This real-life memoir of the author, talks about his childhood spent being abused by his mother. Dave as a child was beaten, starved and tortured by his emotionally unstable mother, who considered him a slave, even calling him ‘It’. He pretended everything was fine at school coming up with excuses for his bruises and stealing food from his classmates. Having two brothers who got off easy and an alcoholic father who neglected the whole situation puts the Pelzer family on my dysfunctional family list. A Child Called “It” is no book for the weak hearted.
Roy’s portrayal of the Ayemenem, Kerala in the 1970s left a nostalgic tinge when I first read years ago. But what stuck with me far deeper was their family. The main protagonists of the plot are Rahel and Estha fraternal twins who are parted by circumstances for years. As kids, they had to live with their Uncle Chacko at their late grandfather’s family estate when her mother Ammu divorced their father. Ammu is a free spirit and was not someone who would follow the rules, even for her kids. While their childhood was far from peaceful, the twins had at least each other. But an incident changes everything in their lives and now Estha doesn’t speak anymore. The God of small things will work both as a compelling tale as well as a masterful social commentary. Read my review here.
In about 50 pages Gillian Flynn makes the Burke family spooky enough to be listed on my most dysfunctional families list. Susan Burke requests our narrator to visit her house to heal their haunted house. Looking for some quick bucks she agrees, only to realize she has gotten involved in things far more than she bargained for. She realizes Susan’s teenager son Miles is creepy and wile and her house has a darker and sinister past. And even Susan is not as dumb as the narrator assumed her out to be. Read The Grownup to know more about the unreliable Burkes and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Read my review here.
4) We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
A blinded father, a mother who did not want to be one, a sister who feared everything and a 15 years old psychopath who killed nine people in a high school massacre – how is that for a dysfunctional family? We Need to Talk About Kevin is written in the form of letters from Eva, a writer to her estranged husband Franklin, narrating the incidents of their lives until the day before the fated Thursday. Their son Kevin killed seven students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him two days before his sixteenth birthday. This international bestseller set in the 2000s definitely should be on your to be read list.
3) Mummy’s Little Angel by JW Lawson
Speaking of bad mothers, Joanna could not love her twins Annie and Maggie any more than she already does, and as any good children do, they both compete to become their Mummy’s Little Angel. The Stokes family have faced a lot worse in the past – Joanna is mobility impaired, her husband is shot and is labelled a paedophile, one of her twins is disfigured and suffers from amnesia due to a fire accident and the other twin is blamed for it all and is imprisoned. The timing could not be any worse for her schizophrenic mother, who had abandoned her twenty years ago, to come back to their lives. What more could her daughters be hiding from her? Find out with Joanna by reading Mummy’s Little Angel. Read my review here.
7 years old Libby Day testified against 15 years old Ben, her brother in the case of the bloody massacre of her family. Their mother, Patty was shot in her head, both Patty and Debby had been slaughtered with an axe, and Michelle was strangled to death. Libby herself has been affected mentally by the event and is on medicine to help her cope. Now after twenty-five years, she visits her ghosts and tries to remember the day of the horrific event and her equally dysfunctional family or whatever is remaining. Gillian Flynn is one of my favourite authors and this definitely is one of the most disturbing books I have read, by far. Read my review here.