Posts Tagged ‘family-centered’

Tender At The Bone

March 28, 2012

Author: Ruth Reichel

Title: Tender At The Bone

Genre: Nonfiction, Food Writing, Memoir

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 282

Geographical Setting: New York, Montreal, California

Time Period: 1960’s-1970’s.

Plot Summary: Future food critic and editor of Gourmet magazine, Ruth Reichel, writes a memoir about growing up as a budding gourmet and daughter of The Queen of Mold, a woman with an iron stomach who routinely poisons her guests. Reichel writes lovingly about attending a French school in Montreal, having a wild phase in high school, and living in an organic, vegetarian commune in her 20’s. All of her stories relate to her education in good food, such as her best friend’s father who taught her the wonders of French cooking, or the cook who taught her how to make her father’s favorite weiner schnitzel. Every chapter is punctuated with a recipe, which is good because when Reichel describes food, she goes into mouth-watering detail.

Subject Headings: Cooking, Growing Up, Food Habits, Recipes

Appeal: eccentric, intriguing, family-centered, details of cooking, lush, descriptive, colorful, engaging, witty.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Eccentric, lush, witty.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

When Julie Powell is about to have a nervous break down from her drab life, she saves herself by taking on a project where she cooks every single recipe from Julia Child’s “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” in a year and blogging about it. Powell’s writing is sharp and witty, and also ends every chapter with a recipe.

Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste by Ayun Halliday

Although this is a similar food memoir in which Ayun Halliday writes about her connection to food from an early age and how her tastes expanded while growing up, Halliday is the polar opposite of Reichel. Halliday was an extremely picky eater as a child who didn’t discover her love of food until her first bite of spanikopita, when she discovered her innate love of ethnic cuisine. Halliday’s own cooking is more similar to Reichel’s mother, as Halliday also has an iron stomach and thinks nothing of eating something that fell on the ground, much to the chagrin of her family.

French Lessons: Adventures With Knife, Fork And Corkscrew by Peter Mayle

Mayle takes the reader on a culinary tour of France, in which he imparts the French’s enthusiasm for truly good food in a charming and lighthearted way.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

At nine-years-old Rose Edelstein discovers that when she bites into food, she can taste the emotions of the cook who made it. Her mother’s lemon cake tastes of “despair and desperation.”

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Tita De La Garza is the youngest daughter in her family and forbidden to marry because she has to take care of her mother. She falls in love with someone anyway, and he falls for her from the magical way that she cooks. He marries her sister to stay close to her, and they keep their passion at a low ebb until circumstances throw them together again.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

This book follows eight students who gather for cooking lessons at Lillian’s Kitchen every Monday. The stories of what they really want is woven in between sumptuous descriptions of the food that they make.

Name: Jessica DiMaio

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

March 26, 2012

Author: Chua, Amy

Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 237

Geographical Setting: America

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: A story of a Chinese born American mother exercising extreme parenting. Amy Chua is married to a Caucasian husband and has two daughters. She raises them the “Chinese” way because she believes the Western way of parenting would not prepare them enough for the future. She has her children playing violin and piano, and makes them work hard to become number one. A few things she lists in her book that she does not allow her daughters to do are:

  • Have a playdate
  • Be in a school play
  • Complain about not being in a school play
  • Not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • Play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • Not play the piano or violin

This book shows the difference between the stereotypical way of Eastern and Western parenting. This book is dramatic, full of bittersweet relationships between mother and daughters, and is also heartwarming. This is a memoir of a competitive, prideful Chinese mother raising her children the “Chinese” way, and should not be taken as a sort of parenting guide.

Subject Headings:Chua, Amy.
Mothers United States Biography.
Chinese American women Biography.
Mothers and daughters China.
Mothers and daughters United States.

Appeal: moderately-paced, bittersweet, compassionate, dramatic, heartwarming, moving, inspiring, intriguing, realistic, sympathetic, family-centered, academic, ambitious, prideful, funny, and well-written.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Bittersweet, dramatic, and heartwarming

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Tung, May Pao-may – Chinese Americans and Their Immigrant Parents: conflict, identity, and values (Book about dilemmas the younger and older Chinese generations must face in American Society as well as the differences between the two cultures)

Loh, Sandra Tsing – Aliens in America (A struggle of a girl and her parents, a German mother and a Chinese father, in America)

