Every family has its secrets — sometimes small ones, like which sibling broke the living room lamp, and sometimes ones that conceal entire years of history. The discovery of these hidden truths can change not only a person’s perception of the past, but their very sense of self.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, books about family secrets regularly perform well with BookBub readers. Below, we examine three of the factors that make these stories so compelling.
Books about Identity
Everyone struggles with their identity: who they are, where they came from, and what type of person they want to be.
In many of these books, a person must search for their sense of self after discovering a shocking fact about themselves or their family. You’re supposed to know family better than you know anyone else, and when that turns out to be untrue, identity falls on uneasy ground.
This is a popular plot point in several BookBub books: In Coming to Rosemont, a woman discovers her husband led a double life, while in Thought I Knew You, a husband disappears only to leave his wife scrambling to decipher his secrets. A Family Affair follows a woman who learns the shocking truth that her father had a second family she never knew about. And the list goes on.
Books about Generations
Our survey data shows that the majority of BookBub subscribers are married with children out of the house — in other words, they’re readers used to dealing with generations both older and younger than themselves. And many of these books focus on long-held secrets that span decades. Sometimes they’re revealed in person, while in other cases they’re delivered by an old artifact, like a journal. Whatever the situation, the old generation is linked to the new — a connection that stands the test of time.
We’ve seen these generational threads in some of our bestselling books, like The Girl Who Came Home, where a woman who sailed on the Titanic shares a secret with her great-granddaughter. In The Hidden Child, the protagonist discovers a Nazi medal among her late mother’s possessions, and in The Winter Lodge, a woman finds a treasure that once belonged to her grandfather.
Not only do these stories span generations, but they also touch on memorable moments in the past, and likely hit home with BookBub readers who have family members that have experienced similar situations.
Books about Family and Going Home
Stories of familial connections have always struck a strong chord with BookBub’s audience, whether in the kinship between cousins or in a parent-child relationship. When wound together and complicated by secrets, these links often become even more difficult to navigate, lending extra intensity to the narrative. Many times the rapport between characters is already developed, and the outing of a new secret forces this relationship to be reexamined.
BookBub readers have responded particularly well to these themes of connection. Some notable examples include The Wishing Thread, where three sisters with secrets of their own inherit a magical yarn shop, and Maine, in which three generations of family gather at a summer home while being forced to face their pasts.
Not all secrets are the same, either in these books or in the many others that share this theme. But in all cases, the stories pull people in: Readers want to discover the truth and how it’s shared, what its fallout is, and how people move on from there. After all, BookBub readers consistently show a strong affinity to mysteries, and what’s a more intriguing enigma than the secrets of your own family?
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