How Hard Can It Be by Allison Pearson, Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
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7 Books About Made-Up Parents That Spoke to Me as A Real-Life Parent

Mar 15, 2019

I know there are a ton of great non-fiction books out there about parenting. There are insightful memoirs, educational tomes, thought-provoking investigations and more — but I simply cannot resist the allure of fiction.

Diving into the characters, stories and all of those details that make it such an experience — I simply adore it. And I’ve come to realize that most of my most treasured reads have memorable characters, and they all happen to be parents. What I most particularly like is that they are characters living non-traditional parenting situations, to some extent. These characters and relationships caught my attention and simply didn’t let go, and I like to think that my perspective was stretched with every page. So if you’d like a novel classified as an “easy read” but with enough substance to make you think, crack open one of these picks.


Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (Written by Maria Semple)

Bernadette is an unforgettable character. She’s a talented architect who has made a secret deal not to design anymore. This book reveals those bargains we make to protect our children, and why an agoraphobic parent could or would disappear. Oh, and it’s also side-splittingly funny, with relatable descriptions of the dynamics within competitive schools and type-A parents.


Little Fires Everywhere (Written by Celeste Ng)

Popular with the book club circuit, this book reveals several mother-child relationships — considering adoption, surrogacy, being a single parent – while the characters are trying to do the right thing and live by their values.


The House We Grew Up In (Written by Lisa Jewell)

What happens when a mother loves her children, but a tragedy and a mental health condition leads her to embarrass them and destroy herself? A more sombre offering from Lisa Jewell than some of her other books, this read will have you mulling over life as it exists for people and parents living less-than-typical experiences.


Big Little Lies (Written by Liane Moriarty)

Maybe you’ve read this one already, or watched the miniseries. It’s worth another look to consider the parenting dynamics at play here, from divorced co-parents to a single mom to an abused wife and mother. They’re all intertwined and very, very poignant. A bittersweet, funny and heartbreaking read.


How Hard Can it Be? (Written by Allison Pearson)

You'll be laughing out loud one page, crying the next and nodding emphatically the whole time. The long awaited sequel to I Don’t Know How She Does It looks at the challenge of parenting teens in a digital age, being part of the sandwich generation and returning to a career after raising children. All under the raging effects of peri-menopause. The main character has aged along with us and makes for a very relatable read.


Modern Lovers (Written by Emma Straub)

Modern Parents could be the title of this funny and raw novel. From the lesbian couple with a daughter who is a handful to the mid-life crisis dad who finds yoga (or a scam), this story follows the twists and turns of former bandmates and college friends who are now all grown up and navigating the responsibilities of parenthood.


US (Written by David Nicholls)

Refreshingly told from the dad’s perspective, this novel charts the course of a couple’s relationship to the present, when they go on a trip around Europe with their son, who has just graduated from high school. The catch? Connie, the wife, has just asked for a divorce, and father and son have always struggled to bond. Very wry, funny and tender, this story is all about the power of the love we have for our kids, and knowing when it is time to let go and say goodbye. Plus, a really funny LEGO scene.


So take a break from the really serious reads. Indulge in some fiction. Let the characters provide moments of reflection on our own parenting styles, flubs and successes. And lose yourself in some old-fashioned storytelling.

Article Author Janice Quirt
Janice Quirt

Read more from Janice here.

Janice Quirt is a yoga teacher and freelance writer who lives in the beautiful hills of the Headwaters in Orangeville, Ontario, with her blended family of seven. With kids spanning a decade in age, there are always some shenanigans on the go, and she loves being in the middle of it all. Janice loves sharing nature, eco-living and new experiences with her family and friends, as well as a fine cup of coffee and a good book.

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