Found Family: Literature That Celebrates Families of Choice

By Estefanía Vélez, Library Information Assistant
December 9, 2020
Woodlawn Heights Library

For many, the holiday season is a time in which we pay special homage to the importance of family, friendship, and community. It is important to remember, however, that these bonds come in all forms. As we explore the diversity and nuances of different homes and communities, literature that focuses on found families proves especially interesting! 

The "Found Family" or “Family of Choice” trope refers to a device in literature and media where a group of characters find themselves united in a family-bond based on shared experiences, mutual understanding, and interpersonal connection. These arrangements often bring familial love they may have otherwise missed into their lives. Rather than the blood ties that may dictate some biological families, found family stories emphasize the connections and communities we choose for ourselves. These narratives are often especially resonant for members of disenfranchised communities, such as those in the LGBTQ+ community, who keenly understand that unconditional love comes in all forms, and so do families.

Whether you’re a fan of The Mandalorian, Naomi Novak’s Spinning Silver, or Pose, media centering on chosen families now abound. This holiday season, consider celebrating the beauty of families of choice through these selections available through The New York Public Library:

 

Upright Women Wanted  by Sarah Gailey

Esther is a stowaway attempting to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her—a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to the woman Esther loved. The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

 

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Casara

It’s 1980 in New York City in the Harlem ball scene where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Angel begins a powerful transformation as she falls in love, develops her identity, and becomes the house mother to a group of LGBT+ youth who will change her life forever.

 

Every Heart a Doorway  by Seanan McGuire

Children have always disappeared from Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, but magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. Each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world, but Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter. No matter the cost.
 

Aurora Rising by Sarah Gailey

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch.

 

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. 
 

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

The surviving members of a forgotten teen detective club and their dog reunite as broken adults to embark on a wacky effort to solve a terrifying cold case that ruined them all and sent the wrong man to prison.

 

The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman

After the tragic death of one of its members, Mikey reconnects with his childhood friends known as "The Gunners." Sally had distanced herself from all of them before ending her life, and she died harboring secrets about the group and its individuals. Mikey knows he needs to confront dark secrets about his own past and his father. How much of this darkness accounts for the emotional stupor Mikey is suffering from as he reaches his maturity? And can The Gunners, prompted by Sally’s death, find their way to a new day? 
 

Watch Over Meby Nina LaCour

Mila has just graduated high school and aged out of the foster care system. When she’s offered a job and a place to stay on the California Coast, she immediately accepts. While she searches for a new place to call home, she must challenge haunting memories of the past. 

 

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

As London is emerging from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton discovers her next subject in a book club on Guernsey--a club born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi after its members are discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island.

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction--if they don't kill each other first.

 

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!