Toxic Relationships in Contemporary Fiction

Narcissism and Scapegoating, Seek and Learn

Although not all of the following titles specifically reference narcissistic personality disorder, they all feature difficult relationships, manipulative dynamics, and unhealthy patterns which may help you recognize the behaviors and the impact of a toxic relationship in your own life.

Emma in the Night: A Novel by Wendy Walker
Three years earlier, teenage sisters Emma and Cassie disappeared. When Cassie returns home without Emma, Dr. Abby Winter, the detective working on the case, realizes the girls’ mother exhibits extreme narcissistic behaviors. As she investigates Cassie’s version of the events, Abby pieces together the disturbing truth.

The Goddesses by Swan Huntley
Nancy hopes that a move to Kona, Hawaii will be a fresh start for her family. But immediately she meets Ana, an enigmatic yoga teacher. Soon, the two women become inseparable. Nancy is drawn to Ana’s free-spirited lifestyle and adventurous ways. As Nancy begins to disregard her responsibilities to spend time with her new friend, she finds herself caught up in Ana’s manipulative web.

White Oleander by Janet Finch
After Astrid’s mother, Ingrid, is sentenced to prison for killing a man, Astrid bounces through foster homes in Los Angeles, encountering countless hardships as she attempts to carve out a life for herself. Although she tries to move on, the ties she has with her enigmatic, manipulative mother remain impossible to sever.

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan Leach
Two years ago, Ava fled to Paris in an attempt to escape her chaotic upbringing. When she learns that her reckless twin Zelda was killed in a house fire, Ava returns to her family’s failing vineyard in upstate New York. While caring for her critical, alcoholic mother who is suffering from dementia, Ava begins to receive clues and riddles from Zelda and begins to doubt that her sister is truly dead.

Photo by Clever Visuals on Unsplash

About the author 

Jillian Bietz

Jillian Bietz is a writer and editor who enjoys doing in-depth research and exploring a wide-range of topics including all facets of mental health and wellness. She is the editor for My Voice Can Speak.

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