Five fantastic books about separated families

Published on: 23 February 2023

If your family has separated or is in the process of separating, these brilliant books chosen by Two Places To Call Home author Phil Earle could help children understand and process the change.

Two Places To Call Home isn’t a book I ever thought I’d write. When my wife and I separated it happened quickly and suddenly, and amongst the maelstrom of emotions that it raised, I was left with the scariest of propositions: how would my children cope with the uncertainty of life under two separate roofs?

What I learnt quickly was that honesty, patience and trust were key, that with these three qualities in place, my children would amaze me. Their resilience and bravery were phenomenal, their ability to adapt a revelation.

It did strike me though, that there were so few picture books on the subject, a surprise given that 50% of marriages now end in separation or divorce. It felt like a real positive then to try and share my experiences, as well as celebrating the spirit of my brilliant kids.

So here, if it’s helpful, are a few cracking books where separated families appear. I hope you enjoy them.

Moon Pie by Simon Mason

A magnificent, versatile writer, telling the tender, moving story of Martha, trying to hold together her disintegrating family in the most trying of circumstances. Tissues at the ready, this was rightly shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Book Prize.

Vi Spy (Licence to Chill/Never Say Whatever Again/The Girl with the Golden Gran) by Maz Evans

Maz is one of the funniest writers we have. She can extract belly laughs from the tensest of situations. It doesn’t matter that Vi’s parents have separated, our hero is destined to become one of the bravest and youngest spies our nation has ever seen. Maz plays with family dynamics brilliantly.

The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt

A great book, written by the greatest. Jacky has tackled the biggest issues in the most sensitive way throughout her career and this is no exception, which not only looks at living in two houses, but the added complication of new, extended families as well. Legendary.

Jaz Santos vs the World by Priscilla Mante

Such a brilliant book for so many reasons. It would be enough that it covers my favourite thing in the world (footie), but it is so much more than that. It’s about equality, and gender, whilst tackling the taboo subject of mothers that leave the family unit. Laughs and tension, this book has them both in spades.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, illustrated by David Tazzyman

I cannot begin to tell you how much I Iove this book. Joey has ADHD: he describes it as having a swarm of bees buzzing in his head. But as well as having this to contend with, he has the most dysfunctional of families that continually throw hazards and obstacles into his path. This book, and its sequels have such heart and humour, and it’s impossible not to root for Joey – he’s one of literature’s greatest underdogs.

Two Places To Call Home is out now.

Topics: Family, Features

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