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Books About Raising a Problem Kid


Outstanding contemporary American writer Anne Lamott's latest novel, Imperfect Birds--about a troubled teenage girl and the challenges her deceptions present to her parents--came out in paperback this week. Reminiscent of Lamott's earlier work and featuring the characters of Elizabeth and her daughter Rosie from Rosie and the subsequent Crooked Little Heart, Imperfect Birds paints a realistic picture of parents in denial about the extent of their daughter's drug addiction. Novels about challenging family dynamics and troubled teenagers resonate, and even though coming-of-age novels are common, Lamott's latest feels particularly vivid and timely. The more Elizabeth and her husband James punish and restrict Rosie, the worse her problem becomes.

Where is the road to redemption and how do these characters reverse the downward spiral? That's the answer readers look for because it's a consistent parenting question, and because of that universal concern that Lamott observes at the beginning of the book: "There are so many evils that pull on our children."

Here are a few other adult novels that deal with the challenges of having or being "the problem kid.":

  1. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
  2. The Pact by Jodi Picoult
  3. Night Road by Kristin Hannah
  4. The Rest of Her Life by Anne Lamott
  5. Testimony by Anita Shreve

What other books about the complex relationship between parents and teens have moved you?


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