Our December 2022 Reading Challenge prompt is to read a family drama. Why? Because there is something about family drama books that are so indulgent around the holiday season.
Maybe it’s because there are lots of family holidays to experience, but I always find myself craving books about families more dramatic than mine this time of year.
Below you will find all sorts of books filled with family drama. From found family novels to multi-generational tales, you’ll find options across a variety of genres. If you want more options, check out our list of family saga books.
Many of the books below are also perfect to discuss with your local book club, so keep that in mind as you peruse the list.
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Best Family Drama Books About Found Family
I am a huge fan of Ms. Marais’ writing. I read her previous two books and was so excited to read this adult fantasy book because fantasy is my favorite genre. This book did not disappoint. The writing is beautiful and very much Marais’ style and the witches in this book are hilarious. They are witty and funny and there is never a dull moment in the Manor.
The magic in this book is woven seamlessly into the story that has non-stop surprises. The book begins with the people of the town descending onto the manor with a wrecking ball to destroy it and the distillery and leave the witches homeless. They are left with less than two weeks to save their house but in order to do so, they must reveal long-kept secrets.
I do not want to give anything away. This family drama book made me laugh out loud often and shed a few tears as well. I absolutely loved this witch book and it is a definite must-read from our list of adult fantasy novels.
How many stars can I give? T.J Klune has done it again with the wonderful book. House on the Cerulean Sea was my favorite book last year and I am not sure that anything will top it. I read this paranormal book in a day and loved every minute of this wonderful family drama book that is truly about found family.
Wallace is dead. When the reaper collects him at his funeral and brings him to a strange tea shop, Hugo is waiting with the promise of helping him cross over. This light fantasy will make you smile until the last page.
Elyssa Friedland is quickly becoming an auto-order author for me with her quirky characters and unique plots. Fresh off the success of Last Summer at the Golden, The Most Likely Club is another fantastic book club book!
With a 25-year high school reunion as the backdrop to this story about 4 life-long friends, there is so much to discuss in this fast-paced, witty book. When the girls realize that they are not living up to the high school superlatives in their yearbook, they make a pact to supercharge their lives and career goals.
But is it possible for women in this age to have it all? Partly a feminist story, partly an ode to female friendships, you’ll be laughing and contemplating serious matters in the same breath. I adored this book about friendship which is a family drama story and can’t wait to share it with my own girlfriends! It is also a perfect book from best beach reads 2023.
Imagine a world where a group of strangers co-parent one another’s children in a perfect little community bubble. That’s the Infinite Family Project where Dr. Grind imagines 10 babies being raised collectively without ever knowing who their real parents are.
They say it takes a village and new high school graduate, Isabelle, needs a village so she doesn’t have to raise her baby alone. I found her story and involvement in the project to be so fascinating. I could not put it down.
The drama of the parents, the way their little utopian society starts to crumble, it’s just so good. This is one found-family drama that is unlike any other. I urge you to give it a try with your book club!!
Family Drama Books About Money
Commonwealth explores the dynamic of a family where two people commit adultery, separate their families, and then attempt to bring their various kids together.
When one child grows up and begins an affair with a novelist, her family story becomes the basis of his wildly successful novel. This complex family drama book spins a tale of love, family, and the ties that bind.
This novel takes place in modern-day New York City. The four Plumb children all had big plans for their inheritance until Leo, the oldest, uses it to get out of a sticky spot.
The siblings, all in their 40s or 50s and living separate lives from each other, begin to reconnect as they try to work their way out of the messes they have created for themselves over the years.
They each had banked on the money from “the nest” bailing them out, and now the money is gone. This dysfunctional family was a hot mess, but I totally fell for them. Funny, poignant, and full of drama, The Nest is a perfect beach read and a must-read family drama book.
This contemporary fiction book had a little bit of everything and I could not put it down. When their Helen grandmother dies, the family is amazed to find out that she has left her granddaughter a massive diamond that can only be the Florentine diamond.
