November and December mean that the holidays have arrived! Families start gathering to celebrate, but these gatherings mean emotions can run high. Some instances can be fun while others can test your patience. If you need an escape from your family or enjoy multigenerational family stories, try out the following list of multigenerational novels.
Below I have gathered a list of multigenerational family dramas published in 2023 that are owned by the Davenport Public Library. This is by no means an extensive list, but instead ten I wanted to highlight that we haven’t talked about on the blog before. It was hard to narrow this list down to ten, so stay tuned for more multigenerational family recommendations in the future! All descriptions have been provided by the publishers or authors.
Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo
From National Book Award-winning author Elizabeth Acevedo comes the story of one Dominican American family told through the voices of its women
Flor has a gift: she can predict, to the day, when someone will die. So when she decides she wants a living wake—a party to bring her family and community together to celebrate the long life she’s led—her sisters are surprised. Has Flor foreseen her own death, or someone else’s? Does she have other motives? She refuses to tell her sisters, Matilde, Pastora, and Camila.
But Flor isn’t the only person with secrets: her sisters are hiding things, too. And the next generation, cousins Ona and Yadi, face tumult of their own.
Spanning the three days prior to the wake, Family Lore traces the lives of each of the Marte women, weaving together past and present, Santo Domingo and New York City. Told with Elizabeth Acevedo’s inimitable and incandescent voice, this is an indelible portrait of sisters and cousins, aunts and nieces—one family’s journey through their history, helping them better navigate all that is to come. – HarperCollins
Our Best Intentions by Vibhuti Jain
Babur “Bobby” Singh, Indian immigrant, single parent, and owner of a fledging rideshare business, remains ever hopeful about ascending the ladder of American success. He lives in an affluent suburb of New York with his introverted teenage daughter Angie.
During summer break, Angie is walking home after swimming at the high school pool when she finds Henry McCleary, a white classmate from a wealthy family, stabbed and bleeding on the football field. The police immediately focus their investigation on Chiara Thompkins, a runaway Black girl who disappears after the stabbing and—it’s later discovered—wasn’t properly enrolled in the public high school.
The incident sends shock waves through the community and reveals jarring truths about the lengths to which families will go to protect themselves.
A gripping story about privilege, race, family, and belonging, Our Best Intentions shows how drastically everything can change in a single moment and the rippling effects of the choices we make and the lies we tell. – HarperCollins
Happiness Falls by Angie Kim
“We didn’t call the police right away.” Those are the electric first words of this extraordinary novel about a biracial Korean American family in Virginia whose lives are upended when their beloved father and husband goes missing.
Mia, the irreverent, hyperanalytical twenty-year-old daughter, has an explanation for everything—which is why she isn’t initially concerned when her father and younger brother Eugene don’t return from a walk in a nearby park. They must have lost their phone. Or stopped for an errand somewhere. But by the time Mia’s brother runs through the front door bloody and alone, it becomes clear that the father in this tight-knit family is missing and the only witness is Eugene, who has the rare genetic condition Angelman syndrome and cannot speak.
What follows is both a ticking-clock investigation into the whereabouts of a father and an emotionally rich portrait of a family whose most personal secrets just may be at the heart of his disappearance. Full of shocking twists and fascinating questions of love, language, and human connection, Happiness Falls is a mystery, a family drama, and a novel of profound philosophical inquiry. With all the powerful storytelling she brought to her award-winning debut, Miracle Creek, Angie Kim turns the missing-person story into something wholly original, creating an indelible tale of a family who must go to remarkable lengths to truly understand one another. – Penguin Random House
The Bee Sting by Paul Murray
The Barnes family is in trouble. Dickie’s once-lucrative car business is going under—but Dickie is spending his days in the woods, building an apocalypse-proof bunker with a renegade handyman. His wife, Imelda, is selling off her jewelry on eBay and half-heartedly dodging the attention of fast-talking cattle farmer Big Mike, while their teenage daughter, Cass, formerly top of her class, seems determined to binge drink her way through her final exams. As for twelve-year-old PJ, he’s on the brink of running away.
