Posts Tagged ‘historical’

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

September 26, 2012

Author: Ernest J. Gaines

Title: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

Genre: Historical Fiction; African American Fiction

Publication Date: 1971

Number of Pages: 259

Geographical Setting: Various rural towns throughout the south, particularly Louisiana

Time Period: 1860s-1960s

Plot Summary: Miss Jane Pittman, originally named Ticey, was not even 13 when she was declared free by the emancipation proclamation and set out to Ohio towards the freedom of the north. While she never makes it to the north, she journeys throughout the south living on various plantations and farms as the wife of two different men and also as a single woman. This story spans nearly a century, as Miss Jane tells the story of her life from emancipation until the civil rights movement and her death in the 1960s. Written in 4 books in Miss Jane’s strong southern dialect, this compelling tale of a courageous woman’s survival through racial injustice is an important tale of American history that often makes it difficult to remember that this is in fact a work of fiction.

Subject Headings: African American Women, Race Relations, Leadership in Women, Slavery, Louisiana, Southern America, Civil Rights, Reconstruction, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century, Segregation, Plantation Life, Historical fiction, Centenarians

Appeal: Compelling, emotionally charged, character driven, complex language usage, flawed characters, inspiring characters, engaging prose, gritty, autobiographical, lyrical, nostalgic, realistic, insightful, candid, historical

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character driven, gritty, lyrical

Similar fiction authors and works:

Cooper, J. California. Some People, Other Places This novel follows a family through their struggles during the late 19th century through multiple generations. It has a similar bittersweet tone, is character driven, and follows a family through multiple generations.

Haley, Alex. Roots This story, like The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, spans generations of African American history. It has a similar tone and is family saga based, following one family through generations to reveal insights on the nature of humanity and the history of the family.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved This novel takes place post-civil war in Ohio, and chronicles the story of an escaped slave and her family. It is similarly lyrical and complex, and deals with family dramas and race relations, particularly regarding the African American community.

Similar nonfiction authors and works:

Delaney, Sarah Louise. Having Our Say A memoir comprised of interviews with Sadie and Bessie Delaney span nearly a century of African American history. The two women’s tales tell of the hardships and challenges faced by these two prominent African American women as they overcame racism and sexism to become successful strong women.

Lewis, David L. W.E.B. DuBois This definitive biography accounts W.E.B. DuBois’ early life and the defining moments that made him a pillar in the civil rights community, especially during the 1920s and 1930s.

Murray, Pauli. Song in a Weary Throat In this autobiographical account, Murray recounts her life as a child, her struggles in education to eventually become a lawyer, and her intense involvement in the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements of the 1960s.


April 18, 2012

Author: Sandra Cisneros

Title: Caramelo

Genre: Best-Selling Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 449

Geographical Setting: Chicago & Mexico City

Time Period: Modern

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:  Caramelo is a character-driven and descriptive novel about a young girl struggling to find herself amidst her huge family.  Celaya (“Lala”) Reyes, the youngest and only girl among seven children, is a young Mexican American living in Chicago.  Each year, her entire family drives from Chicago to Mexico City to visit her ‘Awful Grandmother.’  This year, Celaya is determined to figure out what makes her grandmother so awful.   She sets out to tell the tales of her ancestors, and understand exactly where she came from.

Weaving historical detail with lyrical prose, Cisneros has created a classic coming-of-age novel.   Mixing past with present, and filled with humor, sadness, and a lot of love, Caramelo is sure to please readers from all walks of life.

Subject Headings: Family Relationships; Girls; Grandmothers; Grandparent and child; Mexican-American families; Mexican- Americans; Mexicans in the United States; Women; Family Histories; Immigrants; Hispanics, Mexico City Mexico, Chicago Illinois

Appeal: Descriptive, Character-Driven, Lyrical, Reflective, Humorous, Moving, Atmospheric, Engaging, Intricate, Historical, Cultural, Well-Developed

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Character-Driven, Reflective, Atmospheric

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

From Out of the Shadows (by Vicki L Ruiz): This work is a comprehensive look at the history of Mexican-American women in the twentieth century.  Combining personal stories and interviews with her narrative, the author seeks to showcase how Mexican-American women went about finding their own place in America.  This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed Caramelo for its intricate look at the history of Mexican-American women in one family.

El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City (by John Ross): This is a vibrant and gritty history of Mexico City.  The author, a journalist who has inhabited Mexico City for over three decades, tells the history and secrets of the his favorite city.  This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed the location of Caramelo, and wish to know more about the historical background of the city where the majority of the novel took place.

Gabriel’s Fire: A Memoir (by Luis Gabriel Aguilera): This is a young man’s account of growing up an immigrant in the inner city of Chicago.  He touches on what it is like to grow up as a minority in America—all the while attempting to counter mainstream prejudices about Latino culture.  This work will appeal to readers who enjoyed reading about the life and struggles of immigrants living in America.

