Posts Tagged ‘coming of age’

The Graveyard Book

October 31, 2012

The Graveyard Book

Author: Neil Gaiman

Title: The Graveyard Book

Genre: Horror, Fantasy Fiction

Publication Date: October 2008

Number of Pages: 312 pgs.

Geographical Setting: Cemetery grounds in Great Britain

Time Period: Present Day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: When he was just a baby Nobody Owen’s family was murdered by the man called Jack. Fortunately for Nobody he escaped this man and crawled to safety to the cemetery up the hill. There Mr. and Mrs. Owen found the boy and with the help of his new guardian Silas the boy would grow up protected in the graveyard. He is given “the freedom of the graveyard” which allows him to communicate with the dead and the living. He even learns skills of fading, dream walking, and the languages of nonhuman being. Over the years however curiosity got the best of him and he finds himself on many adventures, both in and out of the graveyard. Some involving witches, ghouls, ghosts, werewolves, snake like creatures and more. Even attending a school for the living doesn’t go as planned for Nobody. Throughout his youth, the man named Jack is in constant pursuit of the boy and wishes to finish what he started years ago. He will not stop until his job is complete.

This coming of age story will appeal to those in their teen years as well as any adult with an imagination. Darkly written at times with a chilling atmosphere, this book is sure to please those who like suspense novels. Witty and humorous at times, this book will ease those who don’t want to be “scared to death” but enjoy a darker tales.

Subject Headings: Orphan boys, Cemeteries, Ghosts, Supernatural, Werewolves, Dead, Boys

Appeal: Orphan boy, Graveyard, Murder, Ghosts, Suspenseful, Friendships, Creepy, Witty, Fast Paced, Bittersweet, Coming of age, Scary

Three appeal terms that best describe this book: Coming of Age, Scary, Ghosts

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Weird encounters: true tales of haunted places (Sep 2010)
This book tells the stories of over 75 hauntings and supernatural experiences found throughout the United States. If you liked the idea of a boy growing up in a graveyard and at times haunting people you may like to read about “real” haunting in the US.
Similarities: Ghosts, Graveyards, Scary

2. Orphan Train Rider: One boy’s true story (1996) by Andrea Warren
Tells the story of one mans trip on the orphan train and how over 200,000 abandoned children were relocated to new homes between 1854-1929.
Similarities: Orphan boy, Coming of age
3. Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England ghost town (2009) by Elyssa East
Tells the story of a ghost town in Massachusetts. Where murder took place and witches still hold ceremonies in the woods surrounding the town to this day. People claim sightings of pirates and ghosts.
Similarities: Ghosts, Murder, WitchesThree Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:1. Ghostgirl (Aug 2008) by Tonya Hurley
If you liked reading about a boy growing up in a graveyard, you may like reading about a girl who goes to a high school for the dead. She lives among the dead but wishes to go to the school dance with the living and her crush. Switching roles from a live person living with the dead to a dead person wishing to be alive again will give readers a chance at a different view on the meaning of life and death. Similarities: Ghosts, Fantasy, Death2. Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children (Jun 2011) by Ransom Riggs
If you liked reading about a boy with some unusual abilities then you’ll enjoy Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children. In this book a young boy goes to visit the orphanage his grandfather was sent to in order to escape the Nazi’s. Upon arriving he finds that the children from his grandfathers stories are still there and are in danger and so is he.
Similarities: Orphans, Suspenseful, Supernatural, Creepy

3. The replacement (Sep 2010)
Mackie, a changeling, replaced a human baby when he was just a baby. Every seven years the inhabitants of the underground dwelling take a human baby as a sacrifice and leave in its place a changeling. Now with another baby gone, Mackie finds himself going back to his place of birth and setting things right, before the townspeople find out who he really is.
Similarities: Creepy, Fantasy, Supernatural

Name: Madison Gailus

Tomorrow, When the War Began

October 3, 2012

Tomorrow, When the War Began cover

Author: John Marsden

Genre: Adventure

Publication Date: 1993

Number of Pages: 277

Geographical Setting: Australia, present day (1990s)

Series: The Tomorrow Series (book 1)

Plot Summary:  A group of teenagers blow off the town’s festivities to go camping in Hell.  After a relaxing week in the Australian bush, the group returns to the unimaginable: empty homes, spoiled food and dead dogs.  The book reads like the first in a series, giving ample time for a fully developed setting and character development before jumping into the thrilling plot.  The characters transform as their new bleak reality sets in.  Readers discover character growth and plot development through a single narrator’s point of view.  The book ends on a suspenseful note as the group decides how best to deal with the grave situation at hand.

