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In her captivating book, Maud Newton underlines just how much trouble ancestors can be. There’s the challenge of identifying them, the uncomfortable truths they might reveal about our origins, and even the difficulties that accompany dealing with certain prickly family members. Newton grew up fixated on the stories she heard about her own—the grandfather who’d been married 13 times, the mental illness that plagued her maternal lines—and decided to research her genealogy as an adult. She captures this journey in Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation, which reckons with her messy family history. Along the way, she asks thought-provoking questions about identity and the impacts of intergenerational trauma. —Annabel Gutterman

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