As the family hunts for the truth, there is drama from all over the world. Everyone seems to have a claim on the diamond and how did Helen come to process this priceless treasure?
This jewelry novel has suspense, history, treasure, and family drama- the perfect combo for a great summer read.
Family Dramas About Family Business
Last Summer at the Golden Hotel is all about 2 families who own a resort in the Catskills and are thinking of selling or overhauling the Golden. This is the ultimate in family drama books.
Three generations of the Goldmans and Weismann clans have gathered to make the decision and family secrets are unspooling left and right in the midst of goat yoga, comedy shows, and salon catastrophes.
It was a pleasure to read it while staying at the Hyatt on the Chesapeake and experiencing some resort life of my own. This is on our list of 52 Best Books for Book Clubs to Read and had to be included in our summer camp books list!
I heard great things about this romantic comedy/ murder mystery mashup. It sounds like the weirdest combo, right? This book had me laughing out loud.
Meddelin Chen has an amazing, meddling Chinese-Indonesian family. Meddelin and her four Aunts run a wedding business together. When Meddelin accidentally kills her date and he ends up in a cooler at a wedding with two thousand people, what can go wrong?
It is the definition of a family drama story as Meddelin and her Aunties try and cover up the murder. This comedy of errors is being adapted by Netflix and if it is anything like the book, it will be amazing too.
This book has all the elements of the perfect beach read. Gorgeous jewelry and a cast of characters you’ll adore are all wrapped up in this wonderful family drama book!
Lizzie and Richie’s love story has its share of ups and downs, but after a 9-month separation, Ritchie gives his wife an 11-carat Diamond ring styled after Elizabeth Taylor’s.
Decades after the ring was stolen, or missing, or gambled away (depending on which of their children you ask) and long after their parents have passed, it resurfaced in the Caymans. The ripple effects of the ring and the drama are created, threatening to tear the 3 grown siblings apart.
I adored every character in the book and loved watching their personal growth and the way it impacted their family relationships.
This is the perfect read for anyone who loves a family drama book. After a terrible car accident, Sunday is convinced to move back home with her family to recover and help with the family business that is close to financial ruin.
But, what she finds are the family secrets long buried and the potential to cause her family further disruption. This story is about the bonds of family and the secrets we keep to protect those we love.
Family Dramas Books About Forced Togetherness
August 2023 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
Ann Patchett is an amazing storyteller and we love all her books, so it’s no surprise that this story is one of our best books of 2023 picks! I was completely enchanted by this story. In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return home and beg their mother to tell the story of her romance with a movie star from long ago.
Throughout their Mom’s telling of her summer theatre experience at Tom Lake, the daughters get the long-awaited answers to questions they’ve asked for years. The whole family also re-examines their lives and relationships through the new lens of information. While this is a pandemic story, it’s more of a plot device to get the family together than anything else. So don’t expect to be triggered!
This is a hilarious look at what happens when a family is quarantined together over the holidays. The entire time I was reading this quarantine isolation book, I kept thinking to myself that it should be a movie.
Hornak takes series topics and makes them funny. This family drama book is about crazy coincidences and epic drama in one completely dysfunctional British family.
What starts out as a family spending a quarantine quietly in the family country home, turns into something from a soap opera. Every member of the family has their secrets and lies exposed. When I first read this holiday book, I thought it was the perfect book for book clubs. Now, after (during?) a pandemic, there is so much more for book clubs to discuss.
Good Morning America Book Club December 2021 Pick
I DEVOURED this contemporary fiction story of a billionaire music mogul who releases her death announcement 2 days early so she can read her own end-of-life articles.
The best part was that during the snowstorm that trapped her family with her at the ski chalet, she neglected to tell them about her terminal illness and her harebrained scheme.
We get to see the impact the decision has on her family as well as get a look at her colorful life before her cancer diagnosis. This family saga book about motherhood was so compelling.
