Our families provide comfort. They can also drive us up the wall. Often it’s a combination of both — and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The celebrated family dramedy books below tap into that mix, delivering laugh-out-loud narratives that capture the joys and challenges of being part of a family.
11 Hilariously Relatable Family Dramedy Books
These heartwarming reads bring home the laughs.
If We're Being Honest
By Cat Shook
Nothing brings a family together quite like a funeral. In this “appealing, astutely observed debut about familial love and the secrets we keep” (Kirkus), Cat Shook introduces us to the Williams family. The close-knit clan gathers in Georgia to mourn the passing of their beloved patriarch, Gerry — but things take a chaotic turn when some uncomfortable truths are revealed during the eulogy. Spanning one momentous week and interweaving a cast of eccentric characters to tell its charming tale, If We’re Being Honest is suffused with heartbreak and hilarity. Readers are sure to enjoy Shook’s portrayal of big-family dynamics as cousins, parents, aunts, and uncles all work through their emotions and turn to each other for comfort.
By Jessica George
Part family drama and part coming-of-age story, Jessica George’s poignant debut explores the challenges of finding your place within your family as you grow into adulthood. Maame follows Maddie, a young woman in London who struggles to balance her familial duties with her desire to explore the world as an adult, all while coming to terms with her Ghanaian roots and British identity. After Maddie’s mom returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie finally strikes out on her own, where she soon discovers the promise and pain of independent living. An “evocative — and, at times, gloriously messy — coming-of-age story [that] tackles enormous contemporary topics and issues” (The Boston Globe), Maame will resonate with anyone who feels caught between two homes.
All Adults Here
By Emma Straub
In All Adults Here, Emma Straub reminds us that the one constant to being a parent is making mistakes and learning to deal with the consequences. The bestselling novel centers on Astrid, a grandmother in her 60s. After witnessing a school bus accident, Astrid is hit by a moment of reflection: Perhaps her track record as a parent isn’t as impeccable as she likes to believe. As Astrid reaches out to her now-adult children, each struggling with their own issues and parenting mistakes, she searches for a way to own up to her past and strengthen the bonds she shares with her family. A book about love, regret, and personal growth, Straub’s warm and witty narrative is all about acceptance and forgiveness of those closest to you.
The Family Fang
By Kevin Wilson
The Fang clan is likely more dysfunctional than your average household, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find plenty to love in Kevin Wilson’s hilarious family dramedy book. The acclaimed novel follows Annie and Buster, two grown siblings who are forced to move back in with their performance-artist parents — parents they’ve spent their entire adult lives trying to avoid. Living again under one roof, the Fangs must confront the chaos of their shared past if they hope to reconnect and move forward as a family.
The Fortunes of Jaded Women
By Carolyn Huynh
Funny, sad, and magical, Carolyn Huynh’s The Fortunes of Jaded Women celebrates resiliency and the extraordinary bond of family. Many years ago, Oanh made the fateful decision to leave her marriage for her true love, unleashing a multigenerational curse: Oanh’s descendants would only give birth to daughters, all of whom would be unhappy in matters of the heart. Flash forward to the present: Divorcee Mai Nguyen is all too familiar with the family curse. That is, until she receives a startling prediction from a psychic that her family is about to experience a funeral, a marriage, and the birth of a son. “Written with crackling humor and a shrewd, intimate understanding of Vietnamese American family life” (Kirkus), Huynh’s winning family saga reminds us that as frustrating as our loved ones can be, they’re also the source of our greatest healing.
By Cynthia D’Apryx Sweeney
In The Nest, Cynthia D’Apryx Sweeney delivers a bighearted family dramedy book about sticking together through spectacular dysfunction. The narrative centers on the troubles of the Plumb family — financial, emotional, and otherwise. After jeopardizing the family nest egg with yet another reckless stunt, eldest brother Leo realizes he needs to make things right with his family and remedy the awful position he’s put his loved ones in. Meanwhile, Leo’s siblings, Jack, Bea, and Melody, must reckon with the choices that landed them in their own dire straits. Resentments and estrangement give way to a newfound closeness in this feel-good book, suggesting that sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to discover who your loved ones really are.
Crazy Rich Asians
By Kevin Kwan
Even if you’ve seen the hit book-to-movie adaptation, Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians is definitely worth a read. The celebrated family dramedy centers on Rachel Chu, who finds herself a bit over her head after agreeing to spend the summer with her boyfriend, Nicholas. Rachel imagined a quiet vacation in Singapore with her sweetheart; instead, she discovers that Nicholas and his family are insanely rich. As Rachel navigates Singaporean high society and is put through the wringer by Nicholas’s tony relatives, she also must win over Nicholas’s mother — a woman who has very strong opinions about the person her son will marry. This is a book not just about family but about love, class, and the all-too-familiar feeling that you don’t fit in.
By Patrick DeWitt
A send-up of high society that’s also a story of generational trauma, Patrick DeWitt’s French Exit follows Upper East Side widow Frances Price as she escapes to Paris in the wake of a scandal. Accompanying her is her troubled son Malcolm and the housecat she believes is possessed by the spirit of her dead husband. While their relationship is icy at first, Frances and Malcolm soon warm up to each other to reveal the hurt beneath their hard exteriors, illustrating the importance of healing and breaking free from cycles of familial neglect.
This Is Where I Leave You
By Jonathan Tropper
This Is Where I Leave You is another witty family drama set against the backdrop of a funeral — and like a few other books on our list, it inspired a hit movie adaptation. The bestselling novel centers on Judd Foxman and the reunited Foxman family as they sit shiva for the family patriarch. Of course, a funeral in a family dramedy book isn’t complete without plenty of complicated issues rising to the surface. In this case, we learn that Judd’s wife, who recently had an affair with Judd’s shock-jock radio boss, is pregnant. While Jonathan Tropper’s narrative starts out on the glib side of funny, the narrative deepens as Judd ruminates on parenthood as he grieves the loss of his own father.
Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe
By Evan James
Anyone who’s ever endured the chaos of a supposedly peaceful family getaway will find plenty to enjoy in this sharp and funny novel. In Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe Evan James introduces us to Carol Widdicombe. The family matriarch is determined to have fun with her loved ones at their new island manor estate this summer — but she faces trouble on all sides. Her rudderless husband is suffering from despair, her son is heartbroken after a year abroad in Italy, and a swirling cast of friends, neighbors, and staff are stirring up all manner of fizzy drama.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette
By Maria Semple
In her New York Times bestseller, Maria Semple delivers a “cracklingly smart family dramedy” (Lev Grossman, Time) about a complicated mother–daughter relationship. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is an epistolary novel told through emails, official documents, and video transcripts. It follows 15-year-old Bee as she searches for her mysteriously missing mother, the mercurial Seattle architect Bernadette Fox. Semple’s send-up of helicopter parenting, private school family drama, and the tech gurus of the Pacific Northwest is a joy to read. Behind the satire, however, is a heartfelt portrait of a smart girl and her smart mother and the complicated loss many of us feel when we give up promising careers for family.