9 Contemporary Reads About Young Adults With Difficult Parental Relationships

Not everyone gets along with their parents. Sometimes families just hit a temporary rough patch, but other times there are deep problems that might never be completely overcome. The nine YA works listed here deal with all kinds of difficult parental relationships, covering issues like alcoholism, mental illness, and abuse. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

YA Books About Tough Relationships With Parents: Our 9 Picks

Title Author
1. You Don't Know Me but I Know You Rebecca Barrow
2. To Be Honest Maggie Ann Martin
3. Just Fly Away Andrew McCarthy
4. The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder Michael R. French
5. A Constellation of Roses Miranda Asebedo
6. Twelve Steps to Normal Farrah Penn
7. When Elephants Fly Nancy Richardson Fischer
8. All That I Can Fix Crystal Chan
9. Louder Than Words Iris St. Clair

8 Great Films About Family

  1. Little Women (1994)
  2. A Quiet Place (2018)
  3. The Princess Diaries (2001)
  4. Juno (2007)
  5. Interstellar (2014)
  6. Ramona and Beezus (2010)
  7. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
  8. Big Fish (2003)

Literary Charities

If you want to spread your love of YA literature with those in need, then you should consider looking into these non-profit organizations that help kids and teens get access to books and high-quality education.

The Philosophy of Family Obligations

In Depth

Growing up is hard, and sometimes it can feel like you're the only one who doesn't live in a happy family. Thankfully, there are a lot of great authors creating material that speaks to those in troubled homes. In no particular order, here are nine thoughtful books about young adults dealing with difficult parental relationships.

Kicking off our list at #1 is "You Don't Know Me but I Know You" by Rebecca Barrow. Seventeen-year-old Audrey keeps a letter from her biological mother, a woman she's never met, in her closet, and never looks at it. But then, Audrey becomes unexpectedly pregnant. While trying to make the most difficult decision of her life, she's overwhelmed with questions about her identity, unknown past, and her birth mother's decision all those years ago, and realizes it's time to look for answers.

#2 is "To Be Honest" by Maggie Ann Martin. Savannah is dreading her senior year of high school. With her sister away at college, she must deal with her overbearing and weight-obsessed mother on her own. Savannah feels alone in the world until she meets a classmate named George, and finds that they're struggling with a lot of the same issues. Together, they learn how to navigate the pressures of high school, in the classroom and at home.

Savannah is dreading her senior year of high school.

At #3 we have "Just Fly Away" by Andrew McCarthy. Lucy is fifteen years old when her dad drops a bombshell on the family by revealing that he has a child from an extramarital affair. Dealing with her father's infidelity is bad, and her mother's apathy over the whole situation only makes things worse. Needing an escape, Lucy travels to Maine to spend time with her estranged grandfather, who helps her untangle the web of family secrets.

In the #4 spot is "The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder" by Michael R. French. Life for Wilson has never been easy. Self-conscious about being disfigured by a childhood accident, he's desperate for acceptance from others, especially his estranged mother. However, his confidence begins to grow as he develops his artistic skills as a painter. When he moves to New York to pursue a career in fine art, his mother re-enters his life, and Wilson must learn to find value in himself as an individual.

#5 is "A Constellation of Roses" by Miranda Asebedo. Street-smart Trix McCabe has never relied on anyone but herself. After she's caught stealing, she's given the option to either go to jail or live with her aunt Mia in Rocksaw, Kansas. Choosing the latter, she moves in with a woman she hardly knows, who tells Trix about the magical powers her family possesses. When her past catches up with her, Trix must decide if she wants to stay with her family or run away.

Choosing the latter, she moves in with a woman she hardly knows, who tells Trix about the magical powers her family possesses.

#6 is Farrah Penn's novel, "Twelve Steps to Normal." Everything is different for high school junior Kira Seneca when she returns to live with her newly-sober father. She must share her home with other recovering alcoholics that her father befriended during rehab. To make matters worse, her best friend is now dating her ex. She decides to create her own twelve-step program to mend her relationships and get her life back on track.

Coming in at #7 is "When Elephants Fly" by Nancy Richardson Fischer. Eighteen-year-old T. Lily Decker lives in constant fear that she will develop schizophrenia like her mother. She knows the illness usually manifests by age thirty, so she devises a strict twelve-year plan to avoid anything that could possibly trigger the condition. But everything changes when she witnesses a baby elephant who is almost killed by its own mother. Lily must decide if she wants to set aside her carefully laid plans and risk her own sanity in order to save the calf.

#8 is "All That I Can Fix" by Crystal Chan. With a mentally ill father and a drug addicted mother, fifteen-year-old Ronney is left to fend for himself and look after his little sister, Mina, in the town of Makersville, IN. When an eccentric resident releases all of his exotic zoo animals from their cages, the town is thrown into chaos. With mounting pressure, Ronney tries to hold his family together as they confront the pertinent issues of fear, gun control, and animal rights.

With mounting pressure, Ronney tries to hold his family together as they confront the pertinent issues of fear, gun control, and animal rights.

Rounding out the list at #9 is "Louder Than Words" by Iris St. Clair. Dealing with her father's death, her mother's addiction, and an abusive relationship, sixteen-year-old Ellen knows there is nothing but heartache in her hometown. Anxious to escape, she's laser-focused on her schoolwork, earning a scholarship, and going away to college. However, Ellen meets fellow counselor Rex while working at a summer camp, and she shares some of her darkest secrets with him. With his help, she finds the strength to finally speak up against those who have hurt her in the past.