Whenever a memoirist gives a reading, someone in the audience is sure to ask, “How did your family react?” Revisiting our pasts and exploring our experiences, we often reveal more of our relatives than they might prefer. This volume navigates the emotional and literary minefields that any writer of family stories or secrets must navigate when depicting private lives for public consumption.

Essays by twenty-five distinguished memoirists explore the fraught territory of family history, examining ethical dilemmas and offering practical strategies for this tricky and necessary subject. A sustained and lively lesson in the craft of memoir, Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family (University of Nebraska, 2013) serves as a guide for writers who want to respect family boundaries while still telling their own versions of the truth. It has been adopted for college creative writing courses on the personal essay and memoir.


"A chorus of noteworthy memoirists reflects on the ethical consequences of airing dirty laundry.... A well-balanced panoply of family-centric musings from authors conflicted between responsibility and retribution."

~ Kirkus Reviews

"This collection of essays...shares the ruminations of 25 memoirists...on the troubles, strategies, and results of writing about family, and how to deal with the ensuing consequences for family relationships.... [F]or any writer of memoirs, it's a must-read."

~ Publishers Weekly


Faith Adiele
Paul Austin
Alison Bechdel
Ruth Behar
Jill Christman
Judith Ortiz Cofer
Allison Hedge Coke
Rigoberto González
Ariel Gore
Stephanie Elizondo Griest
Robin Hemley
Richard Hoffman
Susan Ito
Aaron Raz Link
Paul Lisicky
Lorraine M. López
Karen Salyer McElmurray
Dinty W. Moore
Bich Minh Nguyen
Susan Olding
Ralph Savarese
Mimi Schwartz
Sandra Scofield
Heather Sellers
Sue William Silverman