Family is complicated- and only more so for young people on the verge of adulthood. Fitting into a family is different for everyone, and these books give a realistic, enjoyable and interesting view into the lives of families. Some family is biological, and some family is chosen, but they all make for good reading. These young adult books focus on the ties between family members, in whatever form they come.
Royals, by Rachel Hawkins
While Royals is ostensibly about the chaos that ensues when your sister is marrying the heir to the throne of Scotland, it’s also about the way a family copes with stress. Daisy Winters is not one for the spotlight, but her sister’s engagement brings their family international fame, and scrutiny. Daisy’s summer plans are completely wrecked by the relentless attention of the public, and she’s shipped across the pond to join her sister in Scotland. Romantic drama ensues, but the center of the story is Daisy’s relationship with her sister, Ellie, who is older and more polished, and needs Daisy to go along with all of the starchy royal protocol. Ellie and Daisy trade verbal blows, but they do love each other. Their relationship is a work in progress, but their sisterly affection is strong. Royals is equal parts family drama and high society, so check it out.
The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertali
Molly is an expert in crushing on boys, though she’s never been kissed or had a boyfriend. Her twin sister is a heartbreaker, and her two mothers are deliriously happy. Molly worries that no one will ever like her, and all of her friends are dating or in relationships. Cassie, Molly’s twin, is gorgeous and outgoing, while Molly feels plain, and is sure no boy will ever like her, because she’s fat. A lot of this book is about letting people in, and allowing them to get close to you emotionally, even though it’s scary. It’s also about growth, and how relationships change with age. The book is also about Molly and Cassie’s relationship as sisters and twins, their moms, Patty and Nadine, and their extended family. They remind the reader that while circumstances may cause rifts and changes in families, those relationships are precious, and love is the most important thing.
Alex, Approximately, by Jenn Bennett
Bailey loves movies, and shares this love with her friend Alex, a guy who she met in an online film forum. They live across the country from each other, so there’s no way they’ll meet in person, until Bailey decides to join her dad, who is living in California. Bailey’s past trauma makes it hard for her to open up to people, and she’s not sure she wants to tell Alex about her big move, so she keeps it to herself. After living apart from her father for a long time, Bailey has to figure out how to fit into his life, and how to still have a relationship with her mom from afar. Bailey has to figure out how to be honest, with her dad, and her new friends, about who she really is, and accept her parents for who they are. This book is sweet, loving, and timely, a story about love and family, in all of the ways they appear in life.
Miles Away from You, by A.B. Rutledge
Miles’ life is complicated- his beloved girlfriend Vivian is in brain-dead after a suicide attempt, his mothers are convinced that he’s depressed, and the camp they run for LGBTQ+ kids is about to start up again. What’s a guy to do? Fly to Iceland and hide in a hotel room for the summer. Miles is afraid to see his friends, mourning his girlfriend, and angry at Vivian’s transphobic family, who have never supported her transition and are keeping her on life support. His journey is supposed to help him clear his head, and uncomplicate things, but Miles’ adventures only make things more confusing. He meets Oskar, a reserved concierge with amazing hair, and a deeply complicated life. Oskar’s family is confusing too, and when he rescues Miles from a beating, Miles gets a view into how deep still waters run when it comes to the taciturn Icelander. Miles is convinced that going home means facing the kids who loved Vivian, and blame him for her death, but his mothers’ love and Oskar’s companionship remind him that honoring the people you love is more important than blame or guilt. This book may be triggering to those who experience depression or have thoughts of suicide.
Gorgeous, by Paul Rudnick
Becky Randall is relentlessly ordinary- until her mother dies and she discovers a mysterious phone number. This discovery propels her on the journey of a lifetime, from the sticks where she grew up to the most glamorous cities in the world. It’s a book about true love, fame, and outer beauty, but it’s also about the ones we love, and how much we know them. Becky only knew her mother as a morbidly obese agoraphobe, but before Becky, Roberta Randall was an international supermodel. Though her mother is dead, Becky feels like she is with her on her journey over the next year, and in her quest to discover what she truly desires. On that journey, Becky learns about her mother and herself, and that those who love you never truly leave you. While Becky doesn’t get enough time with her mother, she builds a family of her own, one based on the unconditional love she got from her mother. Gorgeous is a deep, beautiful book that is also incredibly funny and insanely absorbing.