Trope Thursdays: My Family Hurt Yours [3]

Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.

Round 3 of my new feature!

As I said in the description above, the idea is to look at common book tropes and dissect them each month. I’m going to pick a variety of tropes–including ones I hate–and dig a little deeper. First, I’ll define what that trope is and then list some common features. Next, I’ll pick some examples of the trope in action and why it works (or doesn’t work) for that particular story. And then finally, I’ll open the floor to you to tell me your thoughts on the trope or recommend some reads to me.

My Family Member Hurt Yours


A situation where an unlikely bond (or romance) develops between two leads (A & B) in a novel despite a shared history of Person A’s family member hurting/betraying Person B’s self or family.

Example: Sara and John fall in love despite the fact that John’s father was the one driving the car that killed Sara’s sister 5 years ago.

Common Features:

  • Plan for revenge
  • Plan for redemption
  • Forbidden love
  • Focus on family
  • Unexpected plot twists

What I Love About The “My Family Member Hurt Yours” Trope:

While it doesn’t have a nice name or an easy to explain definition, this is one of my favourite tropes to read for a variety of reasons.

For one, I always find these stories have well developed characters. They often have complex characteristics and situations given the past and that provides ample opportunity for growth. Through meeting this “new” person, they start to question their beliefs and perspectives and I find that the result is stronger characters and a solid connection between the leads.

I also like the focus on family. Lots of books create a tragic past by having negligent parents or the like–and while those are important stories–it is nice to see cohesive families in novels as well. Sure, they might not be in the healthiest of places but that’s another great aspect of these stories–the growth of the family unit as a whole.

What I Dislike About The “My Family Member Hurt Yours” Trope:

One of the hardest sells of these novels is the romance. You have to convince me that these two people should overcome all the obstacles in their way in order to be together. They have to learn the lesson of forgiveness and moving on. Which means I don’t want to see superficial connections forged between them. I need to see why these two belong together and why their love is stronger than the past of hurt.

Note: All these examples mention the shared past in some respect in their synopsis. I didn’t pick any books that have this trope as a hidden twist in their stories in an effort to prevent spoilers.

Books that Use the “My Family Member Hurt Yours” Trope Well:

This is one of the first books I ever remember reading with this trope to it. What I liked about these two was who they were as people. They both have their flaws and their setbacks due to their shared past. I really enjoyed watching them work individually on those weakness while at the same time watching them fight this fantastic connection between them. It’s such a beautiful story about letting go of the past and seeing what the future holds.

>>Series Review: Games



Ok, this one might be cheating a bit since the person directly affected is the heroine but the shared past does have an effect on her family as well.

What I really loved about this one was the focus on what the outside world thought as opposed to what the characters thought about their love. It was an interesting perspective for the novel to have. While their connection could have been a touch stronger, I really enjoyed watching them overcome their shared past.


Books that Didn’t Use the “My Family Member Hurt Yours” Trope Well:

I love a good “need for revenge” story and I was hoping this book would have it. Unfortunately, it focused way too much on the sexy times of the relationship and seemed to leave the plot behind in favour of heated sex scenes. It didn’t help either that the relationship was pretty insta-connection.

Series Review: Fifth Avenue Trilogy



Despite a promising start, this one lost me in the middle and never got me back. This is one of those cases where the romance wasn’t developed enough to convince me these two belonged together despite all the obstacles.

Series Review: Finding

Please let me know what you think about this features structure/topics be commenting below. I am more than willing to modify it in the coming months!

Have you read any books with the “My Family Member Hurt Yours” Trope?

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Comments 6

  • Another factor to consider if said friend’s family hurt your family is the expectation that readers are supposed to believe that you — family friend — did not know Characteristic A-to-Z of said love interest? I think I’d be more interested in the revenge plot than the romance but that’s just me and cynicism LOL.

    • Good point about that factor. They often have one character knowing and the other unsuspecting until *surprise-surprise* someone spills the bean and drama ensues. I find the story is much stronger when they both know the truth and try to work it out.

      I’m often drawn to the revenge aspect myself–I totally get the cynic in you ;). I love a good revenge story too. But it never fails that the romance get tangled up in it and there is nothing worse than a weak romance. It can totally undermine the whole story 🙁

  • I don’t always love this trope. I really dislike it when it’s used as a twist to add some drama. But if we know everything before hand then it can kind of fall under a Hate-to-Love scenario, which I like.
    Stephanie’s Book Reviews recently posted…Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Romance NovelsMy Profile

    • It’s a narrow line isn’t it? I didn’t really touch on the “added for dramatic twist” aspect–in hindsight I probably should have. Because you are totally right, it can be used to create some unnecessary drama. Sometimes it seems like it comes out of left field while other times it can be a little too obvious (but maybe I’ve read too many books).

      I do love the hate-to-love you situations though. They have some of the best tension!

  • Not books and not exactly family but this made me think of Klaus and Caroline in his Vampire Diaries days…

    • SO TRUE! It’s a very common theme in TV shows as well. All the soap operas use it at one point or another as well. It does bring the drama!

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