September 2023 Good Morning America Book Club Pick
Happiness Falls is a captivating and heartwrenching tale about a Korean-American family in Virginia. When her dad mysteriously vanishes, Mia is convinced there’s a logical explanation. But as the search unfolds, family secrets unravel, and Mia’s younger brother, who is non-speaking Autistic, becomes the only witness.
Packed with shocking twists and thought-provoking questions, this book explores love, language, disabilities, and the lengths a family will go to understand one another. It was more than just a mystery. It was an exploration of the bonds of family.
When Judd Foxman’s father dies, the entire family must come home to spend seven days under the same roof while sitting shiva.
The family has not been together in years and the reunion is even more awkward due to Judd’s missing wife, Jen. Jen had an affair that was painful and public. The week becomes a time to rehash old grudges and remember what it is like to be a family. If you love family drama books, this one is for you.
Another Kristin Hannah story, another NYT best seller – and for good reason! I liked this coming-of-age story set. in the Alaskan wilderness.
This isolation book is so haunting. I could not get it out of my head. Kristin Hannah is an amazing writer with wonderful characters. Her stories feel realistic almost to a fault. They are heartbreaking and heartwarming and utterly unforgettable. I did not think that I would like a book about Alaska but, I could not put it down.
Ernt Allbright has come home from the Vietnam War traumatized and as his mental state deteriorates, his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, must learn to navigate the Alaskan wilderness on their own. If you love family drama books set in the 70s, this one is not to be missed.
Family Drama Books About Weddings
This wacky story about three sisters who get engaged at the same time is laugh-out-loud funny. When their parents decide that the best way to save money is to throw them a joint wedding, well…let’s just say it’s a wild ride! How can there not be some serious drama?
Full of heart, sisterhood, and love, this contemporary fiction family drama story is one of Brenner’s best works. Of all the books featuring weddings on this list, this is probably one of my favorite feel-good books for the wedding season and it is a perfect pick for a list of books about sisters!
I’m obsessed with Destination Wedding. It’s a wonderful read for the summer wedding season or all year round. I knew very little about Indian weddings but now I’m dying to be invited to one! They sound like so much fun! This book takes place in India, but the main character is American-born. This could be just a light, beach read, but instead, it’s more.
The author touches on racism, and what it means to be an American-born child to parents who are from India. The feeling of not being at home in either location is explored in a way that I found very relevant today. I actually highlighted a few lines because they were eye-opening to me. It’s a summer read that has heart and a family drama book that is not to be missed.
Celebrity Book Club Family Drama Book Picks
October 2018 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
Wow! There are so many things that I loved about this contemporary fiction book. Rosie and Penn have five boys. The youngest, Claude wants to be a girl when he grows up. As this family navigates life with secrets, there is never a good time to explain that your youngest daughter was born a male.
These loving and supportive parents try to navigate a world in which not everybody is open-minded. This family drama book is poignant and all too realistic. It captures the innocence of youth and the struggles of an entire family. This is one of the best book club books on this list and a powerful book about motherhood. It is one of the feel-good novels you won’t want to put down.
I adored Bennett’s debut book The Mothers so I was nervous to read her sophomore novel. Sometimes the next novel doesn’t live up to the first, but The Vanishing Half absolutely does with this wonderful and thought-provoking book.
The premise of this book set in the 70s is so unique. Two black sisters are so pale they can pass for white. One embraces her black heritage and her hometown, the other disappears into white suburbia.
When they meet up again 20 years later through their own daughters, the result is a stunning portrayal of the ties that tether us to our families. This is one of the must-read books about sisters and family drama books! It is also an amazing book for book clubs because there is so much to discuss.
November 2019 Read by Jenna Book Club Pick
There is so much that I love about this family drama novel. It is such a feel-good book that is more than what it seems. It is well-written and funny and made our top books of 2019 list.
This magical realism book is about a woman who becomes a nanny for two children who start on fire when they get mad. There is wonderful humor in this book that is centered around strong and beautiful relationships. I cannot recommend this family drama story highly enough.