Mah, Adeline Yen – Falling Leaves: the true story of an unwanted Chinese daughter (The journey of a young Chinese girl as she searches for acceptance, love, and understanding)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Bates, Judy Fong – Midnight at the Dragon Café (Story of a Chinese mother and daughter living in Ontario in the 1950s, trying to forge their lives in a foreign land)

Carter, Forrest – The Education of Little Tree (Childhood remembrance of an orphaned American Indian boy living in Tennessee with his Cherokee grandparents)

Tan, Amy – The Joy Luck Club (Story of two generations of Chinese American women and their daughters)

Name: Jun Yoon

Shanghai Girls

February 15, 2012

Author: See, Lisa

Title: Shanghai Girls

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 314

Geographical Setting: China, United States (Los Angeles)

Time Period: 1937-1957

Series: 1st of sequel (Dreams of Joy)

Plot Summary:

Sisters, Pearl and May live a care-free and enjoyable life of modeling and luxuries wealthier Chinese were afforded in the 1930s until one day their lives were changed forever.  Forced into arranged marriages with two brothers, the girls are forced to flee war-torn China and head to America to be with their husbands.  Life in America is hard for the women, forced to live with and work for in-laws that appear to be cruel.  The women must rely on each other through the many struggles they face. This book explores complicated family relationships and the difficulties of immigration, especially for Chinese in the 1950s.

Subject Headings: Chinese-American women, Immigrants-United States, The Thirties (20th century), Sisters, Chinese-American immigrants, Father and daughter, Husband and wife, Family secrets, Betrayal, Loyalty.

Appeal: leisurely paced, bittersweet, moving, emotionally charged, well-developed characters, strong secondary character, character-centered, unresolved ending, historical, descriptive writing, sobering, family-centered

3 Appeal terms to best describe book: moving, character-centered, family-centered

3 Fiction read-alikes:

Paradise Alley, by Kevin Baker. This book was chosen because it is about immigrants, and suspicion being cast upon them. This book is also historical fiction, and explores racism, and parts of history that aren’t often discussed.

Away, by Amy Bloom. This was chosen because it deals with issues of immigration in the early 20th century.  It also deals with a mothers love for her daughter.  It also has rich, fully developed characters, and is read at a relaxed pace.

The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. This book is similar in that it is about women immigrants to the U.S.  and it deals with stereotyping and skepticism during the war. It also explores the hardships of raising children in the U.S. with a culture very different from yours. Like Shanghai Girls, it is character driven, historical, moving, and sobering.

3 Non-fiction read-alikes:

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family, by Mary S. Lovell.  This book explores the lives and relationships between 6 sisters who take different paths in life.

Girlfriends: Invisible Bonds, Enduring Ties, by Carmen Renee Barry. This book explores the loyalty and sometimes complicated relationships between women friends. The friendship between May and Pearl is an important theme in the book.

The Rice Groom: Growing up Chinese-American: From Number Two Son to Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Ben Fong-Torres.  This book is about growing up Chinese in Oakland’s Chinatown in the 1950s, and facing discrimination.

Fun Home. A Family Tragicomic.

November 30, 2011

Author: Bechdel, Alison.

Title:  Fun Home. A Family Tragicomic. 

 Genre:  Autobiographical Graphic Novel; Nonfiction.

Publication Date: 2006

Number of pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, United States.

Time period: Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: In this autobiographical graphic novel, Alison Bechdel, an author of a long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, draws a darkly funny and emotionally complex picture of her childhood and her coming-out experiences. The central part of this graphic novel focuses on the author’s loving yet ambivalent relationship with his father—a small-town closeted homosexual, a teacher, a funeral-home owner, and an obsessive interior decorator.  The tone of the story ranges from outrageously funny, especially when describing her father’s obsession with house decor, flowers and fashion, to darkly disturbing, when recalling his inappropriate relationships with male students and the effect of his behavior on the author’s mother. The prose is simple, expressive and often filled with references to literary classics, and the art, with its traditional blue, black and white panels, integrates beautifully into a graphically and textually powerful tale of a family marked by love, sadness, repression but also redemption.  For any skeptics of graphic novels, Fun Home should be an example of this format’s potential for expression, beauty and literary value.

Subject Headings: Graphic Novels; Memoir; Coming-Out-Story; Sexual Orientations; Family and Relationships; 1960’s Small Town–Pennsylvania.

