But if you think your family is bad, you may find that the families in these books are a lot more troubled than yours...
The Haters by Jesse Andrews
A road trip adventure about a trio of jazz-camp escapees who, against every realistic expectation, become a band.
What makes them dysfunctional? This story focuses less on the characters' families, but each kid comes from a family that's slightly outside of what could be considered "normal."
Heist Society by Ally Carter
A group of teenagers uses their combined talents to re-steal several priceless paintings and save fifteen-year-old Kat Bishop's father, himself an international art thief, from a vengeful collector.
What makes them dysfunctional? Kat is born into a crime family, the members of which are always pulling cons and on the lam. Not exactly normal everyday teen stuff.
Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas
The youngest of three siblings, fourteen-year-old Anke feels both relieved and neglected that her father abuses her brother and sister but ignores her, but when she catches him with one of her friends, she finally becomes angry enough to take action.
What makes them dysfunctional? Anke's family is very abusive, but Anke has mixed feelings about her father's abuse of her siblings but not her. It's an interesting (and scary) dynamic.
Invisible Girl by Mariel Hemingway
What is it like to be a teen with depressed addicts for parents, a mentally ill sister, and a grandfather who killed himself? In this moving, compelling diary, Mariel Hemingway writes as her teen self to share her pain, heartache, and coping strategies with young readers.
What makes them dysfunctional? Mariel Hemingway's whole life was filled with pain, which she relates in this memoir about her family's addictions and illnesses.
Reality Boy by A.S. King
An emotionally damaged seventeen-year-old boy in Pennsylvania who was once an infamous reality television show star, meets a girl from another dysfunctional family, and she helps him out of his angry shell.
What makes them dysfunctional? The main character, once famous for reality show stardom, now must deal with the reality of his actual life which includes a sociopathic sister and co-dependent mother.
Rotters by Daniel Kraus
Everything changes when Joey's mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent from Chicago to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey's father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey's life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating.
What makes them dysfunctional? Joey's father has some very odd nighttime hobbies, which may or may not include digging up dead bodies... Not the most ideal situation to be raised in.
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Seventeen-year-old Jazz learned all about being a serial killer from his notorious "Dear Old Dad," but believes he has a conscience that will help fight his own urges and right some of his father's wrongs, so he secretly helps the police apprehend the town's newest murderer, "The Impressionist."
What makes them unusual? Jazz's dad is a SERIAL KILLER. Do I really need to elaborate any more than that?
Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
When her unstable mother dies unexpectedly, sixteen-year-old Lucy must take control and find a way to keep the long-held secret of her mother's compulsive hoarding from being revealed to friends, neighbors, and especially the media.
What makes them dysfunctional? Lucy has always been ashamed of her mother's hoarding, and now that her mother is gone she has to find a way to confront her death and continue to keep it a secret.
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
A sixteen-year-old boy wrestling with depression and anxiety tries to cope by writing poems, reciting Walt Whitman, hugging trees, and figuring out why his sister has been kicked out of the house.
What makes them dysfunctional? James (our main character) has an abusive father who kicked his sister out for some reason unknown to him. But he keeps on keeping on, much to his credit.
Ultimatum by K.M. Walton
When their mother dies, two very different brothers become even more distant, but when their father's alcoholism sends him into liver failure, the two boys must come face-to-face with their demons--and each other--if they are going to survive an uncertain future.
What makes them dysfunctional? These boys have struggled all their lives with their alcoholic father and relationship with each other. Probably not a lot of warm fuzzies coming from the household.
And Then There Were Four by Nancy Werlin
When five high school students are brought together under mysterious circumstances, they begin to piece together a theory that their parents are working together to kill them all.
What makes them dysfunctional? Reread that last sentence. Do I really need to spell out why these families are not terribly stable?