What is Crossover Fiction?

The magic pixie dust for how to reach lots and lots of readers may be elusive, but two things about book discoverability are indisputable: readers are always on the look out for good stories and writers are increasingly desperate to find their people. While the definition of crossover fiction within the industry is debatable—on this readers, writers, agents, editors, and publishers can agree—everyone wins when a novel has ageless appeal.

Some within publishing deem a novel “crossover” when it is written for children or young adults but attracts a healthy adult audience. The quintessential example being J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Others—mostly in the fields of public relations and marketing—consider a novel “crossover” when it is written for adults but young adults read and spread the word about it. Think—George R.R. Martin andGame of Thrones.

Two things about book discoverability are indisputable: readers are always on the look out for good stories and writers are increasingly desperate to find their people.

Many classic stories can be described as having crossed over either way. When I was coming into my own as a young adult reader, I loved (and still do) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, both novels written for adults. And regardless of when you came to experience it, who among us isn’t still fascinated by the timeless Lewis Carroll novel written for children, Alice in Wonderland?

I don’t necessarily recommend that writers set out to write a novel with appeal to adult and young adult readers. What I have been known to harp on in the writing classes I teach, is to build story worlds where something is at risk for well-developed, authentic characters. What’s at stake can be subtle—yet still powerful—like in Alice McDermott’s masterpiece Someone. Or emotionally quiet but nonetheless impactful like in Ann Packer’s The Dive From Clausen’s Pier.

Stories need not contain a car chase or a gun going off to draw readers in or keep them reading. Tension in fiction is created in a variety of ways, but always includes compelling characters, fresh plot lines, spot on pacing, charged dialogue, and settings that support the central conflict of the story.

The kind of intense curiosity that keeps readers turning pages lends itself quite well to uncovering the holy grail of book marketing—word of mouth. Readers love nothing more than to share with other readers books that have changed their lives. And I don’t know a writer who isn’t in search of a broader readership. Still crossover fiction has yet another powerful purpose which is to get readers within families reading together.

Research shows that when parents read and discuss fiction with children of all ages, they positively impact the development of the core competencies of social-emotional development, which includes nurturing self and social awareness, developing relationship skills, and influencing responsible decision-making. Reading fiction impacts the development of empathy and resilience too, and it enhances readers’ ability to navigate complex social relationships. Can you think of a better way to parent our teens than to foster connections with each other through literature?

This post would not be complete if I didn’t share some wonderful crossover fiction for you to add to your Goodreads shelves. Below you’ll find recommendations for family stories I’ve enjoyed with crossover appeal.

Family stories written for teens with crossover to adults:

Family stories written for adults with crossover appeal to young adults:

Want more? Check out this terrific list by genre of fiction with crossover appeal from @bookaddictguide.

Girl Sent Away

In Lynne Griffin’s new novel, Girl Sent Away, she takes on a topic that’s rarely discussed but which richly deserves our attention: the fear-based teenage boot camps that serve as a dark undercurrent to our domestic culture. In this book, Griffin explores that somber, frightening world, through the twinned journeys of a troubled teenage girl and her grieving father. This is a terrific and terrifying story, and one that should be told. Brava to Griffin for having the courage to do so. –Roxana Robinson, author of Cost and Sparta

Girl Sent Away is an emotional page turner that explores the ways in which grief can tear families apart and love can triumph. –Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle

From Kirkus Reviews:
With its young heroine and sensitive examination of adolescents in crisis, Girl Sent Away would do well to also find a teen audience.

This compelling novel takes us inside the lives of a girl and her father who fall prey to a horrific reality: a system of institutions that claims to treat trauma, but actually creates more of it. A must-read, especially for anyone whose life is touched by troubled teens. –Maia Szalavitz, author of Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids

Also coming in November is LET’S TALK ABOUT IT: ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH, a companion guide for reading GIRL SENT AWAY. Collaborate with Lynne to engage your community of parents, teachers, and teens in this important dialogue about preventive mental health. To invite Lynne to speak at your school, organization, or book club, email events@LynneGriffin.com.

