Posts Tagged ‘detailed characters’

A Girl Named Zippy

June 15, 2010

A Girl Named Zippy Book Cover

Author: Kimmel, Haven

Title: A Girl Named Zippy

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

Publication Date: 2001

Geographical Setting: Mooreland, Indiana

Time Period: 1960s – 1970s

Number of Pages: 275

Series: No

Plot Summary:

Through a series of vignettes, Haven Kimmel narrates her childhood in Mooreland, Indiana. Every short chapter is preceded by a photograph from her childhood. Each amusing anecdote focuses on Zippy’s family, friends, beloved animals, or small town life. Although she didn’t speak until she was three years old, Zippy has an abundance of recollections which she shares with the reader, telling her story through the voice of a young Zippy Jarvis.

Subject Headings: Family and Relationships — Growing Up, Memoirs — Growing Up, Adult books for young adults, Childhood and youth, Girls, Biography, Small town life, Autobiographies (Adult literature)

Appeal: dialogue-focused, compelling, engaging, engrossing, detailed characters, multiple points of view, reflective, well-drawn characters, first-person narrative, nostalgic, character-centered, family-centered, thought provoking, domestic, flashbacks, layered, contemporary, small-town, contemplative, haunting, introspective, psychological, engaging, conversational, natural, simple, unpretentious

Three Terms that best describe this book: Family-Centered, Reflective, Engaging

Similar Authors and Works:

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Buffalo Gal: A Memoir by Laura Pedersen. This is a fanciful memoir about the “neighborhood wild child” that takes place in the 1970s.  This work follows Pedersen from her days as the impulsive and undisciplined neighborhood kid to a 21 year old millionaire with a seat on the American Stock Exchange. (engrossing, engaging, nostalgic, reflective)

Holy Roller: Growing up in the Church of Knock Down Drag Out, or, How I Stopped Loving a Blue-Eyed Jesus by Diane Wilson. This is a memoir of a Pentecostal Holy Roller/shrimper’s daughter growing up along the Texas Gulf Coast in the 1950s. (family-centered, character-centered, nostalgic, simple, unpretentious)

The Only Girl in the Car: a Memoir by Kathy Dobie.  A coming-of-age memoir of a Catholic girl growing up in a small Connecticut town in the 1960s. At 14 and longing for a role other than the “good daughter,” Dobie gets caught up in the wrong crowd at the local teen center. Dobie eventually leads herself away from self-destruction with the help of her English teacher. (Compelling, character-centered, small-town, thought-provoking, haunting)

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Windchill Summer, by Norris Church Mailer. A coming-of-age novel about Cherry, a young girl in her last year of college. The story is set in the summer of 1969 in Sweet Valley Arkansas. It is during this summer that Cherry falls in love and begins to question her commonplace life. This book is similar to Zippy in that it is about small-town life during the 1960s. (Partially told in the first-person narrative, character-centered, contemplative)

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen: A Novel by Susan Gregg Gilmore. Catherine Grace Cline is the daughter of a Baptist preacher growing up in Ringgold, GA in the 1970s. She daydreams of leaving her small town for the big city of Atlanta. In time, she does make it to Atlanta, only to come home again because of a tragedy. Ultimately, Catherine Grace decides that Ringgold is not such a bad place after all. Like Zippy, this coming-of-age story is set during the seventies in a small town. (engaging, first-person narrative, character-centered, simple language)

A Brief History of the Flood by Jean Harfenist. Lillian Anderson’s coming-of-age tale is told in 11 short stories, much like chapters of a novel. The story takes place during the 1960s in (imagined) rural Sioux County Acorn Lake, Minnesota. Lillian’s parents are eccentric characters – a manic-depressive mother and an alcoholic father. Lillian is an unforgettable character who does not choose maturity, it is forced upon her. This book is similar to Zippy in that it takes place in a small town during the 1960s. (first-person narrative, simple and natural language, nostalgic, unpretentious, family-centered)

Name: Laona Fleischer

Family Album

June 7, 2010

Family Album by Penelope Lively

Author: Lively, Penelope

Title: Family Album

Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 2009

Geographical Setting: Outside of London

Time Period: Alternates between the 1970s and Present Day

Series: No

Plot Summary:

Family Album is the story of a large middle-class family that was raised outside of London on the family estate (Allersmead). Alison, mother of six grown children, lives at the estate with her husband, the family’s long time au-pair, and off and on, her eldest child, Paul. Resolute in decision to be the perfect mother and homemaker, Alison devoted her life to the upbringing of her children and care of the family home. Now grown, her six children (all childless) revisit the family home. Told through flashbacks, using first and third person narratives, each of the adult children ponders his/her childhood along with a long hidden family secret.

Subject Headings: Middle class families, Family relationships, Family secrets, Growing up, Brothers and sisters, Adult children, Mother and adult child, Family, Domestic fiction, English fiction — 21st century

Appeal: dialogue-focused, compelling, engrossing, detailed characters, multiple points of view, reflective, well-drawn characters, first- and third-person narrative, nostalgic, character-centered, family-centered, thought provoking, domestic, flashbacks, layered, literary, thought-provoking, contemporary, small-town, contemplative, haunting, introspective, psychological, engaging, conversational, natural, simple, unpretentious

Three Terms that best describe this book: Family-Centered, Reflective, Thought provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Forward from here: leaving middle age and other unexpected adventures by Reeve Lindbergh. This is a collection of autobiographical essays in which Lindbergh ponders her everyday life, including family secrets. This compilation is similar to Family Album in that it is family-centered and discusses family secrets.

