2019 saw a plethora of multi-generational family sagas – they’re definitely having a moment. From silly to serious to snarky, there’s something for everyone here. Is dysfunction your thing? Can’t help but root for a strong matriarch? Love a sibling story? We’ve got you covered! These are the best family sagas of 2019.
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
This debut novel will easily make my top 10 favorites of the year. While it clocks in at over 500 pages, I devoured every page. Following husband and wife Marilyn and David Sorenson, this novel takes a close look at their marriage, as well as the lives of their four daughters. Instead of just highlighting the siblings, the story also takes a deep dive into the lives of Marilyn and David, who are seen as the ultimate matriarch/patriarch duo. Daughters Wendy, Violet, Liza and Grace share their struggles throughout the story, and the reader sees how they’re each affected by their parents’ seemingly “perfect” relationship. By the end of the novel, I was so invested in this family – I totally wanted to be adopted as the fifth Sorenson daughter. So moving while also extremely relatable, this is definitely a must-read.
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
I love a good sister story (maybe because I grew up with brothers), and Mrs. Everything did not disappoint. This novel follows sisters Jo and Bethie from their youth, spanning several decades, highlighting the ups and downs of adolescence, adulthood and everything in between. Covering major issues, including women’s rights and racism, this novel felt like a love letter to women everywhere. Jo and Bethie are nowhere near perfect, but the reader can’t help but become attached and root for them – just as they would their own sister.
The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin
This was such a wonderful sibling story. After the death of their father, siblings Fiona, Renee, Caroline and Joe must bond together as their mother becomes increasingly absent and withdrawn. As young teens, the four learn what it means to survive and to support each other through some of their toughest days. As they become adults, their relationships continue to evolve – learning how to support each other even though they don’t always agree. When tragedy once again strikes their family, will their love for each other be enough?
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
This was my first Ann Patchett novel but I’m so excited to read more by her! This is a quieter, character-driven story about the relationship between siblings Danny and Maeve and the house they grew up in. Their mother leaves when they are young children, and their relationship with their father is a complicated one. Add a new stepmother to the mix and you’ve got quite the character study. As far as the plot goes, this one moves slower and is heavily focused on character dynamics and relationships. This one made me want to hug my loved ones a little tighter!
All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg
If you’re looking for a darker, grittier family novel, this is it. All This Could Be Yours does not sugarcoat the ups and downs that families go through – as patriarch Victor lays on his deathbed, his daughter Alex searches for some meaning behind his life, trying to understand who her father really was. Attenberg doesn’t shy away from some hard topics, instead offering a very realistic view of a dysfunctional family, and delves deeper into the question, “How well do you really know your parents?”
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
This story follows two partners on a police force, Francis and Brian, who happen to become next-door neighbors. After a tragic event occurs, the two families must deal with the repercussions and learn to navigate their new normal. This moving novel follows Francis, Brian and their children as they move through the years, trying to overcome a single moment that altered their lives forever.
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
This was an eye-opening, heartbreaking look into the lives of three generations of Palestinian women. Following each woman as they try to find their own identities within their culture and within the scope of their arranged marriages, this novel sheds light on the horrific ways women in other cultures are often treated. While Rum is quick to point out that this is not the experience of every Arab-American woman, this harrowing story is well worth your time.
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