dysfunctional families

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? By Jeanette Winterson

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? By Jeanette Winterson

“Most kids grow up leaving something out for Santa at Christmas time when he comes down the chimney. I used to make presents for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

When I picked up a copy of Jeanette Winterson’s recent memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, I couldn’t wait to start the first page. I’ve been fascinated by Winterson’s novels for years, but never imagined she would narrate her life in the coherent, linear style associated with memoirs. In Winterson’s fiction, she constantly manipulates the boundary between fantasy and reality, integrating personal experience, mythology, and philosophy into a fluid conglomeration. Although Why Be Happy does feature some of Winterson’s trademark structural experimentation, it is also an engrossing story about one woman’s experience of dysfunction, madness, violence, love, and religion.

Daughter of the Queen of Sheba

By Jacki Lyden

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One day in 1966, when the author was 12, she returned home from school to find her mother, Dolores, garishly made up and convinced that she was the Queen of Sheba. For the next 20 years, Lyden and her two younger sisters were subjected to their delusional parent's frequent episodes of manic-depressive behavior. (from Publishers Weekly)
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Dead End Gene Pool

By Wendy Burden

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For generations the Burdens were one of the wealthiest families in New York, thanks to the inherited fortune of Cornelius "The Commodore" Vanderbilt. By 1955, the year of Wendy's birth, the Burden's had become a clan of overfunded, quirky and brainy, steadfastly chauvinistic, and ultimately doomed bluebloods on the verge of financial and moral decline-and were rarely seen not holding a drink. (from summary)
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Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor

By Tad Friend

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Part memoir, part family history, and part sociological study of the WASP world, (this) is a captivating examination of a cultural crack-up and a man trying to escape its wreckage.
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I'm Down

By Mishna Wolff

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Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black..."You couldn't tell my father he was white. Believe me, I tried," writes Wolff. And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter Down .
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Glass Castle

By Jeanete Walls

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Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation...(A) story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave (Walls) the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms. (from summary)
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Rules of Survival

Nancy Werlin

Living with an unpredictable, psychotic mother has taught Matthew how to survive. Constantly on alert, he and his sister, Callie, devotedly shelter their younger stepsister, Emmy, from their mother's abuse and worry about staying safe. Matt insists that fear isn't actually a bad thing . . . . It warns you to pay attention, because you're in danger. It tells you to do something, to act, to save yourself, but his terror is palpable in this haunting, powerful portrayal of domestic dysfunction, which is written in retrospect as a letter from Matt to Emmy.

9780142410714
High School

Messed Up

Janet Nichols Lynch

A fifteen-year-old Mexican American has experienced a series of tough breaks before finding himself completely on his own. He decides to try to keep his lack of a home a secret from his school while working hard and staying out of trouble.

9780823421855
High School
Middle School

The Liars' Club: A Memoir

By Mary Karr

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"A trenchant memoir of a troubled American childhood from the child's point of view describes growing up in a an East Texas refinery town, life in the midst of a turbulent family of drunks and liars, a schoolyard rape, and other dark secrets."

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Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness, and Survival

By Robert Neugeboren

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"This heart-rending and ultimately uplifting memoir tells the story of two brothers - one a prize-winning novelist; the other an extraordinarily witty, intelligent man who has suffered the ravages of chronic mental illness for more than three decades - and how their love for one another has enabled them not only to survive, but to thrive in miraculous, surprising ways. In the literature of mental illness, Imagining Robert is the first book to tell us what it is like for the millions of families who must cope over the course of a lifetime with a problem for which, most of the time, there is no solution.

"This is a memoir by one man of another man's life - a brutally honest, deeply tender tale without a familiar (or predictable) happy ending. It gives us something better: an unforgettable story of two brothers that heartens by showing us how even the grimmest of lives can be sustained and graced by the power of love."

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