Subject Headings: Resourcefulness in teenagers; Hiding; Imprisonment; Resourcefulness; Determination in teenagers; Determination (Personal quality); Guerrilla warfare; War; Survival; Teenagers – Australia; Wilderness areas — Australia

Appeal:  Action-packed; Builds in intensity; Suspenseful; Bleak; Compelling; Series characters; Introspective; Detailed setting; Accessible; Small-town; Episodic; Flawed; Emotionally-charged; Coming-of-age

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Compelling; Bleak; Emotionally-charged

Three fiction read-alikes:

Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Bleak, Emotionally intense, Compelling, Survival, Series)

Set in rural Pennsylvania, 16 year-old Miranda’s life changed in a blink of an eye as a meteor causes more trouble than scientists predicted.  Miranda and her family struggle to survive the Earth’s violent reaction to this event.

Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival by Joe Nobody (Survival, Action-packed, Series)

Set in 2015, a couple must learn to survive in an America that has fallen into a second Great Depression, and devastated by terror attacks resulting in governmental collapse.

Winter’s End by Jean-Claude Mourlevat (Compelling adventure story about teenagers set in other countries)

Set in an unnamed country, this dystopian story is about four teenagers daring escape from their prison-like boarding school.  The teenagers struggle for survival and quest for answers about their past, keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

Three related non-fiction titles:

The Time of the Rebels: Youth Resistance Movements and 21st Century Revolutions by Matthew Collin (Young adults, Resistance)

This book discusses the role youth movements played in taking down oppressive governments.

 Violent Politics: a History of Insurgency, Terrorism & Guerrilla war, from the American Revolution to Iraq by William R. Polk (guerrilla warfare and insurgency in several countries)

William Polk takes a global approach to the history of insurgency, terrorism & guerrilla warfare.

 Red Earth, Blue Sky: the Australian Outback by Margaret Rau (Australian Outback)

The story of Margaret Rau’s journey through the Australian Outback.

Name: Shira

Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0-22

April 18, 2012

Author: MariNaomi

Title: Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0-22

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 331

Geographical Setting: California

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:

This graphic novel is full of sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and often surprising stories from the authors life.  The stories, told in chronological order, follow MariNaomi’s love life from before she was born, starting with her parents story and ending when she is roughly 22 years old.  Some of the stories are short and sweet, while others are longer or more complicated. In addition to her stories of sex, love, and heartbreak, MariNaomi tells of her adolescence rebellion, getting kicked out of her house and running away several times throughout her youth.  She also tells of her experiments with drug use and sexuality. Almost anyone can relate to at least a few of the stories from Naomi’s life.  The black and white illustrations depict the stories well.

Subject Headings: MariNaomi, Young women – Identity, Mate selection for women, Women – Sexuality, Dating (Social customs), First sexual experience, Self-discovery in women, Women — Interpersonal relations

Appeals: touching, fast-paced, sexual, heartbreaking, candid, bittersweet, character-centered, self-discovery, sympathetic characters, funny, relatable, coming of age

3 Appeal terms to best describe book: fast-paced, touching, coming of age

Blankets: An Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson- In this coming of age, autobiographical graphic novel the author takes us through his adolescence.  Thompson describes the experience of falling in love for the first time as well as the power of sexual attraction and young love.

Talking to Girls about Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield- In this funny, upbeat coming of age novel the author describes his experiences trying to find love starting at the age of 13.  The book leads the reader all the way through to the author’s first apartment and real girlfriend with 80’s and 90’s music as a guide.

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel. This graphic tells of the love life of a diverse group of lesbian friends.  These funny, witty stories explore sexuality between women, which MariNaomi experiments with in Kiss & Tell.

