I hope you enjoyed, Silver Sparrow, the June, 2021 selection for our Facebook Book Club. If you did, hopefully you’ll also like something from this list of books about complicated family relationships.
Head over to the group to find out what July’s book will be and join in on our community conversations.
Luster by Raven Leilani
Edie is stumbling her way through her twenties—sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She is also haltingly, fitfully giving heat and air to the art that simmers inside her. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage—with rules.
As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren’t hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and invited into Eric’s home—though not by Eric. She becomes a hesitant ally to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie may be the only Black woman young Akila knows.
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch’s father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn’t show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn’t much to save. Lately, Esch can’t keep down what food she gets; she’s fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull’s new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child’s play and short on parenting.
As the twelve days that make up the novel’s framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family—motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce—pulls itself up to face another day.
The Secret Lives of the Four Wives by Lola Shoneyin
For Baba Segi, his collection of wives and gaggle of children are a symbol of prosperity, success, and a validation of his manhood. All is well in this patriarchal home, until Baba arrives with wife number four, a quiet, college-educated, young woman named Bolanle. Jealous and resentful of this interloper who is stealing their husband’s attention, Baba’s three wives, begin to plan her downfall. How dare she not know her place, they whisper. How dare she offer to teach them to read. They will teach her instead, they vow, and open their husbands eyes to this wicked wind who has upturned the tranquility of their home.
Bolanle’s mother worked hard to educate her daughter and save her from a life of polygamy and dependence. She cannot understand why her daughter has chosen such a fate. But Bolanle hides a terrible secret—a secret that will unwittingly exposes the deception and lies, secrets and shame upon which Baba Segi’s household rests.
The Unseen World by Liz Moore
Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David’s mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David’s colleagues. Soon she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood. What Ada discovers on her journey into a virtual universe will keep the reader riveted until The Unseen World‘s heart-stopping, fascinating conclusion.
The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen
More than two decades after moving to Saudi Arabia and marrying powerful Abdullah Baylani, American-born Rosalie learns that her husband has taken a second wife. That discovery plunges their family into chaos as Rosalie grapples with leaving the country, her life, and her family behind.
Meanwhile, Abdullah and Rosalie’s consuming personal entanglements blind them to the crisis approaching their sixteen-year-old son, Faisal, whose deepening resentment toward their lifestyle has led to his involvement with a controversial sheikh. When Faisal makes a choice that could destroy everything his embattled family holds dear, they all must confront difficult truths as they fight to preserve what remains of their world.