Elizabeth Murray is the author of newly released Caramel Hearts (released in Australia TODAY!), a beautiful YA contemporary full of love about discovering the true value of friends and family. I will be posting a review for this soon but in the mean time here is a guest blog by the author Elizabeth Murray recommending her favourite books about family. We hope you enjoy!
About E.R. Murray: Elizabeth Rose Murray lives in West Cork, Ireland, where she fishes, grows her own vegetables and enjoys outdoor adventures. Her debut, The Book of Learning: Nine Lives Trilogy 1 is the Dublin UNESCO Citywide Read for 2016. Caramel Hearts is her first book for young adults. Elizabeth loves travel, and has taught creative writing in schools around the world, including Cambodia. While travelling, Elizabeth also parachuted out of an aeroplane, swam with sharks and stingrays, and ate lots of insects.You can contact Elizabeth via her website www.ermurray.com, Twitter @ERMurray, instagram and Facebook.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie – A beautiful novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the powerful bonds of family, and the bright promise of freedom. I love the geographical and political backdrop of Nigeria, and the depiction of the sibling relationship between Kambili and Jaja is pitch perfect. This novel perfectly conveys the pressures and responsibilities of teenage years when faced with immense cruelty; the tension, fears and sense of responsibility.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – With its American Civil War backdrop and poignant look at the effects upon the March family, this is probably one of the most famous books about sisters and one that has stayed with me since reading it as a child. The family life is beautifully evoked and very real, and the extremely different personalities makes for plenty of friction and some gripping reading. Far from idealised, but still manages to be uplifting.
Bloodsong/Bloodtide by Melvin Burgess – Not for the faint hearted, this dystopian young adult series really packs a punch – perfect if you like adventures without boundaries. The rival Volson and Connor families are passionate, cruel and magnificent, and as we witness them functioning as independent family units, we get to see how far blood ties can be pushed. The result is an epic tale of treachery, revenge and retribution.
Wild Swans by Jung Chang – This poignant yet harrowing true-life depiction of a family in China delivers on so many levels. Piecing together the lives of three generations of women, we are witness to how extreme social pressures and dynamics, such as the cruel Chinese Cultural Revolution, can shape, divide and strengthen the bonds of family. This is one of the most incredible biographies ever written; brave, honest, harrowing, and yet full of hope.
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan – A gorgeous yet heartbreaking tale of fractured families and learning to love. Through the eyes of the unforgettable Apple, we witness the return of an absent mother and the hope, betrayal, challenges and disappointments that this entails. A real page-turner, and a rollercoaster ride, full of emotion. The relationship between Apple and her Nana is particularly memorable.
The Wild Things by Dave Eggers – This is an unforgettable tale of not fitting in, dreaming big, and coping (or not) with responsibilities. Max is a magical character, and the magical realism is sublime. I also love that this is adapted from the picture book Where the Wild Things Are and also based on the screenplay – a perfect example of how a story can evolve.
Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey – a haunting portrayal of a Dublin family dealing with the effects of alcoholism through the eyes of a child. The narrative is authentic and lyrical, written with honesty and lightened with humour. I love that this book is completely real yet unsentimental, raw yet dignified.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy – if you like dark, post apocalyptic tales, this is for you. A father and son travel a dangerous road with just a pistol to protect themselves. As they traverse the ravaged landscape, their interaction is both touching and heartwarming as they try to maintain normal lives while fighting to survive. A tense, beautiful, yet frightening look at how families endure under the most extreme circumstances.
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit – A classic from 1906, the beauty of this book is the way in which it depicts the strength and values of a family unit. The main character Bobbie shows us both her need for her family, and a need for solitude, giving a well-rounded look at what it’s like to have siblings. An uplifting story of overcome challenges; sometimes by relying on those you love and sometimes going it alone.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – An extraordinary and moving novel about love, loss and grief. It’s dark, haunting and memorable. The fantastical elements as thirteen-year old Conor deals with his mother’s cancer are skillfully handled, and be warned, there may be tears. It’s also beautifully produced, with sublime illustrations by Jim Kay.
My Name’s Not Friday by Jon Walter – although this is classed as a middle grade novel, I would recommend everyone reads it. Set during the American Civil War, we follow the plight of Samuel, sold into slavery and separated from his brother Joshua, as he fights to survive and reunite family. The writing is brave and moving. Warning: you will fall in love with the main character Samuel from the outset and he will stay with you for a very long time.