Shortcoming by Adrian Tomine- This funny graphic novel follows a twenty something, Ben, as he looks for the perfect girl. Much like MariNaomi the story is told with humor and follows the life of a Japanese American in their quest for love.

Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross. This semi-autobiographical story follows Melissa as she enters high school. Experimenting with drugs, failing classes, and dealing with the opposite sex are just some of the subjects discussed in this coming of age graphic novel.

Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun. Korean teen Joon runs away from her home in Brooklyn at the age of 12. This novel follows her as she lives in homeless shelters, struggles with drug abuse, and puts herself in dangerous situations. MariNaomi also ran away and was kicked out of her home several times as a teenager.

American Born Chinese

April 18, 2012

Author: Yang, Gene Luen

Title: American Born Chinese

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 233

Geographical Setting: America

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: This book holds three stories of characters that are struggling with acceptance in their society. The Monkey King is a character of old Chinese fable, a deity who mastered the art of kung fu and wants to be more than just a monkey. Jin Wang is the son of two foreign Chinese parents and just moved from Chinatown to an “All-American” neighborhood. Jin Wang struggles as he tries to fit in and make friends. The last character is Danny. He is a blonde-haired kid who is popular, until his cousin Chin-Kee, a stereotypical Chinese character, shows up and ruins his life. These three stories are interrelated and as they unfold, readers learn what it is like to be an Asian American. This metaphorical story is full of thought-provoking storylines. This is a coming-of-age book that is funny, moving, and thoughtful.

Subject Headings: Chinese Americans Comic books, strips, etc.
Identity (Psychology) Comic books, strips, etc.
Schools Comic books, strips, etc.
Chinese Americans Fiction.
Identity Fiction.
Schools Fiction.
Cartoons and comics.
Graphic novels.

Appeal: fast-paced, thought-provoking, intricately-plotted, funny, metaphoric, moving, thoughtful, contemporary, realistic, inspirational, resolved ending, interrelated, character-driven, intricately plotted, engaging, and coming of age.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  thought-provoking, intricately-plotted, and funny

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Mar, M.Elaine – Paper Daughter: A Memoir (A life of a Chinese immigrant girl who copes with life in American as she struggles with society and family)

Garrison, Philip – Because I don’t have Wings: stories of Mexican immigrant life (Story of first generation Mexican immigrant as they cope with their life in the new land)

Felder, Leonard – Fitting In is Overrated: the survival guide for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider (A guide to help people deal with others making one feel like an outsider at work, in family, etc.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Clugston-Major, Chynna – Queen Bee (The main character, Haley, is a newly transferred student who is determined to be popular)

Lee, Marie G – Necessary Roughness (A 16-year old Korean boy who moves to Minnesota with his family now must deal with racism on the football team and his strict father)

Adoff, Jaime – Jimi & me (Keith James is a 12-year old of a mixed race. After his father’s death, he moves to a small town where he is not accepted because of his heritage)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Bento Box in the Heartland:  My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America by Linda Furiya – Asian-American experience, memoir, adult book for young adults, childhood memories, food, cultural identity, United States, racism, Midwest America, childhood struggles of trying to be accepted, conflicting feelings concerning her ethnicity, identity, and her parents’ arranged marriage.

The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming – graphic novel, adult book for young adults, biographical, China’s greatest magician, racism in Hollywood, Asians, Asian Americans, captivating, moving, triumphing over adversity.

Yellow:  Race in America Beyond Black and White by Frank H. Wu – history writing, Asian-American experience, racism, personal account of his own childhood experiences with racism and stereotypes of Asian-Americans, United States.

Name: Jun Yoon

Finding H.F.

April 11, 2012

Author: Julia Watts

Title: Finding H.F.

