Five Fictional Families Who Are Probably More Dysfunctional Than Yours

Ah, Thanksgiving. The perfect holiday to kick back with your closest of friends and family, stuff yourself to the gills with turkey and mashed potatoes, and pass out on the couch.If your family was anything like mine, though, Thanksgiving was always fraught with stress and tension. Whether it was balancing schedules with in-laws or remembering whose turn it was to bring the cranberry sauce to the traditional potluck buffet, there was always something that would bring on the arguments.

To help you put things in perspective before the holiday, though, here’s a list of fictional families who are probably more dysfunctional than yours:

The Caspers from The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno

Dad faints at the slightest resemblance of a cloud and searches for an elusive giant squid. Mom obsesses over her experiment involving murderous lab pigeons.

One beret wearing teenage sister seeks to awaken the youth of Chicago to the injustices of society by blowing up her high school newsroom. The other sister finds rebellion in God, but secretly falls in love with another girl. Sounds like a perfect recipe for dysfunction to me!

The Great Perhaps

The Cooks from A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

A wealthy Iowa farmer plans to divide his estate between his three daughters but cuts the youngest out of the deal after she expresses dissatisfaction.

Long suppressed emotions and dark secrets rise to the surface in a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear set in the American Midwest. Need I say more?

A Thousand Acres

The Dollanganger Family from Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Andrews serves up dysfunction with a side of abuse and a bit of incest for dessert. After Dad dies in a tragic accident, Mom takes her four children to live with grandmother in her vast mansion.

But grandmother, cruel and superstitious, locks the children away in the top floor of the north wing where she starves, whips, and eventually poisons them.

Flowers in the Attic

Angela’s and Richard’s families from The Red House by Mark Haddon

After the death of their mother, Richard invites his estranged sister, Angela, and her family to vacation with his in the English countryside.

Add one part moody teenage girl to one part testosterone driven seventeen year old jock and mix in an 8 year old boy dealing with existential angst and a mother still mourning the loss of a firstborn eighteen years later. Stew for 272 pages of maladjusted madness and enjoy!

The Red House

The McFarlands from Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

Ever discuss the hidden meanings of certain shapes and colors in the LGBTQ code of sexual fetishes with your parents at the Thanksgiving table?

This is just one of reasons why Shannon McFarland hates her brother, who died from AIDS, so much. Don’t worry, there’s much more dysfunction where that came from!

Invisible Monsters Remix

One thing I’m thankful for this November? I won’t be sharing a Thanksgiving meal with any of these families!

- William is the Cataloging and Collection Development Coordinator at Lawrence Public Library.

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