May 2022 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick
I haven’t read a novel with as much heart as this one in quite some time. Elderly, recently widowed Tova loves her job cleaning the aquarium in town in the quiet of the night, especially because of her fondness for Marcellus, the octopus. She finds solace in the aquarium as it makes her feel closer to her son, Erik – a marine life lover – who disappeared on a boat when he was 18.
But when she hurts herself and is unable to return to work at full capacity, she grows close with her replacement, Cameron, a young man who newly arrived in town looking for his birth mother.
Meanwhile, Marcellus knows what happened to Erik and he wants to help Tova find the closure she needs. His narration is interspersed with Tova and Cameron’s for a story that is compelling, heartwarming, and utterly unique.
I will be shoving this book into the hands of everyone who asks for a book recommendation because it’s my favorite book of 2022 and my pick as one of the best audiobooks of 2022.
Family Drama Books About Neighbors
November 2021 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick
Set in the 30s and 40s in Red Hook, NY, this family drama story is about two girls born into the Italian Mafia. Sophia and Antonia are the best of friends, neighbors, and daughters of local mob members.
The story spans their childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood as they navigate their relationships with each other and “The Family.”
It was captivating and wonderful to learn about the lives of the women in the crime family. It’s a must-read mob novel because of how it addresses coming of age. Of all the friendship books on this list, this one is definitely the most unique.
September 2017 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
I have mixed feelings about this family drama book about motherhood. There was nothing I didn’t like. It is a great story and written really well. I think because of all the hype I was expecting to be completely blown away.
Nobody in Shaker Heights was prepared when Mia, a single mother and artist, rents a house from the Richardsons. When friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, the town becomes divided.
Ng has depth to her characters and looks at highly emotional issues. I ended up really liking the book once I got past the beginning and knew we needed to include it in novels about artists.
More Family Drama Books
From the author of We Are the Brennans, comes another family drama novel about loyalty, family, and love. When Tara Connelly is released from prison after serving a sentence for drugs, she has to start over and return home to live with her siblings.
As she works to build a new life, secrets start to unravel. I wanted to walk into this book and fix up this trio of siblings myself. I loved the journey they went on as they recalibrated their lives and found peace with themselves and each other.
March 2023 Good Morning America Book Club Pick
I loved this family drama book about the blue-blooded Stockton family, told from the perspective of sisters, Darley and Georgiana, and their sister-in-law, Sasha.
Each woman has her own struggles with navigating life in the Stockton family. Sasha, a middle-class artist feels like an unwelcomed outsider. Darley struggles with living up to the Stockton family name after she gave up her identity to embrace motherhood. Georgiana, the youngest, needs to grow up and become a capable adult!
Each family member struggles on their own and within the family dynamic in this wonderful contemporary fiction. Each sibling faces dramatic struggles from sick parents to committing adultery to a lost job. I loved seeing how they each grew throughout this book for book clubs and ultimately how they strengthened their familial bond.
While the book had enough meat for me to get invested, it also had glimpses of the whimsy of the monied elite. The matriarch of this family in particular is a hoot! We had to include this book in our list of beach reads 2023 and the best contemporary fiction books of 2023.
This is a beautifully written and poignant book about family, love, and how much we can forgive those that we love. This book is the story of two families who live next door to one another and find their lives intertwined.
This is such a realistic family drama book that deals with topics like mental illness and alcoholism. At times, I found it hard to read this coming-of-age story because I could feel the characters’ pain.
This book is a DOOZY. It deserves a spot on our best family drama book list, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
Cassie Quinn comes from a wealthy New York family that appears picturesque from the outside. But her brother is now standing trial for the rape of his on-again, off-again girlfriend. Cassie heads home to support her brother, but during the trial, family secrets come out that threatens to ruin them all.
This family drama book has a ton of very difficult topics within its pages, so check for trigger warnings before reading.