Genre: GLBTQ, YA

Publication Date: 2001

Number of pages: 165

Geographical Setting: Kentucky, Georgia, Florida

Time Period: Present day

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: H.F. is a sixteen your old girl who is living in Morgan, Kentucky and being raised by her grandma.  H.F.’s mother left her shortly after she was born and was never to be heard from again.  H.F. stands for ‘Heavenly Faith’, representing her Memaw’s hopes for her when she was born.  H.F. loves her devoutly Baptist Grandmother, but would not dare let Memaw know she is a lesbian.  After falling for Wendy, the new girl in school, H.F. is sure that an eternity of Memaw’s hell would be worth it to be with Wendy.  Wendy reciprocates H.F.’s feelings for her, but is not ready to accept who she is.  After one night together at Wendy’s house, Wendy tells H.F. to leave and forces her walk across town back to Memaw’s.

H.F. discovers a letter hidden in her Grandmother’s room one night that prompts her to take a road trip to Florida.  She drags along her best (and only) friend Bo.  Bo is an outcast at school and at home for being too effeminate and not living up to his dad’s expectations.  He may also be gay like H.F., but she can’t be sure.  Bo happens to also own an old beat-up Ford Escort.  Together they leave Kentucky for the first time in Bo’s old Ford.  On their way to Florida they make several stops in the towns and cities along the way.  The two friends discover how different and big the world is outside of small town Morgan, Kentucky.

Subject Headings: lesbian fiction, southern fiction, homelessness – youths, homophobia

Appeal: descriptive writing, the south, character centered, religion in the GLBTQ community, class distinctions, optimistic outlook, coming of age, romantic, road trips, lesbian relationships, alcoholism, bullying, self-discovery, adopted children, encouraging

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: coming of age, lesbian relationships, self-discovery

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Living at the Edge of the World: How I Survived in the Tunnels of Grand Central Station by Tina S. and Jamie Pastor Bolnick

This book is an autobiographical story of a teenage girl who is trying to survive homeless in the city.  This is similar to the story of the three homeless teenagers H.F. and Bo meet in Atlanta.

Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and its Consequences by Sarah Schulman

This nonfiction work outlines the cultural problem of the domestic abuse of gay and lesbian youth.  Homophobia in family members is a constant theme in Finding H.F..

Lifeguarding: A Memoir of Secrets, Swimming, and the South by Catherine McCall

This memoir is about the harsh family life of a lesbian girl growing up in Kentucky.  This story also deals with  alcoholism.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

This book is an award winning classic GLBQ YA novel.  Liza and Annie struggle with the consequences of homophobia in their schools and at home in New York.  This story also deals with class distinctions, as does Finding H.F.

Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monninger

This Ya novel is about two sixteen year old girls who go on a road trip west to save a horse who was scheduled to be euthanized.

Gravity by Leanne Lieberman

This coming of age story is about a teenage girl who struggles with being caught between her family’s Jewish religion and her own sexual orientation.

Name: Noel M.

Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood

November 30, 2011

Author: Marjane Satrapi

Title: Persepolis

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 153

Geographical Setting: Iran

Time Period: 1970s-1980s

Plot Summary: This graphic-novel memoir of Marjane Satrapi’s girlhood inIran during the Cultural Revolution contrasts the universality of the coming-of-age experience with the fear and chaos of life amid war and revolution. Through stark black-and-white illustrations, the hope, terror, and despair of life under the revolution and the daily growth of a bright young girl is conveyed with sensitivity and humor.

 Subject Headings: Iran, Cultural Revolution, Coming-of-Age Stories, Graphic Novels

 Appeal: character-centered, coming-of-age, humorous, atmospheric, thought-provoking, detailed setting, complex, multilayered, introspective

 3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Character-centered, complex, thought-provoking

 3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Reading Lolita in Tehran: a Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

This memoir of an English teacher in Tehran and her clandestine book group is a thought-provoking, character-centered, and atmospheric exploration of women’s lives and relationships with each other and with a country that they both love and fear.

Saffron Sky: a Life Between Iran and America by Gelareh Asayesh

Switching between the present, when the author is a mother living in the United States, and the past, when she was a girl in Iran, this memoir explores the growth of one woman as she navigates the complexities of existing within and between cultures.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

This coming-of-age memoir of a boy growing up in Wisconsin contemplatively explores American culture, first love, religion, and the difficulties of being different. Like Persepolis, this memoir is told in graphic novel format.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

A coming-of-age novel about an aspiring cartoonist that includes his drawings, this is the story of a boy trapped between two worlds: that of the reservation on which he lives, and the all-white high school he attends.  Bittersweet, thought-provoking, and introspective, this novel will appeal to fans of the tone of Persepolis.