Appeal: heartbreaking, darkly funny, thought-provoking, engaging, literary, disturbing, poignant, character-driven, reflective, psychologically complex, moving, witty, uneasy, well-drawn, candid, sympathetic, sexually explicit, family-centered, small-town setting.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: heartbreaking, witty, and literary.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi: A compelling and darkly funny tale of an Iranian girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution. Similarly to Fun Home, it is an autobiographical, character-driven, and textually and visually powerful graphic novel.

2) Epileptic by David B: In this moving graphic novel, the author describes his real-life experiences of growing up with an epileptic brother and how it affected his decision to become a cartoonist.

3) Blankets: an Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson: An autobiographical graphic novel about brothers growing up in a strict, evangelical family and struggling with rivalry, love and doubt.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: the Beauty Supply District by Ben Katchor.  A collection of witty, nostalgic and character-driven graphic strips picturing the experience of Julius Knipl, a real estate photographer, and other mid-century Jewish characters.

2) The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger: A graphic story of a woman who enters a bookmobile that contains every book she has ever read. Like Bechdel’s story, it is character-driven, literary, reflective and stylistically complex

3) Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine:  This graphic novels tells a story of Ben Tanaka, a not entirely sympathetic, twenty-something American-Japanese, searching for his identity and a place in the world by testing sexual, cultural, philosophical and political waters of the contemporary America.

Megan Rosol

Mortal Groove

November 16, 2011

Author: Ellen Hart

Title: The Mortal Groove: A Jane Lawless Mystery

Genre: GLBT mystery stories; Mystery stories

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 358

Geographical Setting: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Time Period: Current

Series: Jane Lawless Mysteries, Book 15

Plot Summary:    Jane Lawless is a Minnesota restaurateur who maintains very close relationships with her friends and her family.  In this book of the series, Jane’s father is running for governor, and family secrets, as well as the secrets of those involved in his campaign threaten the campaign’s success, as well as the personal well-being of many of the characters.  Many of the characters in this book have secrets, the least of which is their sexuality.  Jane and her sidekick Cordelia investigate the people working with her father after the assault of one of their friends. This takes them back to a murder around the time of the Vietnam war. Jane’s investigation results in the kidnapping of her brother and she takes it upon herself to try to save him.  In the meantime, Cordelia is trying to regain custody of her niece, and Jane’s brother is trying to save his marriage by searching for his wives’ baby, given up for adoption at birth.  This multi-layered story offers resolution of most story lines at the end of the book, while creating new issues, perhaps to be resolved in the next book.

Subject Headings:  Candidates for public office; Cold cases (Criminal investigation); Fathers; Lawless, Jane; Lesbians; Murder investigation; Restaurateurs; Secrets; Thorn, Cordelia; Women detectives

Appeal: memorable, suspenseful, fast-paced, entertaining, multi-layered, secretive, witty, strong secondary characters, family-centered, thoughtful, bittersweet, elegant

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: well-developed characters, subtle, engaging

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

 Inseparable: Desire between Women in Literature by Emma Donoghue

This book discusses the prescense and evolution of women in love in literature. This scholarly work delves into the portrayal of lesbians in classic  and contemporary literature as well as the prevalence of lesbians in crime fiction.

The Safe Sea of Women by Bonnie Zimmerman

This Lamanalysis of lesbian fiction and short stories between 1969-1989 discusses the portrayal of lesbians in fiction set against a historical background.  This book is for anyone who is unfamiliar with the genre (Amazon.com)

Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabel-Rouser by Rita Mae Brown

This conversational, engaging and witty autobiography of this mystery writer chronicles her  eccentric family as well as her love interests, and is written in a funny tone.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Report for Murder: A Lindsay Gordon Mysteryby Val McDermid

This is the first book in the series, featuring an amateur sleuth.  This character is the U.K.’s first lesbian detective (Amazon.com) and has a sidekick, also named Cordelia and a loyal following of friends and family.  While grittier than Mortal Groove, this book has its intricate plotting.

Lucky in the Corner by Carol Anshaw

This work of domestic fiction revolves around a mother and daughter, dealing with issues of the mother’s sexuality and the mother-daughter relationship. This book has strong secondary characters that are well-developed.  Even though, this book deals with social issues in more depth, it does so with wit and a sense of humor that is present in the Mortal Groove.

Blue Plate Special by Abagail Padgett

This book series, Blue McCarron mysteries, features the main character, Blue who is a social psychologist, who is hired by the police department to help solve a murder. This story follows Blue’s new relationship with her psychiatrist partner, Roxie, and includes a cast of funny, idiosyncratic characters (Novelist).  This also is a very suspenseful story with a series of red herrings, similar to the story in the Mortal Groove.

