Ten Novels with Unreliable Narrators That Will Blow Your Mind

Who all had “Unreliable Narrator” on their reading challenge? Who also sat there and asked, “What the hell does that mean?”

An intriguing novel with some big plot twists benefits greatly from an unreliable narrator. These are stories that are recounted from the perspective of someone who is either unable or unwilling to give an accurate or comprehensive description of what is taking place. They can be minors, alcoholics intoxicated, or pathological liars. Sometimes there are individuals whose personality feature prevents them from discovering the truth. These ten excellent books will make you ponder what is actually going on.

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We Cast a Shadow 

by Maurice Carlos Ruffin


The alluring claim of Dr. Nzinga’s clinic, where anybody may get their lips shrunk, their skin bleached, and their nose constricted, is that “you can be beautiful, even more beautiful than before.” If you can afford it, total demelanization will free you from the restrictions of being born in a black body.

Residents of this Southern metropolis in the near future, where fenced-in ghettos and police brutality are rampant, are increasingly resorting to this experimental medical technique. Our narrator, who is a parent like any other, only wants what’s best for his kid Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is becoming larger every day. His father grows more terrified as Nigel gets darker. How far, though, will he go to defend his son? And in the process, will he destroy his family?

This enthralling, hallucinogenic book is both an intensely emotional family saga and a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America. A parent who only wants his son to prosper in a corrupt environment is at the heart of everything. The writing of Maurice Carlos Ruffin is reminiscent of Ralph Ellison’s sharp insight, Franz Kafka’s spinning terror, and Vladimir Nabokov’s sparkling style. We Cast a Shadow bravely brings attention to the violence we inherit and the desperate measures we take to protect the people we care about.

The Good Sister 

by Sally Hepworth


The Good Sister by The Mother-in-Law author Sally Hepworth is a fantastic book about the secrets that connect two sisters together.

In her neighborhood library, Fern Castle works. Three times every week, she has supper with Rose, one of her twin sisters. She also does her best to stay away from crowded areas, bright lights, and loud noises. Because Fern has a meticulously planned out existence, upsetting her routine may be deadly.

Fern sees the opportunity to repay her sister for everything that Rose has done for her when Rose learns she is sterile. Rose can receive a child from Fern. All she has to do is locate a father. Simple.

In this funny, colorful, and startling tale of what families keep concealed, Fern’s quest will upend the foundations of the life she has carefully established for herself and stir up terrible secrets from the past.

Shutter Island 

by Dennis Lehane


Summer, 1954. Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane is located on Shutter Island, where U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels has traveled. As a cyclone approaches them, he sets out to pursue a murderess named Rachel Solando who has fled treatment with his colleague Chuck Aule.
At Ashecliffe Hospital, however, nothing is as it appears. Is he looking for a patient who has vanished? Or has he been dispatched to investigate into tales about Ashecliffe’s extreme approach to psychiatry; an approach that may entail drug experimentation, horrible surgical experiments, and murderous countermoves in the shadow battle against Soviet indoctrination … Or has he traveled there for some other, more private reason?

The inquiries only grow as the inquiry progresses. Teddy and Chuck start to think that they might never leave Shutter Island because someone is attempting to make them lose their minds as the truth gets more and more elusive to them as they draw closer to it.


by Tiffany D. Jackson


In this gritty, complex, and eerie debut novel by Tiffany D. Jackson, a girl accused of murder searches for the truth while making it through life in a group home. Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster.

A baby was slain by Mary B. Addison.

Allegedly. She said very little during that initial interview with investigators, and the news media filled in the only details that really mattered: a white infant had perished while in the care of a black mother who attended church and her daughter, age nine. Mary was found guilty in front of the jury and by the people. But did she actually do it?

Before, there was no reason to correct the record, but now she must consider Ted and their unborn child. Mary’s destiny is now in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most when the state threatens to seize her baby: her mother. Nobody is aware of the actual Momma. But does anybody know who Mary really is?