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

Chicano (by Richard Vasquez): This novel follows the lives of four generations of a Mexican-American family who immigrated to the United States as a result of the Mexican Revolution.  This work will appeal to those who enjoyed reading an intricate family history of Mexican immigrants.

All the Pretty Horses (by Cormac McCarthy): This novel is about a man who flees to Mexico with some companions after his grandfather’s death.  This novel will appeal to readers who enjoyed the writing style of Caramelo.  Both novels are character-driven, atmospheric, and lyrical.  In addition, both are considered adult books for young adults, as well as coming-of-age literary fiction.

Gilead (by Katherine Howe): In this novel, the main character discovers multiple family secrets when she is forced to go through the possessions in her late grandmother’s home.  She uses the various items she finds to weave a tale of her grandmother’s life (leading all the way back to the Salem Witch Trials!) Readers of Caramelo will likely enjoy this work because the plot of each novel revolves around characters uncovering family secrets, as well as retelling the pasts of their grandmothers.

Name: Katie Midgley

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.

The Hangman’s Daughter

October 12, 2011

Author: Oliver Potzsch

Title: The Hangman’s Daughter

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction

Publication Date: Published in Germany in 2008. Translated into English by Lee Chadeayne in 2010.

Number of Pages: 435

Geographical Setting: Bavaria (Modern-day Germany)

Time Period: 17th Century

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: In a small town in 17th century Bavaria, children are being murdered. Adding to the town’s panic, signs of witchcraft are found on each of the victims. With marauding soldiers left over from the Thirty Years’ War roaming the countryside and faced with the danger of famine or poverty from a bad crop year, the town council just wants this problem to go away. The town’s midwife, Martha Stechlin, is quickly arrested on suspicion of witchcraft and murder. Jakob Kuisl, as town executioner, is forced to torture Martha to make her confess to the murders. Jakob does not believe that Martha is either the murderer or a witch and finds himself with just days to find out who is really killing the children. With the help of his daughter, Magdalena and Simon, the town’s young doctor, who is also in love with Magdalena, Jakob, sets out on the dangerous mission of proving Martha’s innocence.

Subject Headings: Executioners, Witchcraft, Midwives, Bavaria, Thirty Years’ War

Appeal: Engrossing, Builds in intensity, Atmospheric, Dark, Suspenseful, Plot-driven, Well-drawn characters, Violent, Investigative, Historical details, Small-town, Well-researched

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Dark, Suspenseful, Historical details

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1) The History of Torture by Daniel P. Mannix. Readers can learn all they want to know about this gruesome aspect of human history.

2) Witchcraft: A History (Dark Histories Series) by P.G. Maxwell-Stuart. This is a scholarly yet readable look at witchcraft from Roman times to the present.

3) The Thirty Years’ War 1618-1648 (Essential Histories Series) by Richard Bonney. This book explains why the Thirty Years’ War was a turning point in the development of warfare and looks at the especially devastating effects of the war on civilians.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1) Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. Set in the twelfth century, this historical mystery is about a female medical student from Italy who comes to England to investigate the deaths of four children.

2) The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Though written in a challenging literary style, this historical mystery set in a medieval Italian monastery would appeal to fans of The Hangman’s Daughter.

3) The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry. This is a stand-alone historical mystery set in 13th-century Constantinople at the beginning of a Crusade.

Name: Elizabeth Allen

The Greatest Lies in History

August 8, 2011

Author: Canducci, Alexander

Title: The Greatest Lies in History

Genre: Non Fiction

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 335

Geographical Setting: Generally speaking, Earth and its immediate environs.

Time Period: Length and breadth of human history.

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: There is no plot to this book as it addresses, in a case by case manner, the many myths, falsehoods, and outright lies that have passed for history for centuries despite evidence to the contrary. The text is organized by the specific type of cover up, and is divided into four parts: “Spin & Doublespeak”, “Passing the Buck”, “Official Deceptions & Cover Ups”, and “Acting Under False Pretenses”. The pages of this book will shatter many of the legends that have acted as a substitute for history in elementary, high school, and even in some college classrooms.

Subject Headings: History, conspiracy, deception,

Appeal: Quick pace, short chapters, informative, written in the vernacular, accessible, humorous, witty, subversive, historical, well organized, stunning illustrations.

3 terms that best describe this book: Controversial, well researched, life changing.

3 Relevant Non Fiction Works and Authors

1.)  Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond – This book is rational scientific  explanations for why some societies are conquered by other and why some societies simply fail. Diamond looks directly at geographic, epidemiological data, and social phenomena as opposed to taking the essentialist view and attributing societal failure to the individual quality of the people who made up said civilizations.