Name:Cheryl

Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir

November 8, 2011

Author: Fatima Bhutto

Title: Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir

Genre: Biography, World History

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 470

Geographical Setting: Pakistan

Time Period: 1933-present

Series (If applicable):
n/a

Plot Summary: The Bhutto family is a politically powerful yet tragic Pakistani family. Fatima is only 14 years old when her father, a Member of Parliament of Pakistan, is murdered outside her family home in a controversial police encounter. Her father’s murder is just one of the many tragedies that haunt her family. Her grandfather, Zulkifar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s first freely elected Prime Minister, is overthrown in a coup d’état and executed under the military dictatorship in 1979. Her aunt, Benazir Bhutto,
twice elected and first female Prime Minister was assassinated in 2007. Fatima provides a candid account into her family’s history beginning as feudal landowners to powerful politicians. Fatima searches the globe for friends, acquaintances and others who knew her family to learn more about her family. Songs of Blood and Sword also provides a political history of Pakistan from its formation and independence to present day.

Subject Headings: Pakistan-politics and government, Bhutto family, assassinations, coup d’état, fathers and daughters, Muslim women, international relations

Appeal: Densely written, political, historical details, academic, introspective, candid, descriptive, family-centered, tragic, evocative, authoritative, intimate, dramatic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Political, densely written, candid

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1.Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an unexpected life by Queen Noor. Born into a distinguished Arab-American
family and raised among privilege, Lisa Halaby never dreamt she would become Queen of Jordan.  This is her journey as the wife of a moderate, Arab monarch and her new-found role in the political
limelight.  Like Fatima Bhutto, Queen Noor is a strong female who takes on an unexpected political role in an Islamic country.

2.Daughters of the East by Benazir Bhutto. The autobiography of Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister. It is the dramatic story of Bhutto’s upbringing, her ties to the tumultuous political history of her country, and her triumph of becoming one of the most powerful, influential world leaders. Fatima Bhutto’s aunt’s autobiography provides more memoirs of the political family.

3.Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven. Provides an account on 21st Century Pakistan
including the history, politics, environment issues, and government of the country. Pakistan has an important role in Asia with its relationship with the West and fighting against terror, as the most powerful and strongest army with a nuclear power in the region, and a burgeoning population. For those who want to learn more about present day Pakistan.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1.A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif. Hanif reimagines the conspiracies and coincidences that led to the plane crash that killed dictator General Zia ul-Hag, the man who orchestrated the coup d’état and execution of Fatima’s grandfather, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

2.In Other Rooms, Other Wonders: Connected stories by Daniyal Mueenuddin. Stories of intertwined lives of landowners and their servants and managers, providing a vivid account of feudal Pakistan. The Bhutto’s have long been a prominent family due to their feudal landlord history so this book may provide more of an insight in feudalism in Pakistan.

3. Sadika’s Way: A Novel of Pakistan and America by Hina Haq. Sadika is forced into an arranged marriage to an American first-cousin; however Sadika is picked over for her younger sister to become the man’s wife. Sadika’s failed marriage ruins her and her family’s reputation and her hopes of finding a suitable husband. Sadika chooses to travel to U.S. alone in hopes of escaping the regimented gender roles of her homeland. This first novel provides an insight in expectations of Pakistani women and their culture.

Name: Noelle Swanson

 

The Other Wes Moore

August 8, 2011

Author: Wes Moore

Title: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

Genre: Nonfiction; African American; Biography, Autobiography and Memoir

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 233 (including a 45-page resource guide)

Geographical Setting: primarily Baltimore, Maryland, and the Bronx, New York

Time Period: 1982-2000

Plot Summary: Before writing this book, Wes Moore had been haunted for years by the idea of a man from his neighborhood, with his name, whose path started out so similar to his own, yet ended up widely diverging. Born just a couple of years apart, both were raised by single mothers in the inner city; both had ready access to the drug culture, early run-ins with police, and trouble in school; both had numerous turning points and second chances. The author emerged as a Rhodes Scholar, White House Fellow, Wall Street investment professional, and decorated Afghanistan war veteran. The other Wes Moore is serving a life sentence in a Maryland jail for his role in a botched jewelry store robbery that left an off-duty cop dead. Unable to shake questions about who the other Wes Moore was and how his life unfolded, the author reached out to him and began several years of correspondence with a goal of shedding light on how their various circumstances and choices made the difference in their lives. Through a series of interviews with Wes and other important people from both their lives, this book pieces together a chronological story that tells about more than just these two men. It looks at the broader social and cultural factors that impact inner-city youth, and tries to motivate readers to think differently about their lives, and have different expectations for others. At its close, it includes a call to action and a detailed resource guide of organizations that help youth across the country.