If you wanted to change this story, how far back would you have to go? To the infamous bee sting that ruined Imelda’s wedding day? To the car crash one year before Cass was born? All the way back to Dickie at ten years old, standing in the summer garden with his father, learning how to be a real man?
The Bee Sting, Paul Murray’s exuberantly entertaining new novel, is a tour de force: a portrait of postcrash Ireland, a tragicomic family saga, and a dazzling story about the struggle to be good at the end of the world. – MacMillan Publishers
Beyond That, The Sea by Laura Spence-Ash
As German bombs fall over London in 1940, working-class parents Millie and Reginald Thompson make an impossible choice: they decide to send their eleven-year-old daughter, Beatrix, to America. There, she’ll live with another family for the duration of the war, where they hope she’ll stay safe.
Scared and angry, feeling lonely and displaced, Bea arrives in Boston to meet the Gregorys. Mr. and Mrs. G, and their sons William and Gerald, fold Bea seamlessly into their world. She becomes part of this lively family, learning their ways and their stories, adjusting to their affluent lifestyle. Bea grows close to both boys, one older and one younger, and fills in the gap between them. Before long, before she even realizes it, life with the Gregorys feels more natural to her than the quiet, spare life with her own parents back in England.
As Bea comes into herself and relaxes into her new life—summers on the coast in Maine, new friends clamoring to hear about life across the sea—the girl she had been begins to fade away, until, abruptly, she is called home to London when the war ends.
Desperate as she is not to leave this life behind, Bea dutifully retraces her trip across the Atlantic back to her new, old world. As she returns to post-war London, the memory of her American family stays with her, never fully letting her go, and always pulling on her heart as she tries to move on and pursue love and a life of her own.
As we follow Bea over time, navigating between her two worlds, Beyond That, the Sea emerges as a beautifully written, absorbing novel, full of grace and heartache, forgiveness and understanding, loss and love. – MacMillan Publishers
The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters
A four-year-old Mi’kmaq girl goes missing from the blueberry fields of Maine, sparking a mystery that will haunt the survivors, unravel a family, and remain unsolved for nearly fifty years
July 1962. A Mi’kmaq family from Nova Scotia arrives in Maine to pick blueberries for the summer. Weeks later, four-year-old Ruthie, the family’s youngest child, vanishes. She is last seen by her six-year-old brother, Joe, sitting on a favorite rock at the edge of a berry field. Joe will remain distraught by his sister’s disappearance for years to come.
In Maine, a young girl named Norma grows up as the only child of an affluent family. Her father is emotionally distant, her mother frustratingly overprotective. Norma is often troubled by recurring dreams and visions that seem more like memories than imagination. As she grows older, Norma slowly comes to realize there is something her parents aren’t telling her. Unwilling to abandon her intuition, she will spend decades trying to uncover this family secret.
For readers of The Vanishing Half and Woman of Light, this showstopping debut by a vibrant new voice in fiction is a riveting novel about the search for truth, the shadow of trauma, and the persistence of love across time. – Penguin Random House
The Leftover Woman by Jean Kwok
Jasmine Yang arrives in New York City from her rural Chinese village without money or family support, fleeing a controlling husband, on a desperate search for the daughter who was taken from her at birth—another female casualty of China’s controversial One Child Policy. But with her husband on her trail, the clock is ticking, and she’s forced to make increasingly risky decisions if she ever hopes to be reunited with her daughter.
Meanwhile, publishing executive Rebecca Whitney seems to have it all: a prestigious family name and the wealth that comes with it, a high-powered career, a beautiful home, a handsome husband, and an adopted Chinese daughter she adores. She’s even hired a nanny to help her balance the demands of being a working wife and mother. But when an industry scandal threatens to jeopardize not only Rebecca’s job but her marriage, this perfect world begins to crumble and her role in her own family is called into question.