American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Another coming-of-age graphic novel, this series of interwoven stories featuring the Monkey King, a sitcom character named Chin-Kee, and the high-school life of the narrator shows the difficulties of coming of age and self-acceptance of a teenager caught between cultures.

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

This graphic novel features two cynical, urban teenage girls in eight interconnected stories. Although less introspective than Persepolis, this is the coming-of-age story of two teens whose cynicism and intelligence will remind readers of Marjane.

Name: Shelley

Special Topics In Calamity Physics

October 10, 2011

Author: Marisha Pessl

Title: Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Genre: Mystery, Literary fiction, Coming-of-age

Publication Date:  2006

Number of Discs: 17 sound discs, 22hrs

Geographical Setting: Stockton, N.C.

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary:  This is a darkly funny coming-of-age story centers on the character of teenager Blue Van Meer.  Told in the first person narrative, after her mother dies in a car accident while Blue is in kindergarten, Blue travels with her eccentric, highly intelligent, and womanizing widower father Gareth for ten years.  Blue and her father travel to different obscure college towns, where her father is a visiting lecturer for no more than one semester until he and Blue are off to another college in another town.  While this does nothing for Blue’s social life, she is highly attached to her father and, in his company, has developed a clever, deadpan, and astute outlook on life, as well as an impressive lexicon of all things literary, political, philosophical, and scientific.  In Blue’s final year of high school, her father decides to finally settle down in Stockton, N.C. for the entire school year, where Blue is enrolled in the private St. Gallway school of Stockton.  In no time, Blue finds herself courted by an intriguing faculty member, Hannah Schneider, and is reluctantly accepted into her group of student followers: Milton, Charles, Leulah and Jade, each of whom seems to be hiding something about their past.  Blue is slowly accepted by this group of high school royalty known as the Bluebloods, but things soon begin to unravel when a man dies mysteriously at Hannah’s house and, eventually, when Hannah herself is found dead.  It is up to the clever and resourceful Blue to piece together the puzzle of this intricately forged murder mystery.  Cleverly told in a format that models a college syllabus (the chapters are named after everything from Othello to Paradise Lost to The Big Sleep), including a final examination at the end, this novel is an eclectic and intellectual murder mystery, full of subtle literary allusions and a slight undertone of menace or mystery pervades throughout.  Most importantly, however, is the coming of age story of extremely likable Blue van Meer, who, while being too intelligent for her own good, struggles with the classic themes of love, acceptance, and identity.

Subject Headings: Teenagers – Death, Teenage girls, Teachers – Death, College teachers, Father and daughter, Eccentrics and eccentricities, Cliques, Identity (Psychology), Moving to a new city, Murder, Murder investigation

Appeal: quirky, eccentric, dark, funny, mysterious, literary, postmodern, sincere, coming-of-age, suspenseful, character driven, intricate, detailed, engaging, leisurely paced.

 3 appeal terms that best describe this book: intricate, quirky, dark

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1) Donna Tartt, The Secret History.  Pessl’s novel is termed the postmodern version of Tartt’s book, which is about a young man who upon his enrollment at a small Vermont college finds himself embraced by a clique of five young people led by a professor.  This group also, however, holds a dark secret that the young man slowly uncovers.  On NoveList, Shauna Griffin says, “Subtle suspense and building dread, as well as flawless prose, characterize both The Secret History and Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Each features a cast of brilliant but self-indulgent young people, whose secrets–and guilt–eventually come to light.”

2) Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, Lolita.  Pessl directly references Nabokov on several occasions in Special Topics, and has professed great admiration for the author personally.  Lolita is referenced frequently, and readers of Special Topics may want to pick this up simply because it was mentioned so many times.  This novel is much more shocking and tragic, however, than Pessl’s novel.

3) Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex.  This award-winning coming-of-age novel is very different from the plot of Special Topics, but the authors build the story the same way and create their eccentric and likable main protagonists the same way.  If you were a fan of Blue van Meer, you would also be a fan of Middlesex’s Calliope.

3 Relevant Nonfiction Works

1) Jay Robert Nash, Among the Missing: An Anecdotal History of Missing Persons from 1800 to the Present.  Books on missing persons are frequently discussed in the novel, and a reader may be curious enough to want to pick up material on the subject.

2) Maggie De Vries, Missing Sarah: A Vancouver Woman Remembers Her Vanished Sister.  Same reason as the above, but this one has more in common with the theme of Hannah and her mysterious past and weird fascination with missing people.

3) Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia.  Without giving away too much, this book would interest those who wish to learn about the political organization that comes up at the end of the novel.

Name: Rebecca C.

Butcher’s Crossing

September 28, 2011

Author: John Edward Williams

Title: Butcher’s Crossing

Genre: Western / Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1960

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: Kansas / Colorado

Time Period: 1870s

Plot Summary: Naïve college boy Will Andrews flees his Harvard education for the wide open spaces of the West, where he hopes to find himself. In the Kansas frontier town of Butcher’s Crossing, Andrews hooks up with a hunter named Miller and ends up bankrolling a buffalo hunting expedition to Colorado. Andrews, Miller and the two other men in their crew endure an arduous journey, from survival mode in the wilderness to the ugly process of killing and skinning buffalo. After a point it becomes clear that hunting buffalo is not just an occupation for Miller, but a dangerous obsession—and Andrews is thrown into personal turmoil as his romantic notions of the West and nature are shattered by the grim reality of their journey.

Subject Headings: Western stories; Revisionist westerns; Buffalo hunting; Frontier life; Coming-of-age stories; Man vs. nature

Appeal: austere, cinematic, coming-of-age, descriptive, detailed, evocative, gritty, intense, physical, realistic, relaxed pace, strong sense of place, vivid

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: descriptive, gritty, physical

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Border and the Buffalo by John R. Cook [Memoir by an actual buffalo hunter that gives a detailed, first-hand account of the buffalo slaughter that occurred in the western territories during this time, as well as other descriptions of frontier life]

2) Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer [Idealistic young intellectual tries to brave the wilderness]

3) The Buffalo Hunters: The Story of the Hide Men by Mari Sandoz [Densely packed history of plains buffalo hunters]

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Morning River by W. Michael Gear [Both a western and a coming-of-age story; about a naïve Harvard idealist who faces gritty hardship in the west; realistic, descriptive, detailed]

2) Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy [Revisionist western, also about a massacre (of Indians rather than Buffalo) and the harshness of wilderness; gritty, intense, descriptive; Butcher’s Crossing often cited as precursor to this novel]

3) Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry [Western about an arduous journey; relaxed pace, gritty, descriptive]

Name: Brian W.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

April 13, 2011 Gene Luen Yang

Title: American Born Chinese

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: September 2006

Number of Pages: 233

Geographical Setting: American suburbs

Time Period: Present day 21st century

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:

This tells the story of three different characters:  the Monkey King, Jin Wang and Chin-Kee.  Yang takes these three different tales of struggle and acceptance and weaves them together in a seamless and unexpected way that produces a surprising ending that leaves you thinking.  First, we meet the Monkey King, who is one of the oldest and most famous of Chinese fables.  Here Yang tells the story of the Monkey King and his wish to be respected and revered by all.  In order for him to garner respect and acceptance, he changes his appearance from a monkey to a man.  Next, we meet Jin Yang, a young boy whose family moves from San Francisco’s Chinatown to a community where he is one of two Asian Americans in his class.  His story is also one of struggling to blend in and be accepted and finding his place in a mostly white community.  Finally, we meet Danny, an all-American blue-eyed high school jock and his Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee.  Chin-Kee represents the ultimate negative stereotype of Chinese people, and Danny is so ashamed of Chin-Kee’s lack of Americana that he feels forced to change schools every year to evade the embarrassment of being associated with Chin-Kee.  As these three stories unfold, we learn about the struggle of what it means to be Asian in America.  This metaphorical story is a poignant, humorous and authentic look at overt and covert racism in America.

