Posts Tagged ‘heart breaking’

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

September 28, 2011

Title:  The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

Author:  Udall, Brady

Publication Date:  2001

Number of Pages:  423

Genre:  Western

Geographical Setting:  The American West (mostly Arizona and Utah)

Time Period:  Modern setting, but otherwise unspecified date.  Spans first approximately thirty years of Edgar’s life.

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  At the age of seven, Edgar Presley Mint has his head run over by a mail truck.  Half Apache and half white, the story of Edgar Mint begins with his miraculous recovery in the hospital.  Abandoned by his alcoholic mother and crazed grandmother who give Edgar up for dead, Edgar is orphaned and sent to live at an Apache reservation school for delinquents with an old and distant uncle.  At the school, Edgar’s otherworldliness, introversion, and inability to socially mingle immediately type him as an outcast.  Armed with a typewriter and a dum-dum loving friend named Cecil, Edgar learns how to survive against the cruelty of children and the ignorance of adults while never losing his innocent yet perceptive outlook on life.  Edgar is then discovered and converted to the Mormon religion by two missionaries and is sent to live with a foster family in Utah, where he again struggles with the concepts of family, love, pain, and growing up.  The story is told from Edgar’s point of view, using alternating first-person and third-person perspectives.  The novel chronicles the life of Edgar from age seven until approximately age thirty, focusing on the years from 7-15 as Edgar encounters hardship after hardship, yet never completely losing faith that the miracle of his survival happened for a reason.  This is a beautifully written, picaresque novel that depicts the very unique character of Edgar Mint, a boy who doesn’t seem to fit anywhere yet tries with all his might to find the one place that he does.  Winner of the Spur Award (best novel of the American West) in 2002, it is thought-provoking and revealing, addressing real issues of Native Americans in the contemporary west, and emotionally engages the reader with Edgar’s quest from page one.

Subject Headings:  Apache Indians; Arizona; Head wounds and injuries; orphans; foster home care; boys; coming-of-age; Mormons; alcohol and drug abuse; families and family dysfunction; reservation schools; hospitals.

Appeal:  character centered, coming-of-age story, single point of view, linear storyline, emotionally engaging, moderately paced, picaresque, Dickensian storytelling, funny, heart-breaking, detailed setting, conversational, multicultural, quirky character, thoughtful, hopeful.

3 Terms that best describe this book: Emotionally engaging, funny, thoughtful

3 Relevant Authors and Works (Fiction): The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (also features young, disabled protagonist on a journey to self-discovery).  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (adventures of a young boy growing up in a specific racial climate). The Misadventures of Silk and Shakespeare by Winfred Blevins (coming-of-age story that takes place in the West, humorous tone like certain parts in Edgar)

3 Relevant Authors and Works (Nonfiction):  Addie  by Mary Lee Settle (a nonfiction memoir that recounts the childhood of a young girl in the Kahawha Valley of West Virginia during the Great Depression); Oh what a slaughter: massacres in the American West, 1846-1890 by Larry McMurtry (recounts the slaughter of Native Americans in the West, authored by prolific and well-respected Western writer); Sitting Bull by Bill Yenne (documents the life of Sitting Bull, starting from his youth).

Name:  Rebecca C.

Ask Me No Questions

August 25, 2011

Author: Budhos, Marina

Title: Ask Me No Questions

Genre: Multicultural

Publication Date: 2006


Number of Pages: 157 p.

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: Post 9/11/2001

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: A young Muslim Bangledeshi girl named Nadira and her family have lived in America on expired visas for years working, living, and looking for a way to become United States citizens. Then the events of 9/11 occur and suddenly Muslims are considered dangerous and Nadira’s family is under threat from sides. Ask Me No Questions tells the tale of a girl and her family as they face threats of deportation; increased scrutiny from neighbors and the law. This novel provides an intimate and alternate perspective on the United States “war on terror” through the eyes of 14 year-old.

Subject Headings: Freedom, Patriot Act, war on terror, 9/11, Islam, immigration,

Appeal: short chapters, emotional, inspirational, memorable characters, multicultural, , Issue-oriented, relaxed pace, heartwarming, heart-breaking, detailed settings, dramatic, contemporary.

