9 YA Novels That Tackle Tough Family Issues

Family trouble is never easy, and it's especially difficult for teenagers, who are already going through a turbulent period of growth and change. One way to cope with these issues to to read about characters who are dealing with struggles of their own. Identifying with stories like this can be cathartic and help the reader gain a new perspective. The nine great novels listed here tackle everything from the death of a sibling to parents losing their grip on reality. When you click links from this website, we may receive advertising revenue to support our research. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

9 YA Novels That Tackle Tough Family Issues

Title Author More by the Author
1. Forever, or a Long, Long Time Caela Carter My Best Friend, Maybe
2. Summer Bird Blue Akemi Dawn Bowman Starfish
3. Right Where You Left Me Calla Devlin Tell Me Something Real
4. How to Be Luminous Harriet Reuter Hapgood The Square Root of Summer
5. You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone Rachel Lynn Solomon Our Year of Maybe
6. If I Tell Janet Gurtler I'm Not Her
7. The Heartbeats of Wing Jones Katherine Webber Only Love Can Break Your Heart
8. The Chance You Won't Return Annie Cardi
9. Calling My Name Liara Tamani Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America

Helpful Resources for Parents Dealing With Death

Grief can affect anyone, no matter how old they are. And while some can handle the loss of a loved one with the support of their family and friends alone, that might not always be enough. If you need professional help, or are looking to join a support group, these organizations are a great place to start:

  1. InfoAboutKids.com: Tools for healthy child & family development
  2. National Alliance for Grieving Children: Offers networking, information, and support
  3. The Dougy Center: A safe place for grieving families to share their experiences
  4. Our House: A grief support center for children, teens, and adults
  5. Foundation for Grieving Children: Assistance, counsel, & education for families

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.

How Childhood Trauma Affects Health

In Depth

Young adult novels allow teens to read about people who are dealing with problems similar to the ones they experience in their own lives. For teenagers faced with tough family issues, including death, confusing choices, and traumatic experiences, books can provide solace during difficult times. In no particular order, these nine remarkable Y.A. novels can be an excellent means of reflecting on these issues and considering ways to overcome them.

#1. "Forever, or a Long, Long Time" by Caela Carter. Flora and Julian have been moving from one foster home to another for as long as they can remember. Having no history and memories of growing up, the siblings are reluctant to believe that they have finally found a new home with a new set of parents. Gently putting together the sorrows of abandonment and the struggle for unconditional love, this touching novel uses Flora's perspective as she copes with and accepts changes in her new family.

The novel highlights the special bond between mothers and kids while pointing out the sad realities of the foster care system.

The novel highlights the special bond between mothers and kids while pointing out the sad realities of the foster care system.

#2. "Summer Bird Blue" by Akemi Dawn Bowman. An inspiring tale about friendship, family, and loss, Rumi Seto deals with grief after her younger sister dies in a car accident. Her mother sends her to Hawaii to live with her aunt. Coping with her sister's death, Rumi tries to regain her love of music and write more songs, but she can't do it all on her own. After meeting a cheerful teen surfer and a helpful eighty-year-old neighbor, she tries to find the courage to sing again.

#3. "Right Where You Left Me" by Calla Devlin. A beautiful exploration of a California teenager's experience of familial love, this coming-of-age story revolves around Charlotte and her father's kidnapping. Used to her journalist dad traveling to faraway locations, she now feels helpless after news breaks that he has gone missing. Her weak relationship with her Russian-immigrant mother isn't making things any better.

#4. "How to Be Luminous" by Harriet Reuter Hapgood. After Minnie Sloe's mother disappears, the seventeen-year-old's ability to see color also goes away. Minnie and her sisters have been used to overcoming problems together, including their father's absence in their lives and their mother's unstable mental state. This captivating tale shows a young woman going beyond tragedy and discovering the power of love and faith in the midst of a black-and-white perspective.

After Minnie Sloe's mother disappears, the seventeen-year-old's ability to see color also goes away.

#5. "You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone" by Rachel Lynn Solomon. A beautifully written novel about Jewish twins, this story puts the spotlight on sisterhood, ambition, and first love. Adina wants to focus on her music while Tovah dreams of becoming a surgeon. However, a genetic test determines that one of them has inherited their mom's Huntington's disease. This result pushes the twins apart as they struggle with betrayal, guilt, and having to repair their tenuous bond.

#6. "If I Tell" by Janet Gurtler. This thought-provoking tale of secrets and discrimination revolves around Jasmine. Life doesn't come easy for Jaz as she navigates life with her young mother and a father who rejects her existence. Her classmates call her a nuisance but she survives the verbal abuse. Jaz is soon pulled into a deep, dark secret after she learns about her future stepdad being unfaithful and seeing her best friend.

#7. "The Heartbeats of Wing Jones" by Katherine Webber. This inspirational, coming-of-age story highlights Wing Jones' journey of hope and determination. Half-Chinese and half-black, Wing has been bullied for her appearance because she isn't as attractive as her blonde brother, Marcus. After a day of partying, her football player brother accidentally crashes his car, killing two people and leaving him in a coma.

After a day of partying, her football player brother accidentally crashes his car, killing two people and leaving him in a coma.

Anxious about Marcus and their family's financial state, Wing discovers the pleasure of running at night and forgetting her problems. Joining the track team, running gives her a new-found feeling of identity and accomplishment. Surrounded by strong female family members, Wing begins to take charge of her life and stand up to its challenges.

#8. "The Chance You Won't Return" by Annie Cardi. Alex Winchester wants to live a normal teen life: hang out with her friends, go to school, and overcome her fear of driving lessons. However, it all changes when her mother begins acting strange and believing that she is Amelia Earhart. While her mom is caught up in her delusions, Alex struggles with caring for her siblings while their dad is at work and distances herself from her friends.

#9. "Calling My Name" by Liara Tamani. This remarkable coming-of-age story revolves around Taja Brown, an African American pre-teen in Texas who struggles as she grows up physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Taja pushes the limits of her firm Baptist background as she explores the changes brought about by adolescence, including her romantic relationship with Andre. Despite saying her prayers regularly and having good grades, she feels that blossoming into a teenager should not be limited in the confines of school and church.