Books & Movies about Family Estrangement

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Estrangement Definition

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noun

An act of breaking away from a previously friendly relationship.
Thesaurus: separation, split, break-up, division, parting.

A state or feeling of being no longer friendly.

Thesaurus: dissociation, disaffection, hostility, antipathy, alienation, antagonism, breach.

Etymology: 15th century, from French estranger, from Latin extraneare to treat as a stranger.

About the Links

The books and movies listed with links to Amazon may be helpful in dealing with loss, understanding the underpinnings of some estrangements, researching the subject of estrangement and with resolving estrangements. They may or may not relate to your personal situation. I have read only a few of these books. When I have read a book, I mention some of my thoughts about the book.
I have been an Amazon Associate for many years from back when you could have an Amazon store (which ended long ago but the Associates program continued.)
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This amounts to a very small amount that I receive as a credit on my own Amazon purchases. I include these links to Amazon for the convenience of visitors, not for the credits from Amazon. If I did this for the credits, that would be about the silliest possible business decision I ever made!
My reviews and comments regarding the books and movies are my own true opinions and are not remotely influenced by the possibility of receiving credits.

Abandoned Parents: The Devil's Dilemma

Abandoned Parents: The Devil's Dilemma: The Causes and Consequences of Adult Children Abandoning Their Parents, (Volume 1) by Sharon A. Wildey. Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 27, 2014).
Sharon Wildey earned a BA in Sociology, JD in law and a MD in Theology. She has worked as a conflict mediator, trial lawyer and writer.
Abandoned Parents: Healing Beyond Understanding: Easing the pain of Parents Abandoned by their Adult Children (Volume 2) by Sharon A Wildey, 2017.

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief by Pauline Boss, Harvard University Press, 1999.

"Bad" Mothers: The Politics of Blame in Twentieth-Century America

"Bad" Mothers: The Politics of Blame in Twentieth-Century America, Edited by Molly Ladd-Taylor and Lauri Umansky, 1998. Published by New York University Press. Twenty-six essays on Mothers.

From the back cover:
"These provocative and moving essays make it crystal clear that the Bad Mother label is applied with such disregard for the facts that it is on the border of superstition. The overwhelming evidence in these well-researched studies shows that we must fashion a much more healthy ideal of motherhood that actually works for the good of the whole family. I highly recommend this book as one step on that path." by Diane Meyer, author of MotherGuilt: How Our Culture Blames Mothers for What is Wrong With Society.

Banished: A Grandmother Alone

Banished: A Grandmother Alone: Surviving Alienation and Estrangement” by Nancy Lee Klune. Balboa Press, 2018.

From the Amazon page for her book:
"Each inspirational chapter in Banished explores the dilemmas and challenges facing alienated parents and grandparents. Woven throughout are intensely personal accounts of the author’s own healing along with practical advice for those who suffer from family estrangement. She shares her process of healing, discussing everything from acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, self-love, and the importance of letting go and honoring your own life. She reveals how she found joy and happiness again, despite the vacuum created by the absence of her adult child and grandchildren.”

I just learned about this book. I have not read it yet. I did take a look at the Amazon reviews and was impressed with the positive things that I read there. Take a look at the reviews!

Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed

Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed is a very unusual book that I found when I was shopping online for photography books. I have an interest in fine art photography. I purchased this book because it was both a text and photography book on a difficult mother/daughter relationship. Gay Block, author and photographer, is the daughter. Bertha Alyce, her mother, died in 1991. The book was published in 2003.

This book won't be for everyone. I found it fascinating and strange. There is nudity in it of both mother and daughter, individually and together.

Apparently Bertha Alyce was narcissistic. Gay Block describes some of the problems in their relationship but is vague on much of what caused her to dislike her mother from an early age. The reader needs to do a lot of reading between the lines.

This book takes a very different angle on how a daughter dealt with her feelings of estrangement from her mother. The estrangement wasn't one of being apart from each other. They were estranged while being in touch with each other. They were connected yet apart. Being physically in each other's presence did not deepen their relationship.