Adolescent Rebellion

Lynne talks about adolescent rebellion on Fox Morning News

The Story Behind Sea Escape

Entertainment Weekly says, “SEA ESCAPE is a multigenerational saga that will pluck the heartstrings.

Complex Marriages in Fiction

Since the moment my husband and I announced our engagement—twenty-six years ago—I’ve heard just about all the marriage advice imaginable. Marry your best friend.” Marriage is work.” Dont go to bed angry.  Cliches without specifics didn’t resonate with me then, and now that my daughter is about to marry, I’m thinking long and hard about the pearls of wisdom I want to impart to her.

While there are lots of terrific nonfiction self-help books aimed at couples starting out, getting hitched, navigating rough patches, or even contemplating calling it quits, for the deep dive on marital relationships, I turn to fiction.

Crossing to SafetyThere’s no limit to the power of storytelling to teach. And since there are many right ways—and wrong ways—to nurture a relationship, novels provide complex and meaningful examples of what’s in store once the honeymoon is over.

One story I return to again and again is Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. I nearly sigh at the sound of the title. It’s touted as a novel about the alchemy of friendship, and it is, yet it’s also a glimpse inside two very different marriages. Sid and Charity Lang befriend Larry and Sally Morgan while both men are on the professor to tenure track at a small mid-western university. The portraits of these relationships offer much food for thought about how couples care for their relationships in the face of personal desires for independence.

Stegner writes, It all comes back in broken scenes,highlighting one of Crossing to Safetys strengths. It explores marriage in retrospect, over decades in the lives of its characters. Similarly beautiful is Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel. Set in the community of houses built on pilings in the middle of Biscayne Bay (hence the book’s title) readers watch the marriage of Frances and Dennis DuVal unfold. Against a landscape that mirrors the calm and storm of relationships, Daniel paints an authentic, heartaching view of what it means to make a commitment—and then struggle to remain true to it.

I Married You For Happiness

One of the most poignant reflections I’ve read on this subject is I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck. This slim volume captures a wife’s remembrances of her husband and their forty three years together after she finds him in their home, dead of a sudden andunexpected event. As Nina waits by his bedside for help to arrive, she recalls the trials and triumphs of their long life together. A novel layered with romance and tenderness, tension and strife, this fictional story so closely resembles real life it reads like a memoir.

If you prefer depictions of marriage more contentious, then there is no better novel than Revolutionary Roadby Richard Yates. A finalist for the National Book Award in 1962, the novel was acclaimed and beloved long before Leo and Kate starred in the film version of the story. Frank and April Wheeler are a couple in love, but their undoing is the way each copes with frustration and yearning. Often referred to as the quintessential novel of suburban malaise, in an interview for Ploughsharesten years after the novel’s release, Yates said, I think I meant it more as an indictment of American life in the 1950s. Because during the Fifties there was a general lust for conformity all over this country, by no means only in the suburbsa kind of blind, desperate clinging to safety and security at any price.Revolutionary Road

As with literary villains who are painted all bad, I’m not interested in reading only about overly dreadful marriages. I want characters and their interactions to be truly complex and multi-faceted—you know, like real relationships. Here are some more top picks in the category: reflections on marriage.

Life Drawing by Robin Black

A character-driven story about a painter and a writer navigating the intimacies and betrayals of their relationship—their art and mid-life. I fell in love with Black’s writing when I read her short story collection, If I Loved You I Would Tell You This. Verdict: read both!

The Forever Marriage by Ann Bauer

This compelling novel ponders the question, what if you longed to be out of your marriage and then suddenly your wish was granted? Reminiscent of the novels of Anne Tyler and Elizabeth Berg, I recommend this one often because of it’s originality and Bauer’s effortless storytelling.

Favorite Family Fiction of 2014

Book enthusiasts love to compile “best of” lists and post them at the end of December. Every year I consider doing it too, but when I sit down to write, I find myself bristling much like Emily Nussbaum did over creating a top ten list of TV shows. Not only is it impossible to have read all the novels published in a given year, but it feels as silly as comparing paella to democracy. I just don’t think you can set anavant-garde novel about marriage like Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation against a robust family saga like We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. You may have connected to one more than the other but in fiction all things are not equal, which means neither novel can really be deemed better than the other.

