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Dr. FYA Helps A Sister Out

Dr. FYA tackles adoption, family estrangement, and conservative religious upbringing for a reader reaching out to her little sister.

Dr. FYA Helps A Sister Out

Dear Dr. FYA,

I am looking for a birthday present for my younger sister. We have a complicated relationship: she is turning 19, 6 years younger than I am, but she seems much younger than her age. Last year she dropped out of high school, quit her job, moved out of my parents' house and moved in with her boyfriend and his grandparents. She was adopted from another country when she was 5 and struggles with feeling like she belongs. For about five months now she has had no contact with anyone in my family and doesn't respond to any of us when we email, call, text, or Facebook message her. We grew up in a conservative Christian home and I'd love to send her a book or two that might speak to her as well as acknowledge that there are ways of living outside of how we were raised: something a little more risque than what we were allowed to read at home, but still thoughtful. About the only thing we have in common is our love of reading. I thought I knew a lot of books, but I just can't think of the perfect book. Please help!

Thank you so much,

First, I'm so sorry you and your sister are going through this. I hope you're able to reach your sister in some way, and it's great you want to reach out to her. I've put together a list that touches on identity, religious questions, and even adoption, although I drew a blank when it came to one book that takes on all three. YA authors, here's your chance!

For some generally gritty, realistic books about diversity and how hard it is to be different trying to fit in, check out the list we did a while back for an SAT prep request -- especially Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez. Sadly, all the brilliant suggestions in the comments were lost in the move, but I used my super secret security clearance to dig them up and bring you the best of them, and I'm sure there will be billions more great ideas from all the lovely readers.

Growing Up Religious Books

Blankets by Craig Thompson
Once was Lost by Sara Zarr
Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John

Identity/Adoption/Breaking Up With Family Books

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Wait for Me by An Na
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
The World in Half by Cristina Henriquez

Sometimes Life Sucks Books

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Best wishes with your sister! Readers, what do you have for K.?