This book seemed almost cruel to me in that Gay Block photographs her mother as though Bertha Alyce were a fascinatingly deformed butterfly on a pin, unable to turn away from the gaze of her daughter and the lens of the camera. Is Gay Block attempting to understand her incomprehensible (to her) flawed mother? Or is she attempting to release all of her emotions for having the "wrong" kind of mother by exPosing her mother on film and on paper?

Since Bertha never saw the book as she died years ago, the author's family would be the ones who would be most affected by any embarrassment. It's not a pictorial Mommy Dearest but I wonder if the author's feelings that inspired her to do this book have any similarity to the feelings that inspired Mommy Dearest? A very strange book.

I am a person who feels private about my body. The idea of my mother and I being nude together or either one of us being nude in the presence of the other is not an appealing thought to me. The idea borders on horrifying because nudity has the connotation of vulnerability and intimacy and closeness. I would not feel comfortable being nude with my mother. I would not want to photograph her nude.

Yet in Bertha Alyce, as much as these two women are so nude together, the lack of clothes does nothing to make them closer. In fact, it is almost as if the lack of emotional closeness caused Gay Block and her mother to remove their clothes, precisely because they are NOT close. Their estrangement may have made being nude and in photographs together easier rather than more difficult.

They were so emotionally distant from each other that nudity didn't matter. This is my take on it. The book is open to many interpretations.

The Bill from My Father: A Memoir

The Bill from My Father: A Memoir by Bernard Cooper
I learned of this book from Mark Sichel, author of Healing From Family Rifts. I haven't yet read the book but it sounds fascinating. The author is the son of a Los Angeles divorce lawyer, now deceased, who might have been called a Daddy Dearest sort of father.

Codependent No More

"Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself" by Melody Beattie. The classic on codependence, a condition that sometimes precedes an estrangement.

Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness

"Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness” by Pete Earley. 2007.
From Amazon:
Former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley had written extensively about the criminal justice system. But it was only when his own son—in the throes of a manic episode—broke into a neighbor's house that he learned what happens to mentally ill people who break a law.

This is the Earley family's compelling story, a troubling look at bureaucratic apathy and the countless thousands who suffer confinement instead of care, brutal conditions instead of treatment, in the “revolving doors” between hospital and jail. With mass deinstitutionalization, large numbers of state mental patients are homeless or in jail-an experience little better than the horrors of a century ago. Earley takes us directly into that experience—and into that of a father and award-winning journalist trying to fight for a better way.

The Dance of Anger

"The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships” by Harriet Lerner. An oldy but goody on anger.

The Dance of Connection

"The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate” by Harriet Lerner.
I haven't read this one but saw it when I was updating Amazon links for books. It is by the same author who wrote The Dance of Anger. It sounded as though it might be helpful so I added it to the list.

Dean and Me: (A Love Story)

"Dean and Me: (A Love Story)” by Jerry Lewis, comedian, actor, fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy, about his relationship and subsequent estrangement with straight man, actor, and singer Dean Martin.

Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children

"Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children” by Sheri McGregor. Sewing Creek Press, May 3, 2016.
From the book's listing page (an earlier page than the current one) on Amazon:
"Sheri McGregor holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, a Master's in human behavior, and is a certified life coach. She serves on the advisory board for National University's College of Letters and Sciences. As a prolific writer, McGregor's articles on psychology, health, human behavior, and a variety of other topics have appeared in dozens of national and international publications.
She has written for anthologies, websites, and organizations including the non-profit Families for Depression Awareness.
Her two novels were first printed in the U.S., and then translated into several languages around the globe. McGregor's hiking guides for the San Diego area are popular among outdoor enthusiasts and armchair readers alike. She leads readers down the trails with descriptions that reveal her appreciation for nature and how it calms the mind. McGregor's work to help parents of estranged adult children began at RejectedParents.net which she founded in 2013.

Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You

"Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You” by Susan Forward (author of Toxic Parents) and Donna Frazier. I can't recall that I've read this one but maybe I should!

