With daylight savings, it’s starting to get dark earlier, which conjures up fantasies of steaming cups of hot cocoa, crackling fires, and soft blankets—all shared in the company of close friends and family. However, the last months of the year can also produce feelings of loneliness, cold, and longing for longer, sunnier days. If you need an extra dose of hope or a reason to curl up and get cozy with a book, you’ll find a friend in these six found family tales that will break your heart and glue it back together.
A small town in Sweden that revolves around hockey finds itself suddenly divided when the star of the junior hockey team gets involved in a scandal. Through a cast of well-rounded characters, Backman shines light on the many troubles of a once peaceful community (including blackmail, bullying, and the weight of traditional masculinity) and illustrates how people can find their way back to one another. Don’t love hockey? Don’t worry—this heavy but endearing story and Backman’s exquisite writing are still sure to steal your heart.
In witty and charming prose, Tate explores her life through a history of female friendships, landing on one particular relationship that proved to be a saving grace. Christie and Meredith didn’t meet in a typical setting—they first came to know each other as adults in a twelve-step program. While confronting traumas and broken relationships from their pasts, together they learned what it means (and that it is even possible) to have a healthy friendship, woman to woman. Their relationship wasn’t a perfect one, but it was beautiful and continued to blossom up until Meredith’s death. B.F.F. is hilarious, heartbreaking, and bursting at the seams with hope.
From the author of Group, a New York Times bestseller and Reese’s Book Club Pick, comes a moving, heartwarming, and powerful memoir about Christie Tate’s lifelong struggle to sustain female friendship, and the friend who helps her find the human connection she seeks.
After more than a decade of dead-end dates and dysfunctional relationships, Christie Tate has reclaimed her voice and settled down. Her days of agonizing in group therapy over guys who won’t commit are over, the grueling emotional work required to attach to another person tucked neatly into the past.
Or so she thought. Weeks after giddily sharing stories of her new boyfriend at Saturday morning recovery meetings, Christie receives a gift from a friend. Meredith, twenty years older and always impeccably accessorized, gives Christie a box of holiday-themed scarves as well as a gentle suggestion: maybe now is the perfect time to examine why friendships give her trouble. “The work never ends, right?” she says with a wink.
Christie isn’t so sure, but she soon realizes that the feeling of “apartness” that has plagued her since childhood isn’t magically going away now that she’s in a healthy romantic relationship. With Meredith by her side, she embarks on a brutally honest exploration of her friendships past and present, sorting through the ways that debilitating shame and jealousy have kept the lasting bonds she craves out of reach—and how she can overcome a history of letting go too soon. But when Meredith becomes ill and Christie’s baggage threatens to muddy their final days, she’s forced to face her deepest fears in honor of the woman who finally showed her how to be a friend.
Poignant, laugh-out-loud funny, and emotionally satisfying, B.F.F. explores what happens when we finally break the habits that impair our ability to connect with others, and the ways that one life—however messy and imperfect—can change another.
Narrated by a comical cast of departed souls from a local cemetery, this small-town tale stars both humans and animals. When Emma Starling, a young woman with unexplained healing abilities, returns home to New Hampshire after failing to “make it” in California, she finds her family and community struggling more than ever. The opioid crisis is haunting New England, Emma’s high school best friend is missing, and Emma’s dad is suffering from a brain disease and seeing ghosts. As Emma tries to pave a new way into the future (and adjust to living with her dad’s pet fox from Russia), chaos and mystery abound. But so do good laughs, furry friends, ghosts, and love. In classic Annie Hartnett style, UNLIKELY ANIMALS restored my faith in humanity (and, of course, in animals).
The term “found family” usually implies community without biological ties. In Candice Carty-Williams’s PEOPLE PERSON, the found family is a group of siblings who, once following very different paths, learn to rely on one another again. Dimple Pennington and her four sisters and brothers have one thing in common: a father who has never been very present in their lives. It isn’t until adulthood that Dimple and her siblings come to not only know, but lean on one another in hard times. Carty-Williams’s sophomore novel is simultaneously light-hearted and serious, touching on the struggles of growing up without a father and the joys of finding the right community to lift you up as you make your way through life.
The author of the “brazenly hilarious, tell-it-like-it-is first novel” (Oprah Daily) Queenie returns with another witty and insightful “treat” (Jesse Armstrong, creator of Succession) of a novel about the power of family—even when they seem like strangers.
If you could choose your family...you wouldn’t choose the Penningtons.
Dimple Pennington knows of her half-siblings, but she doesn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues. Dimple has bigger things to think about.
She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone in her life. That is, until a dramatic event brings her half-siblings—Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie, and Prynce—crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.
Vibrant and charming, People Person is “a way-out combination of family drama, madcap plot, and political edge” (Kirkus Reviews).
This coming-of-age tale by the prolific Alice Hoffman follows Shelby Richmond as she recovers from trauma, finds love (in humans and animals), moves to New York City, and reconciles with her past. It’s been a few years since Shelby and her best friend, Helene, got into a terrible car accident that put Helene in a coma from which she never woke up, and Shelby struggles to get past the guilt. With the help of a guardian angel, however, Shelby slowly begins to see the world with fresh eyes and allow herself to experience new things, even joy. As she makes her way into adulthood, Shelby heals relationships with her family and grows close to the most unlikely people and creatures, gradually learning that every life and story is beautiful and valuable, even her own.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.
Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.
Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.
Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.
After a shooting at the local movie theater, the town of Majestic, Pennsylvania, seems damaged beyond repair. Lucas Goodgame’s wife is dead, his beloved Jungian therapist won’t see him anymore, and his relationship with himself has never been worse. Aside from nightly visits by his wife Darcy’s angel, Lucas is completely alone. That is, until a young outcast (and brother of the shooter) starts camping out in Lucas’s backyard and they decide to embark on a special project together. From Matthew Quick, the author of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, this wholesome novel brings together the most unexpected cast in an utterly convincing, enchanting manner.
*“A treasure of a novel…read it and be healed.” —Justin Cronin * “Beautifully written and emotion-packed.” —Harlan Coben *
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook—made into the Academy Award–winning movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper—a poignant and hopeful novel about a widower who takes in a grieving teenager and inspires a magical revival in their small town.
Lucas Goodgame lives in Majestic, Pennsylvania, a quaint suburb that has been torn apart by a recent tragedy. Everyone in Majestic sees Lucas as a hero—everyone, that is, except Lucas himself. Insisting that his deceased wife, Darcy, visits him every night in the form of an angel, Lucas spends his time writing letters to his former Jungian analyst, Karl. It is only when Eli, an eighteen-year-old young man whom the community has ostracized, begins camping out in Lucas’s backyard that an unlikely alliance takes shape and the two embark on a journey to heal their neighbors and, most importantly, themselves.
From Matthew Quick, whose work has been described by the Boston Herald as “like going to your favorite restaurant. You just know it is going to be good,” We Are the Light is “a testament to the broken and the rebuilt” (Booklist, starred review). The humorous, soul-baring story of Lucas Goodgame offers an antidote to toxic masculinity and celebrates the healing power of art. In this unforgettable and optimistic tale, Quick reminds us that life is full of guardian angels.
Photo credit: iStock / Sensay