The Leftover Woman finds these two unforgettable women on a shocking collision course. Twisting and suspenseful and surprisingly poignant, it’s a profound exploration of identity and belonging, motherhood and family. It is a story of two women in a divided city—separated by severe economic and cultural differences yet bound by a deep emotional connection to a child. – HarperCollins
Central Places by Delia Cai
A young woman’s past and present collide when she brings her white fiancé home to meet her Chinese immigrant parents in this vibrant debut from an exciting new voice in fiction.
Audrey Zhou left Hickory Grove, the tiny central Illinois town where she grew up, as soon as high school ended, and she never looked back. She moved to New York City and became the person she always wanted to be, complete with a high-paying, high-pressure job and a seemingly faultless fiancé. But if she and Manhattan-bred Ben are to build a life together, in the dream home his parents will surely pay for, Audrey can no longer hide him, or the person she’s become, from those she left behind.
But returning to Hickory Grove is . . . complicated. Audrey’s relationship with her parents has been soured by years of her mother’s astronomical expectations and slights. The friends she’s shirked for bigger dreams have stayed behind and started families. And then there’s Kyle, the easygoing stoner and her unrequited crush from high school that she finds herself drawn to again. Ben might be a perfect fit for New Audrey, but Kyle was always the only one who truly understood her growing up, and being around him again after all these years has Old Audrey bubbling up to the surface.
Over the course of one disastrous week, Audrey’s proximity to her family and to Kyle forces her to confront the past and reexamine her fraught connection to her roots before she undoes everything she’s worked toward and everything she’s imagined for herself. But is that life really the one she wants? – Penguin Random House
The Chinese Groove by Kathryn Ma
Anne Tyler meets Jade Chang in this buoyant, good-hearted, and sharply written novel about a blithely optimistic immigrant with big dreams, dire prospects, and a fractured extended family in need of his help—even if they don’t know it yet
Eighteen-year-old Shelley, born into a much-despised branch of the Zheng family in Yunnan Province and living in the shadow of his widowed father’s grief, dreams of bigger things. Buoyed by an exuberant heart and his cousin Deng’s tall tales about the United States, Shelley heads to San Francisco to claim his destiny, confident that any hurdles will be easily overcome by the awesome powers of the “Chinese groove,” a belief in the unspoken bonds between countrymen that transcend time and borders.
Upon arrival, Shelley is dismayed to find that his “rich uncle” is in fact his unemployed second cousin once removed and that the grand guest room he’d envisioned is but a scratchy sofa. The indefinite stay he’d planned for? That has a firm two-week expiration date. Even worse, the loving family he hoped would embrace him is in shambles, shattered by a senseless tragedy that has cleaved the family in two. They want nothing to do with this youthful bounder who’s barged into their lives. Ever the optimist, Shelley concocts a plan to resuscitate his American dream by insinuating himself into the family. And, who knows, maybe he’ll even manage to bring them back together in the process. – Counterpoint Press
Late Bloomers by Deepa Varadarajan
“I have a soft spot for underdogs. And late bloomers. You’ve told me a lot of things about yourself, so let me tell you something about me.”
After thirty-six years of a dutiful but unhappy arranged marriage, recently divorced Suresh and Lata Raman find themselves starting new paths in life. Suresh is trying to navigate the world of online dating on a website that caters to Indians and is striking out at every turn—until he meets a mysterious, devastatingly attractive younger woman who seems to be smitten with him. Lata is enjoying her newfound independence, but she’s caught off guard when a professor in his early sixties starts to flirt with her.
Meanwhile, Suresh and Lata’s daughter, Priya, thinks her father’s online pursuits are distasteful even as she embarks upon a clandestine affair of her own. And their son, Nikesh, pretends at a seemingly perfect marriage with his law-firm colleague and their young son, but hides the truth of what his relationship really entails. Over the course of three weeks in August, the whole family will uncover one another’s secrets, confront the limits of love and loyalty, and explore life’s second chances.
Charming, funny, and moving, Late Bloomers introduces a delightful new voice in fiction with the story of four individuals trying to understand how to be happy in their own lives—and as a family. – Penguin Random House
Are there other multigenerational family dramas that you enjoy or want to read? Let us know in the comments!