Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes” as Want to Read:
Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  788 ratings  ·  166 reviews
A debut middle grade novel about throwing things out -- and letting people in. Family Game Night tackles a tough issue with a light, accessible touch and writing that sparkles with heart.

Annabelle has a secret . . . a secret so big she won't allow friends within five miles of her home. Her mom collects things. Their house is overflowing with stuff. It gives Annabelle's sis
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 28th 2017 by Scholastic Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  788 ratings  ·  166 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes
Such a light and fun read!! I picked it up since it is a 2018-19 Washington Battle of the Books books. I loved it 4.5 stars!!
Corabel Shofner
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: swanky-17s
I wasn't ready for this book. The title made me think it would be a slap-stick goof. Boy was I wrong. I realized by the end of the second chapter that this book, while humorous, was a dead-on study of a highly dysfunctional family that loves each other deeply. Annabelle's mother is a hoarder, which involves many of the same problems as other addictive behaviors. Hoarding can be as damaging as alcoholism or gambling and it affects the entire family, each in different ways.
And this is where Mar
Jen Petro-Roy
I loved this book! What a pitch-perfect middle grade voice. I so felt for Annabelle, dealing with her hoarder mother, avoidant father, friends, and a crush, while figuring out how or if to let people in.
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Jun 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who sees themselves in Annabelle’s situation and wants to change things.
I wanted to read this book for very personal reasons; I grew up with a hoarder for a mother. I related so well to the young female protagonist, because she lived in a house that the author could well have been describing as mine in the 70’s. Annabelle’s room was the only clean room in her house, as was mine; I used to call it “my oasis of cleanliness.” I remember my mother getting angry when I cleaned my room and bathroom weekly. She claimed I was doing it to make her seem sloppy. Like Annabelle ...more
All families have secrets, but seventh grader Annabelle Balog is particularly embarrassed by hers. Her mother is a hoarder, and the house is filled to the brim with her mother's collections, various items procured at yard sales and online, as well as towering stacks of newspapers that necessitate tricky navigation from spot to spot. So fearful is Annabelle of what others will say about the state of her house that she keeps most of her friends at arm's length, and hasn't let anyone visit for the ...more
Dee Dee G
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never thought I could fall in love with a book about hoarding.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: second-childhood
This is about as well done as a middle grade book on this very painful topic could be, and it had me turning the pages fast. Not something I'll feel drawn to reread, though. ...more
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary E. Lambert's first novel is a Dostoevskian romp through family dysfunction that will teach the young (and remind the old) that the trials of life inevitably leave little chips in your soul, but those chips don't prevent you from being whole. Unless you try to split your soul into seven pieces hidden away in places relevant to your personal history in an unlikely bid to achieve immortality. That will prevent you from being whole.

A highly recommended book for introspective readers of all age
Eve beinguniquebooks
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Annabel, Leslie and Chad live with their parents in a house full of stuff hoarded by their mum.

Drew and Rae, her best friend and crush, Annabel tries to hide her house situation from them, her dad leaves early for a trip and then their grandma shows up causing them to have a family game night suddenly to fake everything is ok despite their dad leaving despairing about his wife's obsession.

However as the kids especially the sisters try to clear out their house of their mum's hoarded mess, Annabel
Jan 20, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
Annabelle has a strict policy of not letting her friends within five miles of her home. She is waging a one person battle against her mom's collections. Their house is overflowing with stuff. So when breakfast ends with a stack of newspapers crashing onto her sister, it sparks a catastrophic fight between their parents. Suddenly her mother is forced to change. But will she really change or is this just a reprieve?

Why I started this book: Need to read my library books and not just reread my favo
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: claire-2017
This was a fun but intense read. It was well written and explored a family's issues and how all parts of the family impact the system. Light hearted yet serious. I'm recommending for my almost 10 year old and anyone who likes a good family story. ...more
Jennifer Eckert
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic middle grade novel about hoarding; an issue rarely dealt with in children’s literature. This book is very well written and deals with the subject with empathy. You really feel the desperation of the kids in their attempts to deal with their mother’s behavior. And while the storyline isn’t wholly resolved, you’re left with a sense that it will be ok. The relationship between the two sisters is particularly sweet, and seeing the entire family pull together to overcome something those d ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: megan
This was just a random book Megan pulled off the shelf from the library, and we gave it a shot. I had no idea what it was about, but I actually loved it. I don't think everyone would give this 5 stars, but if you have ever personally dealt with a hoarder in your life, this was so potent and accurate. Also, the writing was so well done and made me laugh multiple times.

This is really more appropriate for a middle schooler to read since the main character is 13 or so and deals with some middle scho
Rebecca D.
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This story provides a masterful, compelling window into the struggles which face adolescents in a home destabilized by untreated mental illness. While the issues in Annabelle's family arise from her mother's compulsive hoarding, this story will resonate with anyone who has had to cope with the mental health crisis of a loved one.