Reading (and loving) a story, its’ plot and its’ characters, is a subjective experience, one that engages the head and the heart. Any fiction round up should acknowledge that the list is merely one person’s opinion. The goal instead being to contribute to the conversation about well-written stories—ones that buried themselves in the collective unconscious and those little gems that surprised and delighted perhaps only you.

For me it feels better to stick with the word favorite. My list of family fiction that engaged and moved me in 2014 includes novels I believe have the power to change you in 2015—and beyond. (More below on the amazing family fiction I read in 2014 that pubbed in previous years.)

Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston—This novel takes wishful thinking about family reunification after abduction and turns it on its head. In the aftermath of Justin Campbell’s disappearance, the boy’s family is justifiably shattered. But when he returns to them four years later, mother, father, brother, grandfather—and even Justin—should be able to resume life as they once knew it, right? Not so in this emotional novel about a fractured family and how hard it is for them to hold on to each other once again. This literary page-turner gripped me from chapter one, and will stay with me for a long time to come.

Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis—I wrote about this lovely novel in an earlier Lit Chat post about father/daughter novels. Booklist liked it too, giving it a starred review: “…this beautifully wrought novel is a sometimes wrenching but ultimately uplifting story of murder and betrayal in the face of faith, family in its truest sense, and—most of all—love.” I enjoyed everything about this story set in Provincetown Massachusetts, taking place over three decades. I found the characters fully drawn and their struggles both personal and universal.

Ghost Horse by Thomas H. McNeely—This award-winning novel does an amazing job of exploring what family means in the context of what’s happening in society. In this case, set amidst the social tensions of 1970’s Houston, Ghost Horse tells the story of eleven-year-old Buddy Turner’s shifting alliances within his fragmented family and with two other boys–one Anglo, one Latino–in their quest to make a Super-8 animated movie. As the novel unfolds, readers learn the secrets Buddy’s parents are keeping from him and the compelling narrative urges readers to consider the impact of putting a child in the middle of adult issues and problems.

The Blessings by Elise Juska—A novel in stories about the interior world of a close-knit Irish-Catholic family and the rituals that bind them. Told through the eyes of mothers and fathers, uncles and cousins, readers share the joys and sorrows of characters who leap off the page. Juska depicts family life in honest and raw ways. So much so that by the novel’s end, I longed to be part of the family, joining into the Blessings’ celebrations and grieving alongside them at the loss of beloved relatives. This gem of a family novel is not to be missed.

Family fiction I loved—though not published in 2014

Girls I Know by Douglas Trevor—Wonderful writing, relatable characters and rich in theme and premise, this novel is a pitch perfect read about the families we have and the families we make.

Veronica’s Nap by Sharon Bially—A charming, beautifully written examination of one woman’s identity crisis after moving to Provence and having twins. Interesting portrait of the sometimes wide chasm between motherhood and artistic pursuits.

The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison—Better than Gone Girl, this novel takes a look inside a very dark and troubled marriage.

The Last Goodnight by Emily Listfield—Compelling mystery about a woman leading a double life and the impact of her lies on her present husband and baby.

LYNNE GRIFFIN is the author of the novels Life Without Summer (St. Martin’s Press, 2009) and Sea Escape (Simon & Schuster, 2010). Her short stories and essays have appeared in Parenting Magazine, The Drum Literary Magazine, Brain, Child, The Writer, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, Huffington Post, and more. Lynne teaches family studies at the graduate level at Wheelock College, and fiction at Grub Street Writers. In partnership with Grub Street, she has created the strategic writer program called Launch Lab, for soon-to-be-published authors. Connect with Lynne on twitter @Lynne_Griffin or at her website, LynneGriffin.com.

Characters With Special Needs Make for Exceptional Stories

In May I had the honor of speaking at the American Montessori Conference in Dallas alongside the remarkable Temple Grandin, author of many nonfiction books, including The Autistic Brain. She mesmerized the audience, sharing anecdotes about her childhood and how her insightful mother nurtured her at a time when little was known about autism. Her real life stories stole my heart, and got me thinking about the fictional ones I’ve been impacted by over the years.