The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells

"The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells” by Randi Kreger, Paperback. Hazelden 2008. ISBN-10: 1592853633 ISBN-13: 978-1592853632. Randi Kreger is co-author with Paul T. Mason, M.S. of "Stop Walking on Eggshells” originally published in 1998, a book that I found immensely helpful.

Estranged Stories

Estranged Stories Understanding. Support. Peace. Hope” by Elizabeth Vagnoni, Mary Cay Reed. Blurb 2017. ISBN-10: 0615937683, ISBN-13: 978-0615937687. This is the print version.

Estranged Stories, ebook version. Available for Amazon Kindle Fire®, Apple iOS devices, and MacOS computers. Currently (as of May 23, 2021) priced at $15.99.

From the online listings of the book on Amazon and on Blurb:
"In Estranged Stories, Elizabeth Boykin Vagnoni and Mary Cay Reed have woven together a compassionate description of the succession of emotions many parents experience when they become estranged from their adult children. Using a variety of stories from EstrangedStories.com, parents talk about the common thoughts and feelings they experience when faced with estrangement. They talk about suggestions for confronting feelings, how to respond to others, finding hope, and coping with the inability to have a relationship with Grandchildren. While these stories come from a few, they represent the feelings of more than 5,000 who have joined estrangedstories and responses from over 3,000 who have completed our survey. Sometimes just understanding that you are not alone and many others share the same "stories", is helpful when trying to understand this emotionally crippling situation."

Estrangement of Parents by Their Adult Children

"Estrangement of Parents by Their Adult Children" by Sharon Waters. Revised Second Edition 2019.
From Amazon::
"This is the second writing of Ms. Waters' popular first book on the estrangement of parents by their adult children. Much in the contemporary epidemic remains the same, but this second edition includes an extensive new chapter offering estranged parents strategies for coping with this tragic family rift. When adult children estrange one or both of the shocked parents desperately look for answers. They search for flaws in themselves and their parenting. Hurting and embarrassed, they hide out in their darkest emotional corners while fearing discovery as a parental failure.Estrangement is often treated as a family squabble that no one wants to talk about. This book discusses likely influences of the estrangement phenomenon, traces the progression of estrangement grief and outlines common characteristics. This second edition also offers ways to find comfort and meaning in life beyond estrangement."

Family Estrangement:  . . .

Family Estrangement: A Matter of Perspective” by Kylie Agllias. ISBN-13: 978-1472458612 ISBN-10: 1472458613
From Amazon:
Family estrangement is larger than conflict and more complicated than betrayal. It is entwined in contradictory beliefs, values, behaviours and goals and is the result of at least one member of the family considering reconciliation impossible and/or undesirable. The cessation of familial relations, whether that involves rejection or deciding to leave, can be an inordinately traumatising experience. Whilst data suggests that around 1 in 12 people are estranged from at least one family member this topic is rarely discussed or researched.

Based on the author’s in-depth research and exploration of the topic of estrangement, Family Estrangement: A Matter of Perspective captures the unique lived experiences of both estrangee and estranger. Offering multiple perspectives drawn from academic and popular literature as well as case studies, the book contextualises its chapters within current theoretical understandings of family relationships and estrangement, including Loss and Grief theories, Attachment Theory and Bowen Family Systems Theory. Practice sections provide estranged readers and professionals with a structured approach to exploring the various aspects of estrangement within a family and to help them identify resilience, strengths and strategies which individuals may harness as they attempt to live with estrangement.

Written with the aim to provide guidance in understanding estrangement in context, this book is suitable for estranged family members and all professionals who encounter and work with people affected by estrangement, including social workers, counsellors, psychologists, allied health professionals, doctors, nurses and legal professions.

Family Lies

"Family Lies" by Candida Eittreim
An excerpt from the online description of the book:
"We are all fairly familiar with the stories of pain, loss and confusion adoptees have shared. How dislocated and displaced these children often feel. How the need to know lives at the core of their beings, an unending ache that only finding out the truth can ease. Victims of family lies feel this same ache, sense of betrayal and loss. Modern families are often multi –parented and multi-cultured. Many children were the result of unwed pregnancies. Often a parent will make the decision to lie or pretty up this portion of their lives. In other instances, a parent, grandparent or other relative may simply omit, or hide a very close family connection, due to disagreements, estrangements or outright dislike. Some hide history out of a sense of shame or embarrassment. The result is the same, a sense of betrayal, loss of confidence and a deep sense of not fitting anywhere."