Mary E. Lambert's voice is fresh and believable throughout the book. The story's hopeful conclusion provides a refreshing antidote to the bleak tone too often seen in r
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are so many things that kids find hard to talk about with anyone, including friends or family, and books/stories can be a way for them to relate, identify, and then hopefully, share. This book deals with a compulsive hoarder and her children and how the middle child, Annabelle deals with it. Her brother runs to work and friends and her sister has nightmares, but Annabelle trys to control her reactions and it slowly erodes her sense of safety and family.
An excellent book for late elementar
Jessica Rinker
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always appreciate a middle grade that wrangles with something deeper, and the author has a done a lovely job of portraying a fractured, but not destroyed, family with humor and everyday happenings like cute boys and best friends, exactly how life usually goes.
Carlie C
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
It was a good book, but it didn't blow my socks off. It was good and had a good story line, but the ending was a little weird. ...more
Wendy MacKnight
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
I've been waiting for this book for so long! Last night I started to read it and couldn't put it down so read it in one fell swoop. The story of Annabelle, whose family has become completely dysfunctional thanks to her hoarding mother is at turns heartbreaking, heartwarming and most of all, utterly believable. I kept turning the pages, desperate to see what would happen next. The characters are completely believable and their flaws painfully rendered. This is a story I hadn't read before in MG a ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was very good
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well boy oh boy, I sure was unprepared for this one. The cover of the copy I have is blue with a bubbly, bold title and some illustrated items (a phone, game, teddy bear, etc.) randomly around the title. I truly guessed this was Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library but revolving around family games at home.

Little did I know this book is about a girl whose mom is a hoarder, and how their family and her friendships are affected by this. I literally could not put this down... her relationship with
Hoarding isn't a topic I see in children's fiction. This book covered it with sensitivity and understanding and best yet, it was a terrific story. The characters were realistic and believable and the emotional side of hoarding was addressed with respect. This book will help children understand that things are always what they seem. I will recommend it! ...more
Ms. Yingling
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Annabelle's mother is a hoarder, and the house has gotten so bad that her father leaves early on an academic study trip early. Annabelle thinks that she and her siblings can handle things, but are very glad when Grandma Nora arrives. Nora is everything there mother is not-- energetic, organized, and stable. Nora tries to get the house cleaned up, but there are constant fights. Annabelle tries to get her younger sister, Leslie, to clean up her own room, sin
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Lambert, Mary E. Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes, 256 pages. Scholastic, FEB 2017. $17. Content: G (1 swear, 0 ‘f’).

It’s almost time for her father’s annual pilgrimage to teach in England, but after a huge family blow-up he takes off early. At first Annabelle thinks she can escape on vacation with her best friend, but she decides that she needs to stay, especially when she finds out that her younger sister has called their maternal grandmother. If living with her mother’s every growing
Sarah Sammis
It is what it is.

The last lingering memory of Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes is the "forbidden room." In Anabelle's family, it is the dining room. It has remained locked as the rest of the house has filled up. This detail reminded me so much of my grandmother who had a compulsion to collect things, a habit she picked up from her mother. Except, in both their cases, instead of the majority of their homes taking on collections, they kept their treasures behind locked doors. For my great-
Stephanie Elliot
Annabelle's house is in a shambles but it's always been this way. But the morning the pile of newspapers fall on her younger sister is a wake-up call for her. Something needs to happen. And something happens. Her father leaves. Her grandmother arrives. Mayhem ensues. You'll love this genuine story about what it takes to keep a family together despite big problems. Annabelle is trying to keep it all together but can she? And can she handle a first crush at the same time, and managing her friendsh ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a great read - Annabelle was such a relatable character, and I liked how Lambert took care to show different coping skills for difficult life situations through her and her siblings. Annabelle's inner life is rich and well described, and she's astute - in particular at reading people, especially her friends. The last five or so pages were not realistic (a true hoarder would never keep one room pristine just to do so - they might do it as a shrine to someone or something), but overall it ...more
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely love this novel. Wonderful characterization and such a unique voice for the main character.
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

More like 3.5/5, I think. I liked the story, but the ending is slightly disappointing.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-2020-read
This was one of the books I purchased for my kids home library. Honestly, I don't think that I even bothered to read the summary. It was part of the Scholastic warehouse sale and I picked it up because of the title, the cover looked fun and the price. Had I read the summary, I don't think I would have been sold on the story, but I think that we would have missed out.

Annabelle does not have what she would consider a normal family. Her mom has turn their home into a storage cavity for all sorts o
Jenny Ashby
Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Annabelle is just starting summer break and it appears that a really cute boy likes her so her life should be great, right? It would be, if not for her mother's hoarding problem and her father completely ignoring the problem. Annabelle can remember life before her mother started "collecting" things but now there are empty, molding milk jugs in the pantry, six foot high stacks of newspapers in the kitchen, paint cans in her brother's bedroom, a mountain of broken doll parts in her sister's room, ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Act (Click, #3)
  • Breakout
  • Not If I Can Help It
  • City of Secrets
  • Tune It Out
  • Chester and Gus
  • Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus
  • Just Like Jackie
  • Becoming Brianna
  • Falling Over Sideways
  • Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish
  • Joplin, Wishing
  • Roll with It
  • You Go First
  • Greetings from Witness Protection!
  • Ban This Book
  • Operation Frog Effect
  • Shine!
See similar books…
Mary E. Lambert has an MFA in children's writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a middle school English teacher in Tempe, Arizona.

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
17 likes · 1 comments