I’ll admit I was late to the game reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. I tend to shy away from phenoms du jour, but my daughter kept putting the tome on my bedside table until I had no choice but to acquiesce. Ten pages in and I was as hooked as the rest of the world with this gorgeous novel loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, about a mute boy, his dogs, and his search for the truth about his father’s murder. The Christian Science Monitor said of the novel, “Edgar might be silent, but his story will echo with readers for a long time.” I couldn’t agree more.

 Shortly after reading Edgar, I became equally enchanted with Rachel Simon’s, The Story of Beautiful Girl. Hard as it is to fathom, as recently as the nineteen sixties, children born with disabilities such as deafness and Down Syndrome were institutionalized, forever separated from family. Simon (also the author of the acclaimed memoir, Riding the Bus with My Sister) believes like I do in the power of fiction to teachI spoke with Rachel about what it’s like to write from the heart about the plight of the most vulnerable among us (those put away as they were once referred to), who have been cast out of society, forced to make sense of seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to find love. “She felt so lovely in his hands. She felt so loved in his eyes.”

Another deeply moving story is the powerful Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern. This hypnotic thriller centers on the disappearance of two children into the woods behind their school. Hours later a young girl has been found murdered and the only witness is a child who cannot tell what he saw. The child is autistic, and so begins his mother’s quest to give voice to the tragedy her child endured, and to find peace for the girl’sparents who desperately need to know what happened to their daughter.

All of these novels are as well-plotted as they are rich in authentic character details. Each hero goes beyond the stereotypical or sensational, working his or her way into our hearts because the challenges they face are both uniquely personal and universal. Readers will love them, not because of their special needs, but because they think and feel, as all of us do, about loving and being loved, about what it means to be part of a family. Readers will turn pages all the faster when these memorable characters are in jeopardy, and they’ll mourn each book’s closing despite their hero’s triumphs. All of these selections are must-reads because the stories are so compelling and the writing so beautiful.

Other Notable Selections:

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes

Lark and Termite, Jayne Anne Phillips

Icy Sparks, Hyman Rubio

Young Adult

Wonder, R. J. Palacio

Out of My Mind, Sharon M. Draper

What stories/novels have you read featuring a special needs character that made a difference in your life?

Lynne Griffin is a nationally recognized expert on relationships and family life. She is the author of the novels, Sea Escape (Simon & Schuster, 2010) and Life Without Summer (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), and the nonfiction guide Negotiation Generation: Take Back Your Parental Authority Without Punishment (Penguin, 2007). Lynne teaches family studies and leadership at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Wheelock College in Boston. She recently completed a second year as visiting scholar of education in Singapore. Lynne teaches fiction writing at Grub Street Writers in Boston, and co-created an innovative, intensive program for soon-to-be-published writers called Launch Lab.

Follow Lynne: https://twitter.com/Lynne_Griffin orhttps://www.facebook.com/LynneGriffin





Father-Daughter Novels

My father walks me down the aisle. He does not look ahead to the altar, but rather stares adoringly at me. He whispers, “You will always be my girl.”

Daddy is the first to arrive at the hospital after the birth of my daughter. He holds the tiny child so close and for so long that when others visit they claim he is keeping her for himself.

Three years later, he is first to arrive after the birth of my son. This time he bears gifts. An impossibly small Red Sox jersey and baseball cap. There are promises of evening games at Fenway when my boy is old enough, and afternoons of playing catch in Grandpa’s backyard.

All of these images are fantasy, little fictions I let my mind rest on when I miss him. My father died when I was fifteen, which means a treasure trove of experiences have never been mine, and never will be. This may explain why I’m drawn to novels about fathers and daughters. Simple stories of love and encouragement and conflict-rich stories fraught with the misunderstandings and missed opportunities that are germane to family life.

Who hasn’t idolized the confident and kind, Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee? As the moral hero of Scout’s coming of age story, this father-daughter relationship is iconic, and the novel has clearly stood the test of time.

Well-suited to this category is Richard Russo’s Empire Falls. Miles Roby is a down-on-his-luck dad living in the Maine town he grew up in, contending with his divorce, and trying to raise his beloved daughter Tick. From the town’s priest, to the high school principal, to the waitresses at the Empire Grill, the characters that fill these pages are beyond memorable, and the plot twists and turns reminiscent of another of my favorite town-centric stories, Peyton Place by Grace Metalious.

