5 Must-read Novels About Family

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Family is a universal theme that resonates with people across all cultures, ages, and backgrounds. It is a complex and dynamic aspect of our lives that shapes our identities, relationships, and experiences. Whether we come from traditional or non-traditional families, our relationships with our family members can be both rewarding and challenging, filled with love, joy, conflict, and tension.

Throughout literature, authors have explored the theme of family in various ways, offering insights into the human condition, the importance of connection and belonging, and the complexities of human relationships. From classic novels to contemporary memoirs, there are countless books that explore the multifaceted nature of family, its impact on our lives, and the ways in which it shapes our sense of self.

In this list, I have compiled five must-read novels about family that offer different perspectives on this important theme. These books explore the relationships between family members, the challenges they face, and the resilience and love that bind them together. Whether you are looking for a classic novel, a memoir, or a contemporary work of fiction, there is something on this list for everyone.

“The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy 

“The God of Small Things” is a novel written by Arundhati Roy and published in 1997. The book tells the story of a family in the Indian state of Kerala, focusing on the childhood experiences of fraternal twins Estha and Rahel, and the events that lead to their family’s downfall. The story is told through multiple perspectives and jumps back and forth in time, exploring themes of love, betrayal, caste, and the consequences of breaking social norms.

At the center of the story is the family’s matriarch, Ammu, who falls in love with a lower-caste man named Velutha. Their relationship is forbidden due to the strict social norms of their community, and their love affair sets off a chain of events that leads to tragedy.

“The God of Small Things” is notable for its nonlinear structure, lyrical prose, and vivid descriptions of the Indian landscape and culture. The book won the Booker Prize in 1997 and has been widely acclaimed for its exploration of complex themes and its unique narrative style.

“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott 

“Little Women” is a novel written by Louisa May Alcott and published in 1868. The book tells the story of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, as they grow up in New England during the Civil War. The novel explores themes of family, sisterhood, and coming of age, as the sisters navigate their relationships with each other and with the world around them.

Each sister has a unique personality and dreams for their future. Meg is the oldest and dreams of getting married and starting a family, while Jo, the second oldest, dreams of becoming a writer. Beth is gentle and kind-hearted, while Amy is artistic and ambitious. Throughout the novel, the sisters face challenges and setbacks, but ultimately learn the value of family, friendship, and the importance of staying true to themselves.

“Little Women” has become a beloved classic, admired for its realistic portrayal of family life and the strong female characters at its center. The book has been adapted into numerous films, plays, and television shows, and has inspired generations of readers with its messages of love, resilience, and the power of sisterhood.

“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls 

“The Glass Castle” is a memoir written by Jeannette Walls and published in 2005. The book tells the story of Walls’ unconventional upbringing in a family that was constantly on the move, often living in poverty and struggling with addiction. The memoir explores themes of resilience, forgiveness, and the power of love.

Walls’ parents were unconventional and often irresponsible, and their behavior had a profound impact on her childhood. Despite the difficulties, Walls was able to find strength in the love and support of her siblings and her own inner resilience. As she grew up and made her way in the world, Walls found a way to reconcile with her past and find forgiveness for her parents.

“The Glass Castle” is a powerful and inspiring memoir that speaks to the human capacity for survival and transformation. The book has been widely acclaimed for its honesty and its exploration of complex family relationships. It has become a bestseller and has been adapted into a major motion picture.

“The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan 

“The Joy Luck Club” is a novel written by Amy Tan and published in 1989. The book tells the story of four Chinese-American women and their relationships with their mothers, who immigrated to the United States from China. The novel explores themes of identity, cultural assimilation, and the complexities of mother-daughter relationships.

The four women form a club, where they play mahjong and share stories about their lives, their struggles, and their hopes. Through these stories, we learn about the experiences of the mothers in China and their daughters’ struggles to balance their Chinese heritage with their American identity.

“The Joy Luck Club” is a moving and powerful novel that has been widely acclaimed for its exploration of the complexities of cultural identity and mother-daughter relationships. The book has been adapted into a successful film and has become a beloved classic in contemporary literature.

“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi 

“Homegoing” is a novel written by Yaa Gyasi and published in 2016. The book follows the stories of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, who are born in Ghana in the 18th century and whose lives take very different paths. Effia is married off to a British slave trader, while Esi is sold into slavery and transported to America.

The novel tells the stories of Effia and Esi’s descendants over the course of several generations, exploring the impact of slavery and colonization on their families and their identities. The book touches on themes of family, identity, and the legacy of slavery and colonialism.

“Homegoing” is a powerful and beautifully written novel that has been widely acclaimed for its exploration of the impact of historical forces on individual lives. The book has been praised for its ambitious scope and its ability to capture the complexity and diversity of the African diaspora.


In conclusion, novels about family provide us with a window into the complexities and nuances of the relationships that shape our lives. Whether we are exploring the bond between siblings, the impact of cultural and generational differences, or the challenges of navigating family dynamics in the face of adversity, these books offer us a glimpse into the human experience and the ways in which we are all connected. This Reading Book Day, find yourself a perfect shirt at Ink In Action.

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From the heartbreaking but beautiful family story of “The God of Small Things” to the timeless and beloved classic of “Little Women,” from the inspiring memoir of “The Glass Castle” to the exploration of cultural identity in “The Joy Luck Club” and the impact of slavery and colonization on families in “Homegoing,” these five must-read books provide a diverse and powerful look at the complexity of family relationships. Reading these books can offer us insight, compassion, and a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.