Top 10 Tuesday: Best Families in Contemporary YA

Happy Tuesday, friends! Hopefully most of us are enjoying a shorter week since we had yesterday off! We’re back for another Top 10 Tuesday hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. We decided to put our own little twist on Favorite Characters in a Genre and show huge appreciation for some awesome families we have loved getting to know.

See… the thing about YA is that sometimes the home life/the family are pushed into the background and we never get to know them or they never affect the story. This is something that plagues us because in our lives, our families were always affecting our teenage lives — whether it was positive or negative. Family dynamics just add such a richness to a story, and help us to better understand our characters.

Hopefully you’ll check out a few of our picks!


Top Ten Tuesday Best Families in YA Estelle Picks

1. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally: I just reread this book last week, and one of my main takeaways was Jordan’s mom and brother. Jordan is kind of a tomboy who is always thinking about football and her opportunities to play in college. Her mom is at every single one of her games, supporting her, as well as subtly trying to get Jordan to embrace her girly and creative sides. Jordan’s brother, Mike, already plays football in college and is at home whenever he can, pushing Jordan to play her best. When she finally shows interest in a guy, he’s totally excited for her (protective too) and wants her to go for it. (Sidenote: even Jordan’s dad who doesn’t always act ideally adds dimension to this story.) (Our joint review.)

2. Also Known As by Robin Benway: A family of spies? Totally a different upbringing than I’m used to. (You are shocked, I know.) Maggie’s parents had a lot of faith in their daughter to go on a solo mission. (Not like they could have done it, but still.) I think the mom and dad were funny, sweet, protective + they formed quite a tight family unit because of their spy talents and their lifestyle. Definitely a highlight of the book. (My review.)

3. The Difference Between You + Me by Madeline George: This is an oldie but goodie from last year that flew under the radar. It’s the story of Jesse, a strong girl in high school, who came out to her parents a long time ago. This quote always stuck with me: “Once,” Fran says, settling against the worktable, folding her arms, “I knew this kid who very bravely and bossily came out of the closet when she was only fourteen years old. She told me then that we can’t choose who we love. We just love the people we love, no matter what anyone else might want for us. Wasn’t that you?” Fran is Jesse’s mom + I have not forgotten the acceptance and pure love I felt when I read that scene. (My review.)

4. Queen of Kentucky by Alicia Whitaker: There are many reasons I related to this book: the main character was hoping to obtain some kind of cool stamp when she started her new school. Clothes, boys, music, makeup — there was so much to learn. And what I loved about Ricki Jo’s mom is that she was so accepting of this change, and her daughter evolving into a young woman. She still set realistic boundaries for her daughter, and disciplined her… she wasn’t just her friend. I really enjoyed their mother/daughter relationship. (Goodreads)

5. Not Exactly a Love Story by Audrey Couloumbis: This was one of my favorites from the end of last year (go read it!) about a boy dealing with a move after the divorce of his parents. We get scenes with both his mom and his dad, and they honestly couldn’t be  more different. It’s obvious how much Vinnie cares for these two people who grew apart, and who have so suddenly changed his life. While his mom sort of drove me nuts (she has bad habits!), I really did enjoy the scenes when he was spending time with him and they shared common hobbies. (And they say teenagers don’t care about their parents…) (My review.)


Rather Be Reading Top Ten Tuesday - strong families represented in young adult books

1. Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett: I’ve read quite a few books recently where characters are in the foster care system. Oftentimes, the bad, negative side is the focus, and as someone who cares very much about these kids, I couldn’t have been happier to see Jen find two foster parents (who had two biological children as well) fight for her. They tried so hard to make sure she knew how much she was loved. One of my favorite, favorite elements of Geek Girl was the strong sense of family. (My review.)

2. Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway: How absurd that Estelle also chose one of Robin’s books. (That makes me ridiculously happy to see because now I’m 1000x even more excited for Also Known As!) I told my husband, Dustyn, that I wanted to be like the parents in Audrey, Wait. They were so down to earth, so much so that I found myself laughing out loud a ton at the interactions between Audrey and her parents. They were such an integral part of all the drama surround Audrey and her terrible break-up. I loved that they were so caring and actively participating in their daughter’s life. I feel in a lot of situations, the parents in YA books wouldn’t have had a clue their daughter was struggling. (Goodreads)

3. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick: Okay, so sure Samantha’s mother is downright atrocious sometimes, but let’s focus on the Garrett family. They have tons of kids, everyone is super close, they all have their role, and they’re a bit chaotic, but somehow, they make things work. I kid you not, guys, I’ve never wanted a big family (well, this big), but after finishing the book, I seriously considered having seven kids. Fitzpatrick just did so, so well with the large-family dynamic! (My review.)

4. The Survival Kit by Donna Frietas: I will keep preaching about this book until all of you read it! Family is so, so integral for Rose’s story after the loss of her mom. Her family loses its footing after she passes. Sure they have some problems, but it’s figuring out how to come together and move past the grief that makes Rose’s family so strong. Of course I contemplated choosing Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson for my fifth book, but I didn’t want to choose two really sad books, so note: that book is very, very highly rated for me + another greaty family example. (My review.)

5. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: I just love, love, loved Lola’s dads. They were humorous, a bit overprotective, and super uplifting. They kept Lola grounded when she seemed to have trouble finding her way. Some of my favorite scenes took place when Cricket and Lola were helping out with the pie baking for the bakery. (Our joint review.)

We can’t wait to see what you’ve chosen for your Top Ten Tuesday post! Thanks for checking out our favorite families in contemporary YA books!

24 thoughts on “Top 10 Tuesday: Best Families in Contemporary YA

  1. Stormy says:

    I haven’t read ANY of the books you mentioned, but I just had to say I loved the way you decided to do this TTT post. It gets really frustrating to read book after book where families play either a tiny or negative role in YA. I definitely get that some families are like that but it seems to be a predominant theme.

  2. elena says:

    First off, THIS LIST LOOKS SO QT!

    Estelle, I’ve only read one book from your list (SHAME!!!!) but I’m definitely going to rectify that soon. I love that Jordan’s mom and brother support her so much. The quote from The Difference Between You + Me is absolutely fantastic! I love the family in Also Known As too, it makes me think of Spy Kids. I want a cool family like that!! aaand next time I check out Not Exactly a Love Story from the library, I will DEFINITELY read it.

    Magan, I love the point you made about Geek Girl because it’s so true. I liked how support the foster family was too and that it showed a positive side for once. I LOVE the parents in Audrey, Wait! and 100% believe you and D will be fantastic parents. Definitely the kind of parents YA can look up to. 🙂 The Garretts were the best in My Life Next Door! You also made me want pie thanks to Lola.

    Fantastic list, you two!

  3. Lori says:

    I love the theme of your list! I read The Difference Between You and Me and really liked it. I wish it would have gotten more attention. I still really want to read Queen of Kentucky.

    I LOVED Lola’s family! They were so great.

    Fabulous list, ladies!

  4. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    The Garrett family in My Life Next Door and Lola’s dads in Lola and the Boy Next Door are two of my favorite families!! I loved their characters and relationships to the story so so much. Also, so glad The Survival Kit is making an appearance on this list. I wish more people would read this book!

  5. Judith says:

    Oh, I love this topic so much! And though I’ve only read two books on your list, they just have some of my all time favorite fictional families. Lola’s dads are amazing! I love how much they love and support Lola, even though she dresses up like the um, unique person she is. And the Garretts – YES! I love their dynamics so much and dang it, I just want to be a part of the their family <3

  6. daphne says:

    what a great topic & list! great families are often missing in YA and I like that you pointed out the good ones. i just finished Second Chance Summer last night and loved it and if it’s a honorary mention for you, i will definitely need to add some of these to my TBR. 🙂

  7. April Books & Wine says:

    I have not ready any of Estelle’s choices — FAIL! BUT the first three are on my TBR and I think I want to get to Catching Jordan and Also Known As sooner rather than later — the strong family aspects really appeal to me.