A new novel that explores this special bond is The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis. Motherless Hallie Costa has an enviable relationship with her father Nick. In fact, this loving dynamic between father and daughter is juxtaposed against an ill-fated love affair set on the coast of Massachusetts, in the colorful Portuguese neighborhoods of Provincetown. Spanning thirty years, this page-turner explores what it means to be family and what it means to have faith.

Since compelling fiction rests on high degrees of tension–and not all relationship stories are cherished ones–I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the novels that showcase a more tortured view of the father-daughter dynamic.

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley is such a story. This extraordinary novel, set on a farm in Iowa is loosely based on Shakespeare’s King Lear and features three adult daughters coming to terms with a secret history of domestic abuse, generational gender roles, and the powerful forces of nature. Each time I reread this story, I find more subtle layers to reflect on, and always, writing that is both vivid and indelible.

Schroder by Amity Gaige first came to my attention via One Story, a literary magazine that published what would become an excerpt of this stunning novel that recounts the week a father spends on the run with his daughter after kidnapping her during a parental visit. Jennifer Egan says of the novel, “Amity Gaige explores the rich, murky realm where parental devotion edges into mania, and logically crabwalks into crime.”

Next up father-daughter novels on my to-be-read shelf include: This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash and Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat.

Are there father-daughter stories that have shaped or entertained you? Are you looking forward to reading books on this topic this summer? I’d love for you to add to this list in the comments.

Happy reading!

Lynne Griffin is an author, speaker and contributing editor to LitChat. Read her full bio here. Follow her on twitter @Lynne_Griffin or visit her website, LynneGriffin.com.

Editor’s Note: Patry Francis will guest host #LitChat on July 2, 2014 at 4 p.m. E.D.T.

Novels about Mental Health & Illness

We read fiction to learn about things we do not understand. We read it to imagine lives unlike our own, or to commiserate with lives exactly like the ones that we are living. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), more than 4 percent of all adults endure mental illnesses classified as serious. The number burgeons when you add in episodic mental illness, and diagnostic mental health issues in children and teens. I don’t know one person—family, friend, or colleague—who doesn’t love someone who suffers with one or more of the most prevalent of these: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or psychosis.

For when we share more openly, we judge less harshly.

Scary numbers to be sure. And while there is certainly a place for the clinical literature in our reading piles, and myriad memoirs to lend readers’ insight, I believe reading novels on this theme and topic provides a unique opportunity to get inside the experience—and how it impacts family—without being prescriptive.

Take the novel Halfway House by Katharine Noel, the story of teenager Angie Voorster’s psychotic break and subsequent roller coaster ride through treatment. Told through the points-of-view of each family member—mother, father, brother, and Angie, herself—it chronicles the crushing impact mental illness has on a family. Witnessing characters make poor life choices amid the backdrop of Angie’s struggles suspends judgment. It begs the questions, “What might you do if you walked in this mother’s shoes?” “What kind of brother would you be?”

Wally Lamb explores how schizophrenia both connects and divides a twin relationship in his masterpiece I Know This Much is True. “I remember the odd sensation of living in the middle of that experience and feeling, simultaneously, like it was something happening at telescopic distance. Like something I was looking at through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars.”

It’s impossible to read this novel without walking away with a deeper understanding of how our sibling relationships shape us. We are forced to ask, “To what degree do our familial ties obligate us to care for each other?”

This roundup would be incomplete if I didn’t include one of my favorite novels about family, and  how grief can lead to profound depression. Ordinary People by Judith Guest, first published in 1976, is a story I’ve read countless times, and it opens with Conrad Jarrett, just released from a psychiatric hospital, deemed stable after an attempt to take his life. As this teen boy struggles to insinuate himself back into day-to-day dealings with friends, trying to be enough for his mother who’s still immobilized after the death of her other son—Conrad’s brother, Buck—readers can’t help but route for him to reclaim his life and heal. To rid himself of the guilt that led him to a place of deep self-loathing. This novel, which has stood the test of time, highlights the power of good mental health care and counseling.

