Hey dolls! I’ve been reading several contemporaries recently, and in doing so, realized how much I miss families being present in books. It’s near impossible to find a YA novel nowadays that doesn’t kill off parents or make them irrelevant towards the plot. In the very few novels where they are present, I can’t help but feel that they aren’t represented in the best light. There are a many novels that focus on teenagers dealing with parents who are abusive, alcoholics, or neglectful, but what ever happened to the books that didn’t have parents be a central issue? Sure, these conflicts are inevitably resolved in some way or another by the end of story, but why did it have to be a problem in the first place? Are wholesome families where the parents and children have wonderful relationships simply nonexistent? All I’m asking for is a novel where the protagonist has a supporting family, who helps them deal with other external conflicts.
The Absence of Parents
I understand how it could complicate matters if our dear, hormone-riddled teenagers had to request permission from their parents before embarking on a potentially dangerous adventure. There are many ways to work around this issue, but the simplest appears to be killing off the parents or making them absent for the vast majority of the novel. Awfully convenient, isn’t it? Now, the protagonist is free to roam as he/she pleases without fear of parental repercussions. This however, shouldn’t be the case. What ever happened to seeing parents loving their children enough to let them go? If the plot demands the parents to stay behind, I’m alright with that, but the author should have the initiate to consider the parents’ feelings and relevance to the story in this circumstance. Who doesn’t love an emotional departure? No two books are the same, and I’m aware that there are many other plot points that could prevent this from happening. I just find it rather odd that I almost never witness this event happening in literature.
Are Families Regarded As Important?
I miss profound family bonds. Even if these bonds are simply between a father and a daughter, or a mother and son, it matters not. I love characters who aren’t afraid to display their unconditional love for their family, and wish there were great family bonds in every novel I read. The issue is, families don’t appear to be as important in literature as they typically are in real life. Our culture and the media are fascinated by strong independent teenagers, and this is directly shown in the movies and novels it produces. Every time I watch a flick at the theater, the trailers advertised primarily revolve around individuals breaking away from their families to gain independence. Don’t get me wrong, independence is a wonderful trait, but I can’t help but feel a tad disappointed that protagonists so often lean away from relying on the love and support of their families.
Representation of Families Are Almost Never Whole
In nearly every novel I’ve ever read, the family unit isn’t whole. The parents are either divorced, deceased, or negligent towards their children. I understand that there are families like this in the world, and I think it’s wonderful when individuals are able to connect with fictional characters on a personal level. With that being said, it truly saddens me how challenging it is to find a novel that depicts an unimpaired family. I had the good fortune to mature in a household with four other siblings, and both my parents. I have such fond memories of my childhood, and to this day, relish the moments when I can relax and devote my full attention to my family. I’m not suggesting that the focus of a book has to be on an unbroken family, but I would appreciate it if they were shown more across literature as simply being there for the protagonist.
Books That Don’t Represent Whole Families
Here are a few books I really enjoyed, but they don’t represent any whole families.
- Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
- Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo
- Grishaverse Series by Leigh Bardugo
- The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
- Renegades by Marissa Meyer
- Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
- Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan
- An Ember in the Ashes Trilogy by Sabaa Tahir
- The Wrath & the Dawn Duology by Renee Ahdieh
- Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu
- The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
- Rebel of the Sands Trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton.
Has The “Traditional Family” Died?
Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to present to you the Weasley family – one of the loveliest fictional families in all of literature. Oh, who can’t adore this family? So much love! The traditional sense of family has definitely been altered throughout the ages, but I still admire it. The father being the ultimate provider and warrior for his wife and children, and the mother being the primary caretaker and protector. This nuclear family (a family group consisting of two parents and their children) is quiet prevalent in our culture today, but is not often represented in literature. I recently watched the movie, A Quiet Place, and was blown away by how brilliantly the director illustrated family values, and showed the beauty and importance family has – and in a post-apocalyptic setting, nonetheless!
A Few Of My Favorite Fictional, Nuclear Families
- The Hughes family from Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson.
- The Hubermann’s from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
- The Grant family from Save the Date by Morgan Matson.
- The March family from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
- The Bennett family from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
That’s all folks! What are your thoughts on family values in books and the absence of parents/nuclear families? What are some books you loved that had a whole family? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!