6 Unhappy, Dysfunctional Families in Fiction

Lies, love, and pride: Family drama makes for good fiction. Here, 6 families in fiction who make the one around your holiday table seem almost normal.

Bring On the Drama

Lies, love, and pride: Family drama makes for good fiction. Here, 6 families in fiction who make the one around your holiday table seem almost normal.

The Obermeyers of Callie Wright's 'Love All'

In the matter of a week, members of the Obermeyer family die, lie, cheat, ditch school, drink, yell, cry, and play tennis. Each Obermeyer is talented and hardworking, but also torn apart by the family's history of secrets.

The Lamberts of Jonathan Franzen's 'The Corrections'

The Lamberts are your family: the mother is worried and desperately guilt-trips the kids to assemble for one last Christmas; the father is stubborn and flawed but proud, dammit; the kids are smart and talented, but each tries their darnedest to escape the family's problems. Franzen has flawlessly bottled the Midwest and blended together classic family issues of communication, money, and depression.

The Price Family of 'The Poisonwood Bible' by Barbara Kingsolver

In Kingsolver's captivating epic of family troubles, the Prices move to the Congo in 1959. Reverend Price seeks to spread God's word amid political turmoil, and his four daughters each has her own story of how this permanently interfered with her development and views of the world.

The Cookes of 'We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves' by Karen Joy Fowler

What happens when a family enrolls itself into a psychological development study under the direction of the father-scientist? Unhappiness. The son will be resentful, the daughter confused, the mother depressed, the father all wound up in his pride.

Agamemnon and Clytemnestra's Whole Clan from Aeschylus' 'Oresteia' trilogy

The family so weird they needed three plays to get it all hashed out! Oedipus' family is usually noted as the crazy Greeks, but every member of the House of Atreus has his issues. This royal family is cursed, incestuous, vengeful, and totally messed up.

The Starks of George R. R. Martin's 'A Game of Thrones'

You will hate them and condemn them, and then you will applaud them, and then you will feel turned on and disgusted all at once. It makes for good fiction (and quality TV).