11 Books For 'This Is Us' Fans, Because You Just Can't Get Enough Family Drama
So, you're a huge This Is Us fan, right? If the answer is yes, you're definitely not alone. The family drama, still in its first season, has captures the hearts of millions of viewers all over the country. The intertwined lives of two parents, three children, their own partners and children, a biological father, a step father, and an almost Mr. Feeny level moral compass in the form of a surly sweet doctor is equal parts heartwarming, sad, complicated and obsession worthy.
But, after you've rehashed last night's episodes, and come up with even more theories about the mystery surrounding Jack, there's nothing left to do but wait for the next one. And what will we all do when the first season finale hits on March 14th and we have to wait months for new episodes? Have no fear, because there are plenty of books to read that will help satiate your appetite for more family drama.
Sure, many of these books delve into families who are a little more dysfunctional than the Pearsons (if you can believe it) and many delve into topics that This Is Us hasn't, but there are glimmers throughout each of these 11 picks of the familial intrigue you've come to know and love. These books deal with race, the complicated relationships between siblings, struggling marriages, the toll of unexpected death and illness, the consequences of secrets and deceits, and, of course, lots and lots of love. No, we can't promise you still won't be wringing your hands until your next glimpse of everyone's favorite hot dad, Jack Pearson, but you'll definitely enjoy the wait a little bit more with your nose in one of these reads.
1'Everything I Never Told You' by Celeste Ng
This gorgeous novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
2'Tell The Wolves I'm Home' by Carol Rifka Brunt
This strikingly atmospheric debut unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life. At Finn’s funeral, she notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.
3'The Age of Miracles' by Karen Thompson Walker
This luminous, haunting novels mixes coming of age with post-apocalyptic realities in the life 11-year-old Julia and her family. On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb they awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life — the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing continues. With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom Karen Thompson Walker, paints a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an altered world.
4'One Plus One' by Jojo Moyes
Jojo Moyes brings her trademark wit to this book about a single mom, a chaotic family and a quirky stranger. Jess's life sucks. A lot. Her husband has left her, her teenage stepson is being bullied, and her math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you she can't afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell — until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages. . . maybe ever. This quirky book is part road trip tale, part romance, that looks at how we make a family, and how those families forever change us.
5'I'll Give You The Sun' by Jandy Nelson
Jandy Nelson's beloved YA novel follows Jude and her twin brother, Noah, who are incredibly close. At thirteen, Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else — an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. This story of first love, loss and betrayal you will leave you teary eyed and breathless.
6'We Were Liars' by E. Lockhart
This YA suspense novel follows Cadence Sinclair Eastman while vacationing on her grandfather's private island. Cadence struggles to remember the circumstances leading up to an injury she sustained two summers previous. After spending one summer away with her father in Europe, Cadence is back at Beechwood, with her family, including her cousins Johnny and Mirren (whom she refers to as The Liars) as well as Gat, her aunt's husband's nephew, with whom she has become romantically involved. With the help of The Liars, she starts to piece together what happened two summers ago when everything changed. This is a story of familial feuds, destructive relationships and explosive lies.
7'My Life Next Door' by Huntley Fitzpatrick
This contemporary YA follows the Garretts who are everything the Reeds are not: loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness it all, Jase's family embraces Samantha, even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself? A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.
8'Second Chance Summer' by Morgan Matson
From one of the current queens of YA summer contemporaries comes the story of Taylor Edwards and her family. They might not be the closest-knit— everyone is a little too busy — but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains. Crammed into a place much smaller than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend. And he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve. As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance with family, with friends... and with love.
9'The Summer I Turned Pretty' by Jenny Han
This summer soap opera by Jenny Han follows Belly, who measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from her mother's best friend Susannah, and most importantly, away from Susannah's sons Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer — they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along. This story of the intersections between two families, devastating illness, first love and complicated friendships will keep you obsessively turning the pages to find out what happens next. Luckily for you, this one's a trilogy.
10'Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe' by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This beautiful and beloved book follows Aristotle, an angry teen with a brother in prison, and Dante, a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship — the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. This book explores issues of race and sexuality, family and friendship, the relationships between fathers and sons, and brothers, and how we piece together a life after loss.
11'The Mothers' by Brit Bennett
The Mothers by Brit Bennett is not only Bustle's American Woman Book Club Pick for February it's also a moving coming of age drama that encompasses themes of motherhood, community, and love. It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner. While mourning her mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance — and the subsequent cover-up — will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant question: What if they had chosen differently? The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. And if, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.