No doubt these are heavy themes to read about. Yet it’s to the most emotional places we dare to travel that true compassion can be found. I invite you to add to my list of novels about mental health and illness those that have impacted you. For when we share more openly, we judge less harshly.

Additional selections:

Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Turn of Mind by Alice Laplante

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Lowboy by John Wray

Lynne Griffin is a contributing editor of LitChat. Read her complete bio here.

Changing The Way You Think About Women’s Fiction

It’s a reality that male writers are often taken more seriously than women writers. All anyone needs to do to become disheartened is read the Vida numbers. Trust me, I wanted to laugh with abandon when The Washington Post’s Ron Charles talked about “women gossiping about how their little books are treated by media,” except that too much of his totally hip book review was spot on.  Still I’m comforted to know that attitudes about equality among men and women do change–and have–through respectful discourse. To that end, I do my part to make a difference, working to empower our girls to use their voices and, like many educators, I use new research to focus my attention on how we socialize our boys. As a novelist, I’ve parlayed my experience as a family therapist into writing about the emotional and sometimes dark side of relationships in an effort to connect men and women any way I can. Recent studies confirm what every novelist knows: “The novel is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life.”

Though I don’t bristle at the term “women’s fiction” I do see it as narrow and exclusive. In a culture where we’re forever dishing about wanting a sensitive partner, do we really want men to think (or anyone to reinforce) that what women read is for their eyes only?

In an op ed reflecting on the fifty years since Betty Friedan’s seminal work on feminism, Stephanie Coontz, a noted historian and teacher of family studies, claims that the progress toward gender equity no longer lies in changing personal attitudes. Tell that to David Gilmour, who recently set social media on fire with his statements about why he doesn’t teach fiction written by women. No doubt we will always need to force attitudinal change with loud and clear voices, yet we must break down structural barriers to equity too. Readers and writers can play a role by merely turning the label women’s fiction on its head.

Nearly a year ago, Meg Wolitzer wrote an essay that got me thinking about how the term excludes. Nine times out of ten, the first question a reader asks when he or she learns I’m a novelist is, “What’s the book about?” Never once since I began writing fiction have I been asked about genre by anyone outside of publishing. If you’re aligned with Wolitzer’s thinking, that the women’s fiction label can relegate novels to second class status, why not consider a genre makeover?

I propose that like science fiction (fiction about science) and mystery fiction (fiction about a mystery) that we use the term fiction about family. #FamFic if you’re into hashtags. Take a look at the copyright page of any of your favorite family dramas and you’ll find the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data already does this. The first category listed in Justin Torres’s We The Animals is family. For Wally Lamb’sThe Hour I First Believed, Pam Houston’s Contents May Have Shifted, and Steve Yarborough’s The End of California you’ll see family fiction’s synonym, domestic fiction. And if you’re one to frequent Amazon, you’ll find family life fiction is a prominent label categorizing novels online.

So for readers who’ve got to have their labels–who are opposed to fiction just being fiction– fiction about family ticks all the boxes. Without playing the sexism card, it gives women the heads up a book is for them. And it tells men, this one’s for you too. Research shows that when anyone reads fiction, neurologically speaking, our emotional state is positively impacted. Reading trains our brains to work more efficiently. And better brains, lead to stronger hearts, and thus more compassionate action.

Women shouldn’t be the only ones reading about families. Without a doubt there are lots of good reasons for men to read fiction. In the thirty years I’ve counseled families, I’ve seen firsthand how family life education of any kind leads to positive attitudes toward motherhood and fatherhood, changing the way we think about children.

We all want to help women and men become better women and men. If we were to embrace a gender-neutral genre called fiction about family, then writers included in this category would be Meg Wolitzer and Jonathan Franzen, Chris Bojahlian and Jody Picoult, Joshua Henkin and Elizabeth Strout. Wally Lamb, Lionel Shriver, and the list goes on and on.

If you believe like I do that words matter and that novels have the power to influence attitudes about everything from the politics of childcare to understanding addiction, then join me once per month at LitChat.com for conversations about good books. Let’s use our voices to change the way we think about men and women and fiction about family. (#FamFic if you’re into hashtags)