Lost and Found–Exploring the Found Family

Aug 16, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Brooke Beyfuss

The concept of “found family” has been a common trope in literature for decades. From Oliver Twist to The Outsiders to The House in the Cerulean Sea, found family novels nurture characters who have been cut off, cast out, or set adrift. The fact that it is still a popular theme proves that the topic resonates with readers, and I believe that the number of people who can relate to the concept is growing every day.

In the not-so-distant past, the word family brought to mind only one image: a mother, a father, and 2.5 children. Today, family is a fluid and elastic concept that does not require blood to be authentic. In recent years, mental health professionals have spread the word on how important it is to purge toxic relationships, blood or not, and find support from those who truly love you. Books that feature found families allow readers to explore a character’s journey to find those connections. They are most often character-driven narratives, offering readers the ability to relate and connect with the characters on a deeper level. Concepts such as familial love and romantic love are both familiar and understood, but novels featuring found families aim to show that platonic love can be even stronger.

In my new novel, Before You Found Me, 22-year-old Rowan and 11-old Gabriel—two deeply traumatized people with extremely violent pasts—forge a path to healing by adopting familial roles in an unconventional way. Despite her age, Rowan embraces Gabriel as her own child, and Gabriel is able to work through years of abuse by accepting Rowan’s love and support. The reverse is true as well—with Gabriel to care for, Rowan’s own painful past is put into new perspective as she fights to break the cycle and provide Gabriel with a fulfilling life.

Sounds simple, right? On paper these look like easy goals to reach: find your people because love heals all wounds. But it’s never that cut and dry. In writing this novel, I intended to show that journey to healing and all the pain that comes with it. The beauty of the found family is that these are people who choose to harbor and love you, not because of your past, but despite it. And in found families, there is always room for growth. For Rowan and Gabriel, their circle grows throughout the novel, until brand-new families are born, creating a family tree strong enough to hold everyone.

Found family is not only about receiving love—it’s about accepting it. There is no familial obligation, which is oftentimes a good thing. Blood may masquerade as love because you’re supposed to love your family, when in truth, many people don’t. They say blood is thicker than water, but some people don’t feel love where they expect to receive it, leaving them lost, confused, and dying of thirst.

Creating my own found family was a deeply cathartic process, and developing Rowan and Gabriel was one of my greatest honors. Found families are complex, messy, and not always easy to explain, but they are also a wonderful reminder that genetics don’t have to dictate who we love.

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BROOKE BEYFUSS works full-time as a copywriter for an adult web company, a position that has provided a great deal of future novel material. A graduate of Rutgers University, Brooke is the founder of the Woodbridge Cultural Arts’ Commission Writing Group. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


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