Trope Tuesday: Found Family

by Meg Rady

We’ve all heard the old adage, “blood is thicker than water.” Today, the cliché implies that familial bonds are stronger than any other relationship. Whether you think it’s true or not, the common ‘found family’ literary trope gives this old saying a run for its money.

The found family trope is a plot device that explores the bond of unrelated friends coming together to form their own family. While the group is often brought together through similar circumstances or experiences—and not literally chosen—this trope explores the growth of their relationship with each other. You follow their characters as they meet, form a bond, and come to rely on each other to find comfort and love, much like a second family.

Found family is one of my favorite tropes, as someone who finds blood is, in fact, not thicker than water in my own life, I love seeing this dynamic explored in literature. As with any trope or motif, if it’s written well, it can become the most compelling aspect of the book. However, for it to fully work, every character within the family has to be fully fleshed out, as nuanced complex beings, and this is not easy. I’m always on the lookout for a good found family book, but I’ve read a fair amount over the years, so here are some recommendations for books with a great found family.

1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows follows six characters, all from different backgrounds and walks of life, who come together to pull off the heist of a lifetime. Full of magic, gangs, and great romance, this two-book series pulls off a found family perfectly. All the characters are strong in their own right with complex histories, and by the end of the series, they can’t imagine their lives without each other. Additionally, the cast is diverse with race, ability and sexuality without feeling like the author is checking off diversity boxes, which is hard to find in fantasy books these days. This heist-oriented novel is adorable, heartwarming, and just a little heartbreaking.  

2. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

This dystopian YA series follows Ruby who wakes up on her tenth birthday,  but unbeknownst to her something about her has changed. Fearful of this change, her parents call the police and she gets sent to a “rehabilitation camp.” She’s survived the mysterious illness that killed most of the kids in America, but she’s emerged with something much worse.Now, at 16 Ruby has been classified as highly dangerous, and barely escapes the camp with her life as she seeks out the last safe haven for kids like her. Ruby only escapes thanks to another group of kids also on the run, and together they an amazing friendship, all while dismantling the corrupt government. 

3. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Linus Baker case worker with the Department in Charge of Magical Youth who does everything by the book. Everything changes when he’s tasked with checking an orphanage housing six magical kids who could bring about the end of the world. Slowly, Linus starts to open his heart as he falls for the six kids. The story is so wholesome, and Linus soon finds that his visit is more than work, he’s found his family. 

These are just some of the books I read that have great found families. If any of these pique your interest, I hope you’ll give them a read! 

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