I haven't read this book. Found the reference to it on the internet. Sounds as though it may be interesting. Credit for the quote above probably goes to the author. I found it on the website where the book is described.

Family Estrangements: How They Begin, How to Mend Them, How to Cope with Them

"Family Estrangements: How They Begin, How to Mend Them, How to Cope with Them” by Barbara LeBey. Longstreet Press, April 2001.
The author was estranged from her son. They have resolved their estrangement.

Family Wars: Classic Conflicts in Family Business and How to Deal with Them

"Family Wars: Classic Conflicts in Family Business and How to Deal with Them” written by Nigel Nicholson and Grant Gordon. 2008.
A quote from an online article, “Blood Ties”, about the book:
"For our book Family Wars, I and Grant Gordon (director general of the UK's Institute for Family Business) analysed 24 case histories worldwide, looking at some of the highest-profile family conflicts of recent times. We wanted to see what common themes they exhibited, and what lessons might be learned. They are an enthralling mix. There are awesome melodramas of skulduggery, double-cross, relentless vengeance and, in one case (the Gucci saga), even a hitman. Then there are more mundane but equally depressing stories - where families lock themselves into positions of increasing entrenchment."

Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them

"Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them" by Karl Pellemer, Ph.D.
Karl Pillemer is a family sociologist and Professor of human development at Cornell University and also a Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is an author of 6 books and over 150 scientific publications. He has been a speaker throughout the world on aging related issues.
Fault Lines shares for the first time findings from Dr. Pillemer's five-year, ground-breaking Cornell Reconciliation Project.

Former Things

Former Things” by Gail Lowe. Publisher: Eloquent Books, May 2, 2010. A novel about mother/daughter estrangement that spans twenty years. Gail Lowe is a staff reporter for the Wakefield Daily Item and Melrose Weekly News in Massachusetts where she writes a column called Reflections from the Lowe Zone.
She is also the owner of WordPower, a boutique company offering public relations, marketing and promotional services to the travel and tourism industry. In 2003, she founded Red Rock Writers, a creative writing collaborative.She also teaches writing at colleges in the Greater Boston area. Ms. Lowe lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Tony Giannetto.

Fragmented Families:  . . .

Fragmented Families: Patterns of Estrangement and Reconciliation” by Ellen B. Sucov. Southern Hills Press, 2006.
A thoughtful examination of familial estrangement from several perspectives: cultural, religious, historical, Biblical, and personal. Ellen Sucov is a retired psychologist who has had personal experience of the effects of estrangement in her own family. She speaks of the issues surrounding estrangement primarily from the perspective of the Jewish culture and religion but her thoughts on the topic can be extrapolated by the reader to other cultures and religions.
"Fragmented Families” was chosen as the winner of the 2006 NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD in the category "Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice."The author has an excellent website about the book with additional thoughts and information on familial estrangements at: fragmentedfamilies.com

For Mothers of Difficult Daughters: . . .

"For Mothers of Difficult Daughters: How to Enrich and Repair the Relationship in Adulthood” by Dr. Charney Herst with Lynette Padwa, Villard Books, 1998.

The Grief Recovery Handbook : . . .

"The Grief Recovery Handbook : The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career and Faith” by John W. James and Russell Friedman, Harper Perennial, 2017, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition.

Grown-Up Children Who Won't Grow Up

"Grown-Up Children Who Won't Grow Up” by Dr. Larry V. Stockman and Cynthia S. Graves, Prima Publishing, 1994

Heal & Forgive:  . . .

"Heal & Forgive: Forgiveness in the Face of Abuse” by Nancy Richards. Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2005. (Note: Her book's title was changed to "Mother, I Don't Forgive You" when it was re-released in 2017.) The author has a blogspot blog, “Mother I Don’t Forgive you”, where she posts about abuse, estrangement, forgiveness, reconciliation, and related issues.
"Heal and Forgive II: The Journey from Abuse and Estrangement to Reconciliation” came out in 2008. In this book she shares her story of having been estranged for fourteen years from her mother, brothers, and others in her immediate family due to having been abused and then reconciling. A very personal account of estrangement and reconciliation.