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle 

by Haruki Murakami


In a Tokyo neighborhood, a young guy called Toru Okada explores a netherworld under the serene surface of the city in pursuit of his wife and her lost cat. He runs across an odd assortment of allies and enemies when their searches collide. One of Haruki Murakami’s most celebrated and well-liked books, it is gripping, prescient, and full of humor and danger.

My Real Children 

by Jo Walton


Patricia Cowan is quite elderly in 2015 and. The notes that were fastened to the edge of her bed stated, “Confused today.” She frequently forgets important details, such as the year and significant occasions in her children’s lives. She does, however, recall events that seem impossible. She recalls being married to Mark and having four kids. She also recalls choosing to have three children with Bee rather than marry Mark. She recalls both the explosion that killed President Kennedy in 1963 and the decision Kennedy made not to seek for reelection in 1964 following the nuclear exchange that destroyed Miami and Kiev.

Her early years and her time spent studying at Oxford during the Second World War were solid foundations. But did she eventually wed Mark, or not? Did all of her friends refer to her as Trish or Pat? Had she been a wealthy travel writer with residences in Britain and Italy, or a housewife who left a miserable marriage when her kids were grown up? Does the moon beyond her window house a peaceful research facility or a military command center armed with nuclear weapons?

Two lives, two universes, and two different accounts of contemporary history—each with its own loves, losses, and triumphs—are present. My Real Children by Jo Walton tells the story of Patricia Cowan’s two lives and how every life matters utterly.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 

by Mark Haddon


Christopher John Francis Boone is familiar with all of the world’s nations, their capitals, and all prime numbers up to 7,057. He connects well with animals but has no concept of how people feel. Being touched is intolerable to him. Moreover, he abhors the color yellow.

One of the most engrossing, outlandish, and generally praised books in recent years is the implausible tale of Christopher’s journey to look into the mysterious death of a neighborhood dog.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

by Olga Tokarczuk


Janina spends the gloomy winter days in a far-off Polish hamlet studying astrology, translating William Blake’s poetry, and maintaining the vacation residences of affluent Warsaw citizens. Her not-so-secret predilection for the companionship of animals over humans only serves to enhance her reputation as a weirdo and a loner. Then Big Foot, a neighbor, is found dead. Soon after, other deaths are found in more odd settings. Janina enters the case as suspicions grow, confident that she is the one whodunit. If only someone would take notice of her. . . Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead, a profoundly enjoyable thriller/fairy tale, is a compelling investigation of the hazy borderland between sanity and crazy, justice and tradition, liberty and fate. Who do we think is sane? It enquires. Who has a voice that is worthy?

A Pale View of Hills 

by Kazuo Ishiguro


This is the tale of Etsuko, a Japanese mother who is currently living alone in England and is reflecting on her daughter’s recent suicide. She relives the carnage that followed World War II in Japan in a book where the past and present are muddled.

Fleishman is in Trouble 

by Taffy Brodesser-Akner


When Toby Fleishman and his wife of over fifteen years divorced, he believed he knew what to expect: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some lingering resentment, and the occasional tense moment in their co-parenting discussions. He had no way of knowing that one day, in the thick of his summer of sexual liberation, Rachel would just leave their two kids at his house and not come back. He had been putting a lot of effort into achieving balance in his solitary life. His long-dormant hope was now starting to build up steam. Then this.

Toby’s neat story of the rejected husband with the too ambitious wife serves as his only solace as he struggles to find out where Rachel left while still managing his patients at the hospital, his never-ending parenting responsibilities, and his new sexual popularity aided by an app. Toby will have to take into account the possibility that he may not have first seen things properly if he ever hopes to fully comprehend what happened to Rachel and what happened to his marriage.

Fleishman Is in Trouble is a smart, frightening, and sometimes humorous portrayal of a society struggling to traverse the fault lines of an institution that has shown itself to be worthy of both our great wariness and our great optimism. It is a scorching, completely uncensored debut.

Books with unreliable narrators are like the sand moving beneath our feet in real life. They are simultaneously perplexing and exciting. One of these enigmatic, perverse stories will take you on a crazy voyage. Hope this helps fill that prompt.

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