Subject Headings: Family and relationships – Growing up; African American teenage boys; Moore, Wes, 1978- – Childhood and youth; Moore, Wes, 1975- – Childhood and youth; Baltimore, Md. – Social conditions 20th century; Violence – Baltimore, Md.; Prisoners – Maryland; Turning points.

Appeal: Accessible, candid, contemplative, compelling, details of urban life, family-centered, haunting, insightful, issue-oriented, thought-provoking, well-researched

Three Words or Phrases Best Describing this Book: Character-driven, inspiring, heartbreaking

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges by Byron Pitts (Autobiography by 60 Minutes correspondent Pitts about overcoming obstacles such as poverty and functional illiteracy growing up in Baltimore; emphasis on family and faith.)

Stand by Me: The Risks and Rewards of Mentoring Today’s Youth by Jean E. Rhodes (Examination of mentoring programs that serve underprivileged youth, and analysis of what makes them effective; good for readers inspired by Wes Moore’s message about the importance of mentors and setting high expectations for at-risk youth.)

Brothers and Keepers: A Memoir by John Edgar Wideman (Memoir and social history examining why the author was successful while his brother ended up in jail for murder; similar themes and character-centered approach to uncovering where two paths diverged as in The Other Wes Moore.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
Chyna Black by Keisha Ervin (An urban coming-of-age tale in which the protagonist is an African American female caught up in St. Louis street life. Character-driven, and with many themes that overlap with The Other Wes Moore.)

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers (A young adult novel and National Book Award finalist that follows a 14-year-old in a juvenile detention center and his efforts to change his life’s direction. Gritty, moving, compelling and true-to-life.)

Between Brothers: A Novel by C. Kelly Robinson (Compelling story of four men at a historically black college and obstacles they still face, including funding for education, drug dealers, and other social issues from The Other Wes Moore. Character-centered and issue-oriented.)

By: Elaine

Magic Hour

August 3, 2011

Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah

Author: Hannah, Kristin

Title: Magic Hour

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 391

Geographical Setting: Olympia National Forest, Rain Valley Washington

Time Period: Present Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Julia Caites is a world famous child psychiatrist, reeling from claims of incompetence after one of her patients murders fellow students. Ellie Barton is Julia’s older sister and the Chief of Police in their sleepy little hometown of Rain Valley Washington. The sisters have an estranged relationship and neither has been lucky in love. One day, a little girl is discovered, filthy, starving, naked and cradling a wolf pup in downtown Rain Valley. She cannot speak and it appears that she cannot understand human communication. Ellie decides to call in her sister for help. With the assistance of a handsome male doctor with a mysterious past and a huge cast of small town regulars, Julia and Ellie must provide support and love to the little girl, whom they decide to call Alice. A heartwarming, page turner about the bonds of sisterly love and human relationships.

Subject Headings: Child psychologists-fiction; Northwest, Pacific-fiction; Psychological fiction

Appeal: Heartwarming, fast-paced, engrossing, hopeful, moving, sympathetic, domestic, resolved ending, family-centered, small-town, simple, homespun, reflective

3 terms that best describe this book: Heartwarming, moving, hopeful

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors: Lierow, Diane Dani’s Story: A Journey from Neglect to Love (tells the story of a feral child’s recovery, similar to Alice’s story); Dietrich, William The Final Forest: the Battle for the Last Great Trees of the Pacific Northwest (geography of the land, ecology of the region); Brinker, Nancy Promise Me: How A Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer (examines another relationship between sisters)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors: Smith, Haywood Ladies of the Lake (four sisters relationships); Thayer, Nancy Beachcombers (heartwarming story of three sisters); Hornug, Eva Dog Boy (tale of a feral child raised by a dog pack)

