Books about Family Issues

 

Good Books for Tough Times 9-12 - FAMILY ISSUES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the Wall

Author Renate Ahrens
Translator Siobhan Parkinson
Reading age 10+
Interest level 10+

Review Eleven year-old Karo lives with her mum – it’s always just been the two of them together, and that’s how she likes it. But one day a strangely-dressed man turns up at the front door, saying he’s her father.  Where has he been all her life, and why did her mum say her father was dead?  And how dare he come and intrude on her happy life with mum? 

Against the background of the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany, this gripping story follows Karo as she struggles to come to terms with a huge change in family life.

Publisher Little Island
Published 2010
Price £5.99
ISBN 9781848409446

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Sundae Girl

Author Cathy Cassidy
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9+

Review Cathy Cassidy succeeds brilliantly in covering a lot of serious issues in a funny, easy-to-read story about Jude, her embarrassing family, and Kevin on rollerblades who fancies her. 

Inside this apparently frothy novel about a girl and her life at school and home, the story tackles Jude’s worries: about her dad and his new partner, her gran’s increasing frailty, and especially her mum, who keeps promising to give up smoking and drinking, but never quite manages it…

Publisher Puffin Books
Published 2007
Price £5.99
ISBN 9780141322100

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No Goodbye

Author Marita Conlon-McKenna
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9-12

Review ‘She’s gone!’  When Mum walks out, Greg, Lucy, Grace and Conor are left with Dad to try and deal with the practical and emotional effects of sudden abandonment by a mum they adore.  Each chapter is related by a different child in turn, as each in their own way struggles with the shock and bewilderment of their situation. 

As they learn that mum has gone away to ‘be herself again’, they start to plan how to bring her home.  The book ends on a hopeful note, but doesn’t gloss over the difficulties and turmoil that parental separation brings.

Publisher The O’Brien Press
Published 1994
Price £6.99
ISBN 9780862783624

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Fire Mask

Author Franzeska G. Ewart
Illustrator Dylan Gibson
Reading age 9-12
Interest level 9-12

Review Josh’s dad returns from serving in Iraq, badly injured after stepping on a land mine.  His disfigured face is hidden behind a white mask as surgeons work to treat his burns. 

Two of Josh’s classmates make fun of his dad’s situation, but when he takes revenge the consequences are almost tragic. 

This is a short, easy to read story about coping with anger and fear, and the true nature of friendship.

Publisher Barrington Stoke   
Published 2010   
Price £4.99   
ISBN 9781842997628

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Helicopter Man

Author Elizabeth Fensham
Reading age 10+
Interest level 10+

Review Ever since Mum died, Pete and his Dad have been on the move.  Now they’re living in an abandoned shed at the bottom of a garden, taking care to cover their tracks and hiding whenever helicopters appear.  Dad says they’re being pursued by a secret organisation, but Pete is beginning to have his doubts. 

Set in Australia, this is a warm and compelling story of a young boy coming to terms with his father’s schizophrenia – or, as Pete says, ‘Skiz-whatever-you-call-it disease.’

Publisher Bloomsbury
Published 2005   
Price £5.99
ISBN 9780747575498

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The Runner

Author Keith Gray
Illustrator Jessica Meserve
Reading age 9-12
Interest level 9-12

Review Jason is on an Intercity train, bound for Liverpool.  Tired of his parents’ endless arguments, he’s left home, skipped school and is going to stay with his older brother. 

On the train, he meets another boy, Jam, who claims to travel all over the country, avoiding ticket inspectors and stealing food.   Jason is attracted by Jam’s independence – but the world of the Runner is not what it seems. 

This short and beautifully illustrated story will resonate with children who feel the need to escape from a difficult situation.

Publisher Corgi Yearling   
Published 2005   
Price £3.99   
ISBN 9780440866565

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Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea

Author Michael Morpurgo
Reading age 10+
Interest level 10+

Review This wonderful story will inspire children who are growing up apart from their birth parents. 

Arthur Hobhouse was shipped to Australia with other orphans at the age of six and raised in terrible conditions.  Now, sixty years later and approaching the end of his life, he recalls good times as well as bad, and wonders about the sister whom he left behind in England.  He builds a boat and his daughter, Allie, sails off to find Auntie Kitty. 

Beautifully written, harrowing and heartwarming, this is a gripping read.

Publisher HarperCollins Children’s Books
Published 2007
Price £5.99
ISBN 9780007230587

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Hetty Feather

Author Jacqueline Wilson
Reading age 10-12
Interest level 10-12

Review Hetty Feather is another of Jacqueline Wilson’s redoubtable and very appealing young heroines. 

Abandoned at birth in 1876, she is raised firstly by a family in the country, but is then returned to the harsh regime of the Foundling Hospital in London, to be prepared for life as a servant.  But Hetty, whose temperament is as fiery as her red hair, has other ideas. 

This is an engaging, uncompromising but ultimately heartwarming story of a young girl’s struggle to find her mother – and to find herself.

Publisher Corgi Yearling
Published 2010
Price £5.99
ISBN 9780440868354

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The Illustrated Mum

Author Jacqueline Wilson
Reading age 11+
Interest level 11+

Review This book has won many awards, including Children’s Book of the Year, and rightly so. 

It’s the story of Dolphin, her sister Star and their heavily tattooed single mum, Marigold, who seems at first to be merely unconventional but is gradually revealed to be manic depressive.  The two girls have to cope with their mother’s mental illness at the same time as coming to terms with the discoveries of their own fathers. 

This is a bold, perceptive and sometimes shocking story,
brought to a satisfying, unsentimental conclusion.

Publisher Corgi Yearling   
Published 2007
Price £5.99
ISBN 9780440867814

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The Truth About Leo

Author David Yelland
Reading age 10+
Interest level 10+

Review Leo has a secret – his dad is an alcoholic. Even before Mum died it was never spoken about and since she went things have got much worse. Just occasionally he catches a glimpse of the old Dad, the one who used to play pyjama football before breakfast, but mostly he sees a stranger who shouts, yells and smashes things up.

What could have been a truly disheartening tale turns out to be surprisingly uplifting as Leo finally shares his burden and opens the door to a more positive future.  Skilful writing makes this difficult issue accessible to children.

Publisher Puffin Books   
Published 2010   
Price £6.99
ISBN 9780141330037

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