Real Lives: Gritty Memoirs (Adult)

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Article in Category:Adult Nonfiction and Category:Biography.

Stories of real people dealing with everything that life can throw at them.

You may also enjoy Outstanding Memoirs and Narrative nonfiction

  • 92 Abbott, Alysia
Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott
Raised by her bisexual, widowed father in 1970s and 80s San Francisco, Abbott bears witness to the devastation AIDS brought to her community.
  • 92 Auslander, Shalom
Foreskin's Lament by Shalom Auslander
After growing up in and being exiled from a strict, isolated Orthodox community, Auslander deals with his anger towards God and his dysfunctional family through dry humor.
  • 92 Burroughs, Augusten
Running with Scissors
  • 92 Burroughs, Augusten
A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father
  • 362.1968588 Robison, John Elder
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's
Brothers Burroughs and Robison offer differing accounts of their chaotic childhoods in these three memoirs. Burroughs writes about his addictions and Robison writes about life with Asperger’s.
  • 92 Carroll, Linda
Her Mother's Daughter
The daughter of author Paula Fox examines her fraught relationship with her adoptive parents, her search for her biological mother and difficulties with her own troubled daughter, Courtney Love.
  • 92 Cumming, Alan

Not My Father's Son

While trying to resolve the disappearance of his maternal grandfather, the actor is faced with shocking information about his abusive father.
  • 92 Lagnado, Lucette
The Man in the White Sharksin Suit
Raised elegantly in Cairo by her dapper father, Lagnado’s life is upended when political turmoil in Egypt forces the family into poverty in France and America.
  • 92 Grealy, Lucy
Autobiography of a Face
  • 92 Patchett, Ann
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship
Grealy, whose face was disfigured by childhood cancer, formed an intimate friendship with Patchett. Taken together, the two memoirs record their devotion and despair.
  • 92 Russo, Richard
The Pulitzer Prize-winning chronicler of Upstate New York recalls growing up there in the 1950s with a charming alcoholic father and a very involved mother.
  • 92 Scheeres, Julia
Jesus Land
Scheeres tries to protect her adopted African American brother from racism inside and outside of the family. The two draw closer together while trying to survive in a reform school “boot camp” in the Dominican Republic.
  • 92 Shteyngart, Gary
Little Failure
Shteyngart wryly recalls his confusing childhood as a young immigrant from Soviet Russia to America and his parents’ influence, which included nicknaming him “Little Failure.”
  • 92 Varner, Jay
Nothing Left to Burn
Local author Varner explores his troubled relationship with his firefighting father and serial arsonist grandfather.
  • 92 Vonnegut, Mark
Just Like Someone without Mental Illness, Only More So
Mark, brother of Kurt Vonnegut, picks up where his acclaimed memoir Eden Express left off, detailing his struggles with mental illness and his success as a pediatrician.
  • 92 Winterson, Jeanette
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
Raised in a brutal, unhappy home by religiously conservative parents, the award-winning author is compelled as an adult to search for her biological mother in a quest for identity, love and home.
  • 362.19683 Cahalan, Susannah
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
Cahalan’s suddenly bizarre behavior and scary symptoms threaten her life until an unlikely last-minute diagnosis offers her hope of recovery.
  • 362.293 Carr, David
The Night of the Gun
The late New York Times reporter fact-checks the stories he’s told himself about his crack addiction and recovery by interviewing friends, family and colleagues with surprising results.
  • 362.299 Sheff, David
Beautiful Boy
  • 362.299 Sheff, Nic
Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines
  • 362.299 Sheff, Nic
We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction
These three interconnected memoirs relate Nic’s addictions from childhood through adulthood and his father David’s reactions.
  • 362.74 Gwartney, Debra
Live Through This
Gwartney’s deeply bonded older daughters run away after their parents’ traumatic divorce and the whole family is caught up in the effort to reunite with them.
  • 363.209 Busby, Cylin and John
The Year We Disappeared
The whole family is forced into hiding when an assassination attempt is made on father John, a police officer in a small town with dark secrets.
  • 641.509 Hamilton, Gabrielle
Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
Noted New York chef Hamilton has always found meaning in food, whether in her boisterous childhood home, while traveling as a young adult or as a means to connect to her husband and his family.
  • GN 92 Chast, Roz
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
New Yorker cartoonist Chast illustrates the bittersweet difficulties of dealing with her estranged parents at the end of their lives with grace and good humor.
  • GN 92 Bechdel, Alison
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Bechdel’s father ran a funeral home and taught high school English but was also gay, a secret revealed weeks before his death. Bechdel infuses her graphic novel with dark humor, literary allusions and sympathy.