Meg Cichantk

The Flying Troutmans

August 1, 2011

A-The-Flying-Troutmans.jpg

Author: Miriam Toews

Title:  The Flying Troutmans

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 282

Geographical Setting:  Canada, Western United States

Time Period: 21st century, present day

Plot Summary: Hattie has dealt with her sister’s mental illness off and on for years, but she is pulled back into that orbit when her niece calls frantically needing her help to deal with her mom’s depression.  Hattie returns to Canada to help her niece and nephew, Thebes and Logan, after their mom is committed to a psych ward.  Unsure of how to be a single parent, Hattie decides the best course of action is to road trip with the kids in search of their father, who they haven’t seen in years.  The relationship that develops between Hattie and Thebes and Logan is heartwarming.  Toews takes quirky characters like Thebes, the purple-haired, hip-hop talking, 11 year old and the moody, silent 15 year old Logan and makes them real.  Toews strips them of their defense mechanisms and reveals them as scared kids who have had to grow up to fast.  The make-shift family that comes to life mile by mile on the road is endearing and inspiring.

Subject Headings: Dysfunctional families, Mental illness, Domestic fiction

Appeal: bittersweet, humorous, thoughtful, engaging, moving, sympathetic, endearing, family-centered, contemporary, steady pace

3 terms that best describe this book: character-driven, quirky, thought provoking

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression by Sally Brampton

Bramptontells of her own struggles with depression and alcoholism.  She offers an honest and heart-wrenching memoir of her time spent in and out of institutions and her experiences with various treatments.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

This is Walls’ memoir of growing up in a dysfunctional family with alcoholic parents.  It is a heart-breaking account of children who had to grow up too fast and take on responsibilities beyond their years.

The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer

This is another memoir of childhood, but not as dark as The Glass Castle.  Moehringer writes about his extended and eccentric family.  With an absent father and a busy mother, Moehringer forms a close relationship with his Uncle Charlie and spends much of his childhood at Charlie’s bar.  Like The Flying Troutmans, this is a story of growing up and finding family.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Loving Donovan by Bernice L. McFadden

This is a character-driven story of growing up in a dysfunctional family and trying to overcome life’s hurdles.

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall

Like The Flying Troutmans, this is a darkly humorous look at a troubled childhood with a quirky cast of heart-warming characters.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

This is another character-driven, heart-warming novel with a strong theme of family woven throughout the story.

Name: Katie LaFramboise


How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

April 20, 2011

Author: Julia Alvarez

Title: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

Genre: Latina; Women’s Lives; Audiobook

Publication Date: Written in 1991, Recorded in 2006

Duration: 8 discs/9.5 hours

Geographical Setting: Dominican Republic and New York City

Time Period: 1956-1989

Plot Summary: The experience of the Garcia family, particularly the four daughters, is told through a series of short stories in reverse chronological order.  The family emigrated from the Dominican Republic after the Trujillo Revolution and settled in New York City.  The first part of the novel is about the adult lives of the four daughters and focuses on their relationships with men.  The second part is about the experience of recent immigrants in New York and the difficulties associated with assimilation.  The final third is about the political tension that the Garcia find themselves involved in and their subsequent emigration.

Subject Headings: Dominican-American Fiction; Immigrant Experience; Coming-of-Age; Women’s Lives and Relationships; Domestic Fiction

Appeal: deliberate, relaxed, compassionate, earnest, homespun, moving, multiple points of view, realistic, sympathetic, character-centered, family-centered, episodic, chatty, issue-oriented, authentic

3 terms that best describe this book: compassionate, family-centered, and episodic
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Militarization of Culture in the Dominican Republic, from the Captains General to General Trujillo by Valentina Paguero – An historical look at the emergence of military rule in the Dominican Republic leading to Trujillo’s dictatorship, which led to the Garcia’s emigration.

Hispanic Immigrant Identity: Political Allegiance vs. Cultural Preference by George I. Monsivais – An examination of the identity issues that Hispanic immigrants face, similar to those that the Garcia girls struggle with in Alvarez’s work.

Sister Knot: Why We Fight, Why We’re Jealous, and Why We’ll Love Each Other No Matter What by Terri Apter – A study of the relationships that exist between sisters with sections on empathy, jealousy, and identity incorporating various perspectives.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

America Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood by Marie Arana – The coming to terms with a dual heritage and intimate portrayal of family members is reminiscent of Alvarez’s work.

True Colors by Kristin Hannah – The story of three sisters who are raised by their status-conscience father as they mature to adulthood. The sibling relationships are similar to the Garcia girls.

Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham – Four generations of the Stassos family are chronicled in this novel of identity.

-Mike Monahan