Young adult book about a family that can absorb other people's pain
May 26, 2022 5:50 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to recall a young adult fiction book I read in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It was probably written in the 1970s or 1960s. It was about a family who could experience and maybe absorb the pain and sickness of other people making them get better again. I have a vague memory of the setting maybe having been seaside or an island or near some kind of water. The only other thing I remember was reference to the youngest child experiencing intense suffering when another child in town suffered an injury.
posted by cmp4Meta to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Some of your description reminds me of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but I don't think that's the book you're talking about. It's wildly out of the correct date range, anyway.

It sounds otherwise familiar, so I'm curious what it will turn out to be.
posted by stormyteal at 5:54 PM on May 26, 2022

Hmm, it kind of reminds me of Ursula K. LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas". It's from early 70s. But it isn't a whole family, it's one child. And it's pretty haunting so I'm not sure I'd describe it as YA.
posted by nat at 6:09 PM on May 26, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This sounds like Zenna Henderson's stories about The People, which include many instances of healing / taking on the pain of others, e.g. Bethie's ability described here.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:19 PM on May 26, 2022 [6 favorites]

It's about a young boy, not a family, but some of this is reminiscent of The Giver, but it was written in 1993.
posted by mostly vowels at 6:53 PM on May 26, 2022

Best answer: I was thinking Zenna Henderson as well.
posted by purenitrous at 8:57 PM on May 26, 2022

Oh my goodness. I know exactly what you're talking about. That girl is an Empath, right? She experiences intense suffering the very first time she walks outside the compound and gets exposed to the general public. But gosh I just can't remember the name of the book - I do recall I never finished it. It should be in my library reading history though so I will come back and comment if I find it. Just wanted to chime in and say YES this sounds very familiar to me.
posted by MiraK at 6:34 AM on May 27, 2022

MiraK is probably referencing Parable Of The Sower by Octavia Butler, which was written too late for cmp4Meta's question but is nonetheless an excellent book/trilogy.
posted by zinful at 8:39 AM on May 27, 2022

« Older Everything Everywhere All At When? (streaming)   |   What movie is this? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.