3 terms that best describe this book: Timely, controversial, informative.

3 Relevant Non Fiction Works and Authors

1.)  They were strong and good by Robert Lawson – The author retales how his grandparents helped build the United States

2.) The Ancient Ship by Wei ZhangRecounting the trial and tribulations of three intertwined families over three generations.


3.) Five thousand days like this one: an American family history  by Jane Brox – The history of a family of New England farmers.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1.) Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier – An Indian tennager in the U.S. deals with non- acceptane from both Indian and American peers.

2.)  The absolutely true tales of a part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie – A young Native American leaves his reservation’s troubled high school to attend a majority caucasian high school.

3.) Journey of the Sparrows by Fran Leeper BussBrother and sister refugees are smuggled into the United States from El Salvador and attempt to start a life in Chicago.


Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

August 1, 2011

Author:  Franklin, Tom

TitleCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Genre:  Mystery, Psychological Suspense, Thriller

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  288

Geographical Setting:  Rural Mississippi

Time Period:  Present Day

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: In the late 1970s in Chabot, MS, two boys come together for a short yet pivotal time in their lives to share a boyhood friendship that neither can acknowledge.  Larry is white, odd and bookish, the son of lower middle class parents.  Silas is black and poor, the son of a single mom moved from Chicago, to a cabin on land owned by Larry’s father.   For one summer, they roam the woods together, and Larry teaches Silas about hunting and fishing.  Larry finally has the friend his mother has prayed for.  When school starts, the lines of segregation are drawn and the boys lead separate lives.  Larry becomes ostracized as the class nerd, while Silas, who excels at baseball, becomes the high school star.  One night Larry takes a popular local girl on a date and she disappears without a trace.  Although never formally accused, Larry, with his peculiar ways is presumed guilty.  Twenty-five years pass.  “Scary Larry” leads a solitary existence shunned by the local townspeople, and Silas, who went off to school, has returned to Chabot as the local police constable.  Their paths cross again when another girl goes missing and all eyes turn to Larry as the obvious suspect.  It is up to Silas to investigate Larry’s involvement,  and in the process, he is forced to remember boyhood secrets he has tried so hard to forget.   Crooked Letter Crooked Letter is a beautifully written, poignant story told in flashbacks.  Although there is a mystery element in the plot, the book is really a heart wrenching character study of Larry and Silas, and how actions and circumstances in their past have had devastating effects on their lives. It is the story of friendship, loneliness, racism, good and evil, and having the courage to make things right no matter what the cost.   The author, Tom Franklin, is a master at setting the mood in this book, which reeks of southern Gothic, wasted lives, small town tragedies and decaying secrets.  He moves the story along at a languid, southern pace, but introduces intriguing plot elements and characters that make it hard to put the book down.  The language is wonderfully authentic, and the southern dialogue perfectly fits the story.  Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, with its powerful theme of forgiveness and redemption, is a book that will resonate with the reader long after the story has ended.

Subject Headings:  Mississippi, segregation, murder mystery, psychological fiction, police investigations, rural South, Nero migration, racial issues, southern fiction

Appeal:  Foreshadowing, flashbacks, poignant, heart breaking, touching, atmospheric, emotional, slow paced, rich character development, complex plot, suspenseful, compelling, thought provoking, engaging, hopeful.

3 terms that best describe this book:  Atmospheric, poignant, thought provoking

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:  Melton A. McLaurin, Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South, authors account of his boyhood in the 1950s set in rural South; Ann Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi, autobiography of author’s struggle to overcome racism in rural South during the 1950s and 1960s;  James C. Cobb, The Most Southern Place on Earth:  The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity, a historic and economic account of life on the Mississippi Delta.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:  Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides, a southern family coming to grips with secrets from their past; Dennis Lehane, Mystic River , psychological suspense also dealing with a murder and someone falsely accused; Stuart Woods, Chiefs, a murder mystery set in the rural South.

Name:  Chris Murray