for their parents’ affection and/or attention. This story is about what happens when that competition continues into adulthood.

It involves three brothers, each of whom is not very likeable but each for different reasons. You might think that their nastiness would deter you from finishing the book, but it is so well-written that you will be fascinated to find out how it all turns out. Even as she looks at the dark side of human nature, Liz Nugent weaves suspense. It is fearless look at cruelty between siblings and, at the same time, a fascinating tale of changing fortunes over time as the brothers’ lives evolve.

A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson. How far would you go to protect your teenage daughter who is accused of murder? It is difficult to answer this when you can’t talk to your child and your spouse is really tied up with a new job. There are lots of tensions here for all sorts of reasons, but the contrasting professions of the two parents, one a pastor the other a lawyer, complicate things in surprising ways.

This suspenseful legal thriller explores how much we know about ourselves, our spouses, and our children, sometimes with unsettling discoveries. Set in Sweden, this exploration of a family in crisis made me think about the effects of shock and horror on normal loving relationships. When people behave out of character, how much of that character is superficial and how much is fundamental? This is about what happens when people don’t always do what you might expect.

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. One of my sisters has been urging me to read this for months and I finally got around to it. She was right. It is a great book.

It is a stretch to say this book is about family, but it imagines what could happen in the absence of family. A young girl, Kya, is left alone in a remote marshland of North Carolina. One by one her family members have left home until even her father abandons her. She manages to raise herself through to adulthood by growing and catching her food, and by selling smoked fish to a friendly trader. She also makes friends with a boy about the same age who teaches her to read, and in her teenage years she is befriended by a boy from town.

As the story of Kya’s development is told, it is woven into a deep understanding and appreciation of the land in which the girl lives. The author is a wildlife scientist and has PhD in animal behaviour. Her knowledge of and sensitivity to the environment are what bring the details of this world to life for the reader.


  1. I read and loved “Where the Crawdads Sing”. I’ve been surprised at the many negative reviews I have seen about the book. The other 2 you mention, I have not read. My ‘want to read’ list grows almost daily. So many books, so little time!

    • I was at first put off by the ways in which these boys/men inflicted cruelties on one another and by how they justified it to themselves. But as I read further I was impressed with how well the writer understood and wrote about those things.

  2. Great recommendations! One family related story I enjoyed was The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

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