Healing From Family Rifts:  . . .

"Healing From Family Rifts : Ten Steps to Finding Peace After Being Cut Off From a Family Member” by Mark Sichel. Mark offers good advice to those who are suffering from the initial shock and pain of becoming estranged.

Heavy Snow - My Father's Disappearance into Alzheimer’s 

“Heavy Snow - My Father's Disappearance into Alzheimer’s”
by John E. Haugse. An illustrated story of the difficult relationship between the author and his father which ends with the son's struggle to care for his father when the father develops Alzheimer's.

Her Mother’s Daughter: Memoir of the Mother I Never Knew and of My Daughter, Courtney Love

"Her Mother's Daughter: Memoir of the Mother I Never Knew and of My Daughter, Courtney Love”
by Linda Carroll. 2006

I Am My Mother’s Daughter:  . . .

"I Am My Mother's Daughter: Making Peace With Mom-before It's Too Late” by Iris Krasnow. Published by Perseus Books Group, March 2006. ISBN: 0465037542

I Am Not Sick. I Don’t Need Help!  How to Help Someone Accept Treatment

"I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help! How to Help Someone Accept Treatment” by Xavier Amador - 20th Anniversary Edition
From Amazon:
"This book fills a tremendous void...' wrote E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., about the first edition of I AM NOT SICK, I Don't Need Help! Twenty years later, it still does. Dr. Amador's research on poor insight was inspired by his success helping his brother Henry, who had schizophrenia, accept treatment. Like tens of millions of others diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and addictions, Henry did not believe he was ill. In this latest edition, all chapters have been updated with new research on anosognosia (lack of insight) and much more detail on LEAP. Readers will find expanded guidance on how to learn and use LEAP. New advice, relying on lessons learned from tens of thousands of LEAP seminar participants, is given to help readers quickly and effectively use Dr. Amador's method for helping someone accept treatment."

If the Creek Don’t Rise

"If the Creek Don't Rise” by Rita Williams.
I haven't read this book and am not familiar with the author's writing. However, in an interesting online essay, “Fake Memoir - Real Consequences”, about literary wannabes, Rita Williams mentioned a healed estrangement with her sisters. She sounded like such an excellent writer with an interesting story to tell that I am including her book because it touches on sibling estrangement, whether or not she talks about the topic in depth. The book is most likely an interesting read.

The Immune Spirit:  . . .

"The Immune Spirit: A Story of Love, Loss and Healing; One Woman's Triumph over Breast Cancer, from the Mother of Meg Ryan” by Susan Ryan Jordon.
I have read this book. While I found it interesting and could relate to some of what Susan Jordan had experienced in her life, it wasn't a helpful book as far as furthering my own understanding of estrangement. It is a good book to read in that her story has parallels to others and can help others know that the experience is not unique. I could empathize with her feelings and with her experiences.

I've noticed that several authors who have written books on estrangement and who have been estranged from their adult children write well on the experience of becoming and being estranged but most haven't found a way to resolve the estrangement. They write books but they generally don't have any more answers that the rest of us do. Assuming that an answer means resolution. Maybe this means that often the answer must be something else.

I Thought We’d Never Speak Again: . . .

"I Thought We'd Never Speak Again: The Road from Estrangement to Reconciliation” by Laura Davis. HarperCollins March 26, 2002.
To get perspective on Laura Davis's history of writing books and this book in particular, this Salon article: “Truth & Reconciliation” by Julia Gracen, May 22, 2002 about Davis's book is enlightening. I would suggest reading it before ordering and reading this book.
I've read part of "I Thought We'd Never Speak Again".
Years ago I read Davis’s "The Courage to Heal”. Her writing has helped a lot of people deal with their experiences of having been abused sexually. However, her writing on recovered memories in "The Courage to Heal” has resulted in heartache and estrangement in families where people took her advice regarding recovered memories to heart and believed that in every case where a therapist assisted them in recovering a memory, that the recovered memory was the absolute truth and the same as a memory that didn't need to be recovered. Then they estranged themselves from their families, based on their belief in the truth of those recovered memories. Now she writes a book on estrangements? Do you see the irony?
Davis is a good writer and researcher. I feel better after reading her words rather than worse. However, due to the controversy over her writing I include here the link to the Salon "Truth & Reconciliation” article as well as the link to the website for the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.

