The holidays can be a rough time of the year. Movies, television shows, even commercials are all focused on the idea of quality time with family. Except, what if seeing your family...isn't great? What if your family is the source of stress, not the break from it?
If so, you're not alone. But as a wise man once said: You don't have to take my word for it.
The First Time She Drowned tells the story of Cassie, whose mother committed her to a mental hospital when she was 16. As hard as it is to watch Cassie struggle with her emotionally abusive mother, the book ends on a hopeful note that is encouraging.
Eleanor & Park is one of my favorite books. It's about a slow burn romance between the two titular characters and comic books and music. It's also about Eleanor's family's struggle with poverty and the horrible stepdad she has to live with. I cried a lot when reading this book, and fans are still debating about the ending.
In Reality Boy, we meet Gerald, who was saddled with the nickname The Crapper because of his infamous behavior at age five on a reality tv show. Now, at 17, his anger simmers just beneath the surface and the family problems that were glossed over 12 years ago are very much still in play. There's a girl and an adventure, but the heart of the story is Gerald finding himself and shedding his past and his nickname.
While White Oleander is located in the Adult section, this is a stunning title for older teens. Astrid is 12 years old when her mother goes to prison for murdering her boyfriend. For the next six years, Astrid bounces from foster home to foster home, losing and finding bits of herself along the way. All the characters are richly drawn, but the heart of the book is the relationship between Astrid and her mother, and the hard choices they both have to make in the end.