    The parents of Audrey, Wait ARE so awesome indeed. I want to be chill like them if I ever become a parent as well.

    Oh my gosh, I love LOVE the Garrett family so much. They are absolutely wonderful. All the way.

    Lola’s dads = WINNING. They rocked.

  8. Daphne says:

    love the topic! great families are often missing in YA, but I’m glad you pointed out some good ones. i just finished Second Chance Summer last night and if it’s an honorable mention for you, I’ll definitely need to add some of these to my TBR. 🙂

  9. Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) says:

    Everytime I see Miranda Kenneally’s books, I immediately think of Estelle because I know you love them, Estelle! I think I want to feature some or all of them during my contemporary month. I also want to feature Lola and the Boy Next Door, Megan, so YAY for both of you throwing books up there that are on my to-read-very-very-soon list!

    Also, gosh, My Life Next Door. Such a great family in that book. So fantastic.

    I’m bookmarking this post so I can come check some of these books out again. Besides My Life Next Door and Audrey, Wait! I haven’t read any of these and I totally trust you guys when you recommend and suggest stuff. LOVE that y’all chose to focus on family!

  10. Tabitha S. says:

    ALRIGHT. Can I start off by saying how adorable your blog is? SERIOUSLY. I don’t know how I’m just now finding it, but I’m kind of obsessed now. So props to you guys. 😀

    LOVE this post – it’s definitely something that’s overlooked in the young adult genre and I wish I had thought of it as a post topic this week. I’ve only read two books of off your guys list *hangs head in shame*, but I loved both of them!!

    That scene in Lola and the Boy Next Door… AH. Incredible.

    PS: If you see a lot of comments from me today, please don’t be weirded out.

    My Top Ten

  11. Lisa [is busy nerding] says:

    I am SO with you both on loving family dynamics and the richness they add to a story!

    I also respectfully submit Amy’s family from Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour (for richness and depth and realism) and all the families from The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (for uniqueness and depth).

  12. Kim says:

    What a great idea to highlight the families! You’re right, they often take a back seat to the main character, so it’s nice to recognize the good ones once in awhile. I love your list.

  13. Cecelia says:

    I love where you took this idea – so original! And it does seem that sometimes families are lost in the YA shuffle, so it’s great to have your handy guide to good ones.

    If I can offer two others that could earn a place on the list… Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt and Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern also feature awesome families.

    Great list – thanks for sharing!

  14. Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve been making the rounds of my favourite blogs — but LOVE the new design! It’s so pretty! Your old design was stellar as well, but this one is just so … perfect for the two of you!

    LOVE your list! I totally agree with the Garretts in My Life Next Door (that family was truly my favourite part of the book) and the dads in Lola too!

  15. Sharon @ The Book Barbies says:

    The Garrett family is one of my favorite fictional families EVER. I love them. ♥ I also agree with your thoughts on Jordan’s family in Catching Jordan. I especially liked her brother and mother, and I definitely see how her dad added an interesting dynamic to the family.

  16. Jamie says:

    OK I LOVE THIS. I have a lot of these books but have only read Lola and Audrey, Wait and I LOOOOOVED the families portrayed in those two. It’s so important to me to see this sometimes because so often families get shoved out of the equation!

  17. Alexa Y. says:

    I love that you guys chose to highlight families for this TTT! I think family is always an integral part of our lives (whether it’s the family you’re born into or the family that chooses you/you choose), and it’s always fun to see that being highlighted in YA.

    Among my favorites in your choices are Also Known As and My Life Next Door – both have great examples of families in them!

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