Long Division

Long Division” by M. Nicole R. Wildhood. Finishing Line Press 2017. ISBN-10: 1635342988 ISBN-13: 978-1635342987. A book of poetry about family estrangement and specifically about sibling estrangement..

From the back cover:
“The poems in Long Division vocalize the thoughts we have but rarely share: translating the silence between sibling and sibling, parent and child, as well as the languages between two very different people. These poems are honest and brave, acknowledging divisions and barriers while also working to heal them."
–Meg Eden, author of Post-High School Reality Quest”

“M. Nicole R. Wildhood, originally from Colorado, lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband. She is a freelance writer and blogs at mnicolerwildhood.com; she considers her articles and book reviews for Seattle’s street newspaper Real Change among her most vital work.”

Make Peace with Anyone:  . . .

"Make Peace with Anyone: Breakthrough Strategies to Quickly End Any Conflict, Feud, or Estrangement” by David J. Lieberman, Ph.D., St. Martin's Press, February 2002.

Making Loss Matter:  . . .

"Making Loss Matter : Creating Meaning in Difficult Times” by Rabbi David Wolpe. Riverhead Books, 1999.
I've only read the book jacket and taken a quick look inside. It is written from a different perspective than one I usually venture into: a religious perspective. Since many people do find support through religion, I include it here. I may even read it one of these days!
I bought it on sale and liked what I read on the book jacket. A quote from the jacket:
 "...how do I make this loss meaningful? Its origin was a mystery. What would be its end? Could I, with the power of my own hand and heart, turn a painful inexplicable loss into a generator of purpose and hope?"

From Mother and Daughter to Friends

"From Mother and Daughter to Friends" by Nancy Aniston, mother of Jennifer Aniston from whom she was estranged. They reconciled in 2005. Nancy Anistom's last name was changed to Nancy Dow when she remarried. She died in 2016.
Similar in spirit to the book by Meg Ryan’s mother, Susan Jordan. I recommend this book for the same reasons as Jordan's book. There are no answers but you may find some similarities to your own estrangement.

The Nurture Assumption:  . . .

"The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do” by Judith Rich Harris. 1998. A good read for those who are interested in theories on how and why we turn out the way that we do. Having been one of those people who used to blame so much on parents, this book gave me a different perspective on the influence in our lives of the group, the people with whom we came into contact besides our immediate family.
A provocative and interesting book that might help you let go of some of your sense of over-responsibility if you are the sort, like me, who has blamed yourself for everything that ever happened with your kids or has blamed other parents for everything that happened with their kids. There are other factors at work. None of us are all powerful. Recognizing the power of other factors helps to put things into a healthier perspective.

Stop Walking on Eggshells:  . . .

"Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care about Has Borderline Personality Disorder”, revised and updated 3rd Edition, by Paul T. Mason, M.S. and Randi Kreger, New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2020.
I recommend this book highly to anyone who has a relative who has Borderline Personality Disorder. I reread it whenever enough time has passed that I begin to forget what it has to say. It can help you keep your sanity when it seems as though the insane are running the asylum.

This ’n' That

This ’n' That” by Bette Davis with Michael Herskowitz, A Berkley Book, NY, NY, 1988.

Turbulent Souls:  . . .

"Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return To His Jewish Family” by Stephen J. Dubner. 1999
Republished in 2006 under a new title: "Choosing My Religion: A Memoir of a Family Beyond Belief"
From Stephen J. Dubner's website:
"Only when he reached his twenties did he discover his parents' extraordinary story, a story full of bitter estrangements, hard-fought triumphs, and deep secrets (Ethel Rosenberg, executed as an atomic spy in 1953, was his mother's first cousin). In excavating the story, he felt the tug of the religion his parents had abandoned and began to pursue it as vigorously as they had pursued their adopted faith. Along the way, he met dozens of his own Jewish relatives, traveled to his grandparents' shtetl in Poland, re-created the life of his late father, wrestled with the implications of the Holocaust, and saw his relationship with his mother curdle so thoroughly that it would fall to the Archbishop of New York, John Cardinal O'Connor, to help broker a peace.
Turbulent Souls is a luminous memoir, crafted with the eye of a journalist and the art of a novelist. In turns comic and heartbreaking, it tells the story of a family torn apart by religion, sustained by faith, and reunited by the truth that is revealed in these pages. "

Unless: A Novel (P.S.)

Unless: A Novel (P.S.)” by Carol Shields. Excellent writing. Estrangement between a young woman and her family plays a central role in the story but the story itself is more about other issues such as women writers and their treatment in the literary world, the world of writers and writing, the process of writing, and women's anger at being trivialized and overlooked.

We Don’t Talk Anymore:  . . .

"We Don't Talk Anymore: Healing after Parents and Their Adult Children Become Estranged" by Kathy McCoy. October 2017. ISBN-10: 1492651133 ISBN-13: 978-1492651130.

When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us:  . . .

"When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us : Letting Go of Their Problems, Loving Them Anyway, and Getting on with Our Lives” by Jane Adams. Free Press 2003. ISBN: 0743232801

When Parents Hurt:  . . .

"When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along” by Joshua Coleman, Ph.D., Published in July 2007. Joshua Coleman has also offered a series of webinars for parents who are trying to cope with estrangement. He has a website.

Why Is It Always About You? . . .

"Why Is It Always About You? Saving Yourself from the Narcissists in Your Life” by Sandy Hotchkiss, LCSW. The Free Press, 2002.
Like Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder wreaks havoc on relationships and families. People who are pathologically narcissistic tend to cut off anyone who says anything that they perceive as being critical. If they don't cut off a relationship, they still tend to be so difficult that they wear poorly on friends and relatives.
Sometimes I think that we would do well to offer classes in personality disorders in public schools so that we had some clue as to the crazymaking personalities that we are fated to encounter when we grow up and find ourselves wondering who is the crazy person – us or the person who seems to be working at driving us crazy?

You’re Wearing That?:  . . .

You’re Wearing That? : Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation”
Good book that gives insight into how words are heard with more than their literal meaning by mothers and daughters when they talk with each other. Gives examples of how problems arise and suggestions for ways of avoiding conflict.
The author is a linguist, not a therapist, so take note of that when reading the book. Tannen's interest is in words rather than in providing answers to solving relationship problems. But this is a fascinating read and does give a different take on words and the relationships between mothers and daughters. I've read this one and would recommend it.

Movies

Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Baby: Clint Eastwood as Frankie Dunn. Hilary Swank as Maggie Fitzgerald. Morgan Freeman as Scrap. Boxing trainer Frankie Dunn's estrangement from his daughter is a wound that never heals. He hopes for reconciliation but his letters go unread.
Maggie is a 30 year old woman who dreams of succeeding at being a boxer. Nothing else in her life gives her any hope or sustenance. Her family is a wasteland of manipulative mindbogglingly selfish people who have no love to offer. Frankie and Maggie bond to form a relationship that gives both something that they can't get elsewhere. This is a love story of a different sort.

He Got Game

He Got Game: A Spike Lee Film. A central issue is the father son relationship/estrangement.

Nothing in Common

Nothing in Common”: Jackie Gleason as the father and Tom Hanks as the son. Classified as a comedy but is also a tragedy. It is a story of the very difficult relationship between a father and a son. The link goes to a 1986 review by Roger Ebert.
Currently the movie is available on Amazon.

Magnolia

Magnolia”: Very intense movie released in 1999. Estrangement as a human condition is one theme. There are two sets of relationships that are estranged: a father/son relationship and a father/daughter relationship. The link above is to, what I consider, an astonishingly great review by Roger Ebert in 2008.
The movie is available for streaming on several platforms as shown on the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page.

Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment”: Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, and Jack Nicholson. A tragic story about the difficult relationship between a mother and daughter. 1983.

The Limey

"The Limey", 1999. A story about a father and ex-con who has been estranged from his daughter. After he learns that she has been murdered, he travels from Britain to the U.S. to investigate and avenge her murder.

The Hours

The Hours”, 2003. A day in the lives of 3 women. An estrangement plays a pivotal role in the film. Actors include Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Toni Colette, and Claire Danes.

Daughter of Suicide

Daughter of Suicide”, An HBO documentary film by Dempsey Rice whose mother, Bonnie Rice, committed suicide in 1987. Bonnie Rice and her two daughters were estranged from each other. The film premiered on HBO in 2000.

In Her Shoes

In Her Shoes". 2005 Movie with Cameron Diaz, Shirley Maclaine, and Toni Collette. All these sisters have in common is their shoe size. A lightweight examination of the underpinnings of estrangement. Enjoyable if not deep.
Cameron Diaz is always fun. Maclaine portrays getting older with dignity and elegance. Toni Collette is the example of the overly responsible good girl who needs to let her hair down. Cameron is the one who can't keep her hair up ... metaphorically.

Memories of Me

Memories of Me”, 1988. The son, Abbie, is played by Billy Crystal, Abe, the father, by Alan King. The son is a hardworking surgeon who has problems with his heart in more than one way. He hasn't been able to sustain a close relationship with anyone. Then he suffers a heart attack which makes him go and visit the wisecracking actor father with whom he has had a distant and difficult relationship. Abe has played more than his share of parts as an extra. His behavior as a father left something to be desired. This movie is poignant and alternately funny and sad.

From the movie:
Alan King: "It's like old times. You and me talking about our problems."
Billy Crystal: "We never talked about our problems!"
Alan King: "Why talk about problems?"

Dolores Claiborne

Dolores Claiborne” 1995. Based on a Stephen King book, the movie is about whether the curmudgeonly mother, played by Kathy Bates, killed her abusive husband years ago and later her employer, Vera Donovan, or did bad accidents follow her around.

Central to the story is her distant relationship with her daughter, Salina, who shows up for the first time after 15 years when Vera is found dead with Dolores standing over her with a marble rolling pin in her hands. Salina has been estranged from Dolores and is bitter, angry, exasperated and unbelieving of her mother's explanation of what happened.

In one scene the mother describes her husband's brutal physical abuse of her to Salina who wants to remember her father as a loving respectable dad and resists any facts that don't fit in with that image. Salina responds to the tale of abuse with, "What do you want me to say? Thanks for sharing?" and then, "I'm sorry, Mother. Sometimes being a bitch is the only thing a woman has to hold on to." A statement echoed years previously in almost the same words by Dolores' employer, Vera Donovan, when told by Dolores of the husband's abuse of both Dolores and Salina prior to his death.

Margot at the Wedding

"Margot at the Wedding” . . . "is as raw and painful as real life," from a Dec. 14, 2007 review by Jay Stone on the OttawaCitizen.com. I hope to see this movie. Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh play the roles of sisters estranged.

The Darjeeling Limited

The Darjeeling Limited
From Rotten Tomatoes:
" Estranged brothers Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) reunite for a train trip across India. The siblings have not spoken in over a year, ever since their father passed away. Francis is recovering from a motorcycle accident, Peter cannot cope with his wife's pregnancy, and Jack cannot get over his ex-lover. The brothers fall into old patterns of behavior as Francis reveals the real reason for the reunion: to visit their mother in a Himalayan convent."

A Play

Buried Child

Buried Child”, 2002. A Sam Shepard play. Reviewed by Bryce Hallett in the Sept. 27, 2002 Sydney Morning Herald. 

A quote from Hallett's review (which is linked above): 
 'We're just this incredible race of strangers,'" the playwright once remarked, and it is this hard, telling insight which can be seen to constantly drive his explorations of family, identity and independence. The fragile, perhaps illusory, family ties evoked by Shepard are just as likely to set people apart as bind them."