Who’s your real family? Unconventional families in YA, from ‘This Raging Light’ to ‘How I Live Now’

What does the word “family” actually mean? Is it just to be saved for those that raised you, that share the same blood? Or is it something more?


Estelle Laure’s fantastic book, ‘This Raging Light’ explores these questions, among many others. And here we’ve featured some of our favourite YA books that do the same.

unconventional families YA

1. ‘This Raging Light’ by Estelle Laure – With both parents out of the picture, it’s up to Lucille to look after her sister, and pay the bills. But is she really on her own?

2. ‘Lock and Key’ by Sarah Dessen – “Ruby, where is your mother?” Made to live with the sister she hasn’t seen for ten years, life’s about to get really mucked up.

3. ‘How I Live Now’ by Meg Rosoff – Packed off to visit family she’s never met before the real meaning of family and love and the boundaries of those are discovered, and tested.

4. ‘Wild Swans’ by Jessica Spotswood – Family secrets, intense pressure, expectations and pushing the ties that bind to breaking point.

5. ‘Lies Like Love’ by Louisa Reid – An intense story that asks if it’s possible to love someone too much? And is it really from love that they are acting out of?

6. ‘Paper Butterflies’ by Lisa Heathfield – June’s home life sucks. It more than sucks. It’s absolutely horrific. An important book that show just how easy it is to miss cases of abuse, from both inside a house and outside it.

Is there a book we should have featured on this list? Tweet it to us @maximumpopbooks

And hey, it’s not all bad. Books are awesome for making us feel these things. Speaking of which, you can get all the feels in your own copy of ‘This Raging Light’. Available right here.

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Written by Sarah Clare

Sarah is the Lead Writer and Design Queen here at Maximum Pop! Sarah holds an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University, and a BA in Creative Writing with English Literature from Marjon (BIG UP THE MARJON MASSIVE!). Sarah joined MP! after seeing an advertisement for writers on Instagram – because where else would a design master find their dream job?

Sarah is currently working on an expose on Draco Malfoy in her spare time. But not if his father hears about it.

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