Picks and Pans Review: More Dysfunctional Families

updated 11/07/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/07/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

Gearing up for the holidays? Like Helget's memoir, these superbly told tales of complicated clans—each, of course, unhappy in its own way—will make you give thanks for your own.

JESUS LAND by Julia Scheeres
Her fundamentalist parents neglected her and abused her two adopted black brothers, then shipped them all off to reform school. Judging from this exquisitely wrought memoir, Scheeres emerged with sensibilities intact and learned that love can flourish even in the harshest climates.

FIVE FAMILIES by Selwyn Raab
Subtitled The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires, former New York Times reporter Raab's riveting history highlights how easily Cosa Nostra rat each other out at the flash of a badge. So much for blood brotherhood.

MOTHER'S MILK by Edward St. Aubyn
Postpartum depression, assisted suicide, adultery alcoholism-it's all here in St. Aubyn's keenly observed, perversely funny novel about an illustrious cosmopolitan family and the mercurial matriarch who rules them all.

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