My three fathers: and the elegant deceptions of my mother, Susan Mary Alsop by William S. Patten. Patten’s memoir narrates his true life tale of growing up among the fortunate in Europe as the son of expatriates. When he was 12 years old, his father, William Patten, dies and his mother remarries the well-known columnist Joe Alsop. At 47, Bill learns that his birth father was not William Patten, but the English diplomat, Duff Cooper. This memoir chronicles Patten’s youth as well as his search for self as an adult. This book is similar to Family Album in that it is family-centered, thought-provoking, narrated in the first-person and discusses family secrets.

Catch me before I fall by Rosie Childs, Diane Taylor. This book chronicles the life of Clare Malone (now Rosie Childs), the black child of a white mother and white stepfather.  As a young child, Clare was shamed as proof of her married mother’s sexual indiscretion. Her story takes us to the orphanage where she and her five blond siblings spent a significant part of their childhood. Along the way to adulthood, she experiences bulimia, self-mutilation, nervous breakdowns, and homelessness. This memoir is described by School Library Journal as written “with simple eloquence and neither sentimentality nor self-pity.” This memoir is similar to Family Album in that there is a family secret where one parent had a child outside of the marriage. The book also takes place in 20th century England.

Who Do You Think You Are?: A Memoir by Alyse Myers. At the age of 11, Myers’ father dies. This memoir delves into Myers’ damaged relationship with her mother following the death of her beloved father. Myers’ memoir examines the emotional and weighty revelations that arise after her mother’s death. This book is similar to Family Album in that it is about family secrets, dysfunctional families, and is domestic, haunting, and contemplative.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Art of Mending: a novel by Elizabeth Berg. At the annual family reunion, Laura Bartone and her brother Steve must deal with their sister Caroline’s shocking accusations about their mother. Each of the three adult siblings must learn to reconcile their own memories of childhood family life with what might have been much more harsh/less pleasant circumstances. This book is similar to Family Album in that it has multiple points of view, is both character- and family-centered, is both domestic and psychological fiction, about dysfunctional families, contemporary, and thought-provoking.

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright. When three adult children arrive home for parents’ funeral, they happen upon a box of letters composed by their father and to their mother. These weekly letters (The “Wednesday letters”) recreate the history of their parents’ marriage, including an overwhelming family secret. This book is similar to Family Album in that it is about imperfect families, family relationships and secrets, and is family-centered. It is also thought-provoking, contemplative and nostalgic.

Susannah’s Garden by Debbie Macomber. Susannah Nelson, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of two, revisits her youth when she returns home to care for her mentally-ailing mother. She develops a keen interest in finding her high-school boyfriend Jake, who inexplicably vanished around the same time that Susannah’s brother died.  While she unearths the truth behind Jake’s disappearance and her brother’s death, Susannah also confronts her bitter feelings towards her late father. This book is similar to Family Album in that it is family-centered psychological fiction with family secrets. It is also set in a contemporary small-town. Like the characters in Family Album, Susannah is introspective and spends a lot of time thinking about her past.

Name: Laona Fleischer

The Lost Language of Cranes

June 24, 2009

Author: David Leavitt

Title: The Lost Language of Cranes

Genre: Gay/Lesbian Fiction

Number of Pages: 308 p.

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: current/ contemporary

Plot Summary: An engaging story of a family, parents Owen and Rose and son Philip each struggling with their own life issues. Rose and Owen have lived in the same middle-class apartment for their entire lives together. The building is now turning co-op and they are threatened with the loss of their apartment and the upheaval of their quiet lives. Their son Philip, is a 25 year old gay man who has a tremendous fear of coming out to his parents. Meanwhile Owen is going through his own personal crisis of his full realization of his attraction to men despite his marriage to his wife. Emotionally charged and written candidly, Leavitt describes the resentment and fears which Rose feels, the distress and confusion which Own suffers from, and the steamy yet painful relationships Philip experiences as he matures.

Subject Headings: Gay men – Fiction, Coming out – Fiction, Parent and child relationship – Fiction, Gay husband – Fiction, Husband and wife – Fiction, New York City – Fiction

Appeal Terms: detailed characters, engaging, introspective, realistic, family-centered, open-ended, candid, edgy, emotionally charged, contemplative, deliberate, sexually explicit

Three Words to Best Describe the Book: candid, emotionally charged, and introspective

Similar Author and Works:

Dancing on Glass by Susan Taylor Chehak. A tale of violence and homosexuality, married man,  Bader Von Vetchen, falls for a young man. His wife, Katherine Craig responds desperately and changes their lives forever.

Tommy’s Tale by Alan Cumming. The story of Tommy in his struggle to resist settling down and his desire to become a father. Written in narrative form with interwoven obscenities, cultural references, and even fairy tales.

The Way Things Ought to Be by Gregory Hilton. A coming of age story of a young gay man’s difficulty in finding himself in the 1970’s.

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 by George Chauncey. In New York, during the turn of the century, this book maps out the complex world of gay society before WWII.

The Gay Metropolis: 1940-1996 by Charles Kaiser. Beginning with the sexual openness following the end of WWII, this book gives the account of modern gay life in New York City. The focus is on the gay rights movement and the daily private and personal lives of homosexual men and women.

Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories edited by Patricia Merla. This compilation of twenty-eight most admired gay writers tell the tales of their personal lives across the years 1949 to 1995.