Subject Headings: Chinese-Americans, Identity (Psychology), Misfits (Persons), Racism, School, Social Acceptance, Stereotypes (Social psychology), Chinese folklore, Monkey King, Adult books for young adults.

Appeal: character-driven, intricately plotted, funny, engaging, thoughtful, fast-paced, moving, authentic, episodic, resolved ending, contemporary, metaphorical, easy, coming of age.

3 Terms that best describe this book: thought-provoking, authentic, metaphorical.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Bento Box in the Heartland:  My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America by Linda Furiya – Asian-American experience, memoir, adult book for young adults, childhood memories, food, cultural identity, United States, racism, Midwest America, childhood struggles of trying to be accepted, conflicting feelings concerning her ethnicity, identity, and her parents’ arranged marriage.

The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming – graphic novel, adult book for young adults, biographical, China’s greatest magician, racism in Hollywood, Asians, Asian Americans, captivating, moving, triumphing over adversity.

Yellow:  Race in America Beyond Black and White by Frank H. Wu – history writing, Asian-American experience, racism, personal account of his own childhood experiences with racism and stereotypes of Asian-Americans, United States.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Monkey:  A Folk-Tale of China by Wu Cheng’en – Chinese fiction, folklore of the monkey king, quests, friendship, magic and morals.

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine – graphic novel, Japanese-Americans, Korean-Americans, race relations, self-discovery in men, California, friendship, interracial dating, reflective, honest, racial politics, struggles with race issues, relationship issues, and coming of age.

Yellow: Stories by Don Lee – Asian-Americans, United States, California, collection of short stories, multiple points of view, final story brings together all of the topics and struggles each character has dealt with, racism.

Name: Jeannine Kropski

The Graveyard Book

June 21, 2010

The Graveyard Book (Audio) Cover

Author:  Neil Gaiman (narrated by the author)

TitleThe Graveyard Book (unabridged audio)

Genre:  Fantasy, Mystery, Horror, YA fiction

Publication Date:  2003

Length: 7 CDs; 7.75 hours

Geographical Setting:  Great Britain

Time Period:  present day

Plot Summary:

On a dark, quiet evening a cold and efficient killer wielding a razor sharp knife- a man called ‘Jack’- is making quick work of his assignment: to murder a family of four in a small British town. All is going according to plan until Jack finds that the youngest, an 18 month-old boy, has left his crib and toddled off, out into the night. Following his keen sense of smell, Jack stalks up the hill and into the graveyard, looking for the child that got away. But Mr. and Mrs. Owens, deceased couple and graveyard residents, find the boy first. Sensing the distress of the boy’s recently dead mother, the Owenses hide and protect him, and the man called Jack leaves to look elsewhere.  With the narrow escape, a prophesy unfolds.

The ghost couple adopts the child and Silas, a mysterious character neither ghost or human, agrees to be his guardian. They name him “Nobody Owens,” or Bod for short. Bod is given “the freedom of the graveyard” and grows up walking a line between the worlds of the living and the dead. He befriends ghosts, witches, and werewolves, and learns the skills of haunting. For the most part Bod is safe in the graveyard, but he can’t avoid the outside world forever. The man named Jack is still looking for him, and will not rest until his mission is complete.

Neil Gaiman’s narration delights, frightens, and engrosses, making the listener laugh while at the same time expressing the danger lurking. He effortlessly embodies characters of varying ages and historical periods, from ancient vengeful spirits and ghouls, to a sleek white haired businessman and teenager with a Scottish brogue. Each disk ends with a cliffhanger, leaving the reader clamoring for the next chapter.

Subject Headings:  Boy orphans, Supernatural, Cemeteries, Orphan Boys, Ghosts, Werewolves, Dead, Occult fiction, Fantasy fiction

Appeal: creepy setting, haunting, witty, dark, quirky characters, multi-generational, humorous, magical, adventurous, foreboding, heroic, coming-of-age, climactic ending

3 terms that best describes this book: humorous, creepy, coming-of-age adventure

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Name: Amy