2.) A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn – Another example of a history text that re-examines historical myth and seeks to replace it with social historical fact; or at the very least provide a “bottom-up” view of American history.

3.) Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond: In this text Diamond focuses on the political and social choices that societies make and how those choices can determine whether a society will collapse under its own weight or last for centuries.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1.) The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown – This book’s main character attempts to untangle myth from “historical truth” concerning the Catholic Church in this thrilling bit of historical fiction.

2.) The Breath of God by Jeffrey Small – This is a fast paced, thought provoking novel where the main character discovers secrets that run counter to the prevailing history of Christianity.

3.) The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury – Similar to the Da Vinci code in pacing and also in its fictional accounts of cover-ups within the Catholic Church, however the secrets the protagonist uncovers span far beyond the church itself.


In the Time of Butterflies

August 1, 2011

Author: Julia Alvarez

Title: In the Time of Butterflies

Genre: Literary fiction, Historical fiction

Publication date: 1994

No. of pages: 352

Geographical setting: Dominican Republic

Time period: 1938-1960, 1994

Plot summary: November 25, 1960: The bodies of the three Maribal sisters are found beside their Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff off the north coast of the Dominican Republic, a tragic accident according to the military regime of dictator General Rafael Trujillo. However a fourth sister survives and lives to tell the story of her sisters’ resistance as Las Mariposas, revolutionaries and patriots who became martyrs for their cause of freedom. Across the decades, the voices of all four sisters speak about their loss of childhood, innocence and ultimately their lives.

Series: NA

Subject headings: Dominican Republic, Women Revolutionaries, Dictatorship, History

Appeal: character-centered, historical, political, atmospheric, bleak, haunting, insightful, thoughtful, descriptive, candid, compelling, lyrical, rotating first-person narratives

3 terms that best describe this book: character-centered, candid, compelling

3 relevant non-fiction works and authors:

The Dictator’s Seduction: Politics and the Popular Imagination in the Era of Trujillo by Lauren Derby (Explores the cultural history of the Trujillo regime and the complex and complicit relationship the dictator and the Dominican pueblo)

Night by Elie Wiesel (A terrifying account of the horror’s of the Nazi death camp from a young Jewish boy who witnessed the death of his family)

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (Follows the lives of 6 North Koreans over 15 years illustrating vividly what it means to live under the most repressive totalitarian regime today)

Interesting read for Spanish readers:

Vivas en su jardin by Dede Maribal (The account of the lone surviving Maribal sister, currently only available in Spanish text and audio)

3 relevant fiction works and authors:

The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat (A former “dew breaker” or torturer recalls his life, family, neighbors and victims as he tries to come to terms with his past; historical, rotating first-person narratives, insightful)

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (Descendants of decades old feud between a small, dying white community and a Native American reservation in North Dakota explore their shared history to solve the mystery behind the feud; insightful, rotating first-person narratives, compelling)

The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa (Three narratives of the ending days of General Trujillo’s regime; rotating first-person narratives, insightful, political)

by Denise Benson

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

March 16, 2011

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Author: Toni Morrison

Title: Song of Solomon

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1977

Number of Pages: 337

Geographical Setting: Detroit, MI

Time Period: 1910’s to 1960’s

Plot Summary: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, is the story of the Dead family led by local Detroit businessman, Macon Dead together with his wife Ruth Foster Dead and their three children, First Corinthians, Magdalena (Lena), and Macon, Jr.  Told in third person from the perspective of Macon Dead and Macon, Jr. we are pulled into the current life of Macon, Jr. as a child and as he grows up through the 1950’s and 60’s.  Macon Dead, the father, serves as the history teller bringing us back to the past through his stories as he remembers his life and what brought him to present day.  Morrison uses eccentric secondary characters such as Empire State, to tell us even more about the secrets of Macon family, their complicated lives and societal roles both within the family and as African-Americans, throughout the novel.  Song of Solomon is thought-provoking, introspective, and imaginative in its storytelling both for the characters and the reader.

Subject Headings: Fiction & Biography; African Americans; Fathers and sons; Family relationships; Family histories; Heritage; Racial identity; Self-discovery; Social classes; Michigan Midwest (U.S.); 20th century; Literary; Domestic; Generational; Sociological; Married Father; Businessman

Appeal: engrossing, thought-provoking, imaginative, introspective, historical, African-American, eccentric, urban, rural, race relations, civil rights movement, morality, familial roles and life, ancestral, changes, award-winning, National Book Critics Circle Award, lyrical writing, melancholy

3 terms that best describe this book: engrossing, African-American literature, thought-provoking

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White by Henry Weincek tells the historical story of the Hairston family and their inspiring rise from lives of repressive slavery to middle-class America in WWII.

Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South is a compiliation of real-life interviews and stories of segregation in the south in the 1950’s and 1960’s and how families and people overcame their struggles to create a sense of normalcy in their lives.  The book was compiled by the Behind the Veil Project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past by Henry Louis Gates is companion volume to the landmark PBS documentary African American Lives.  The book follows these 19 families as they trace their roots and learn about not only their ancestry and culture, but also themselves through introspective realizations.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston; the poignant and moving story of an African-American woman in the 1930’s searching for her ancestry while learning about herself throughout the journey.  Hurston tells the story with rhythmic language through a series of formats in one volume.

Beloved by Toni Morrison tells the rich story of Sethe, a former slave, now freed, who is haunted by the ghosts of her past of not only her troubled life but also the mysterious nature of her baby’s death.  This is written in Morrison’s unique style of lyrical complexity

The Color Purple by Alice Walker is the classic African American story of two sisters from the poor, rural south and their journey through 30 years of life starting in the 1900’s and taking us through the 1940’s.  Walker delivers the story as a novel told through the letters these sisters write to each other.

-Jennifer Peterson


October 20, 2009

Title: Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History (mid1930s to Winter 1944)

Author: Art Spiegelman

Publication Date: 1986

Number of Pages: 159

Genre: Graphic Novel/Historical/Biography/Memoir

Geographical Setting: New York, and World War II Poland

Time Period: The Present, 1930’s and 1940’s

Series: Part 1 of 2

Plot Summary: Art Spiegelman tells the events of his parents’ last years as survivors of the Holocaust, and the effect it has had on him. Art, who was born after the war, is visiting his father, Vladek, to record his experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland. The Nazis, portrayed as cats, gradually introduce increasingly repressive measures, until the Jews, drawn as mice, are systematically hunted and herded toward the Final Solution. Vladek saves himself and his wife by a combination of luck and wits, all the time enduring the torment of hunted outcast. Each scene begins at Spiegelman’s father’s home in New York. An important theme emerges as the reader grasps that fact that Art has had an extremely difficult time adjusting to his own life, due to the burdens he bears regarding his parents’ experiences. As both author and artist, Spiegelman portrays a very realistic view of the difficulties his family has faced as first and second generation Holocaust survivors in this graphic novel format. Readers won’t want to miss the second part of the story in Maus: A Survivor’s Tale II: And Here My Troubles Began.

Subject Headings: Holocaust, Memoirs, Jewish history, Hitler, Europe, War survivors, Comic books, Children of Holocaust survivors, Father and son, Jewish-American men, Jewish-Americans, Biography, Graphic Novels (nonfiction), History, Wars, World War II, Concentration Camps, Anti-Semitism, The 1930s, The 1940s, The 1970s, Auschwitz survivors, Nazi prison camps, Genocide, Suicide, Wartime Poland, Contemporary New York, Brutality, Deprivation, Gas Chambers, Judaism, Jewish, Politics, Genocide, Polish Army, Old Eastern Europe, Stereotypes

Appeal: engaging, stimulating, compelling, realistic, relatable, struggle, survival, dark, intense, visual, historical, heart-wrenching, family, relationships, fathers and sons, symbolism, heroism, ominous, tormenting, complex, chilling realism, suffering, humor, mesmerizing, colorful, flawed

Three terms that best describe this book: Fast-paced, Intense,Visual

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Berlin: A City of Stones (2001) by Jason Lutes This graphic novel takes place in Berlin during the time period between the two World Wars. It uses black and white art, but it is not a gentle read. This novel shows some of the political changes that were, including the rise of the Nazi party and the increasing discrimination of the Jews. Readers should be aware that this book involves scenes which include sexual content and sexual orientation. Berlin was originally published in comic book form, 1-8.

A Jew in Communist Prague: Loss of Innocence (1997) by Vittorio Giardino — The first book in a series, recounts the childhood of Jonas Finkel, whose father is mysteriously taken by police in 1950 Communist Prague. Young Finkel is victimized by anti-Semitism, removed from school, forced to work as an errand boy, and isolated from his peers. The story ends hopefully as Jonas and his mother learn that his father is alive and being held in a prison camp.

A Generation of Wrath (1984) by Elio Romano – The story reads like a memoir, but the author considers it to be a work of fiction. It is an account of the author’s survival of five years in 11 different Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Occupied Poland. Elio Romano was 15-years-old, a member of an Orthodox Jewish family living in the quiet Polish town of Oswiecim, (or Auschwitz), when the German poured across the border. After he tried to escape to the Middle East, Romano was captured and dragged back to Poland, forced to help build the camp which soon became Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was liberated by the Americans in April of 1945, one of only 36 survivors of a last-minute German massacre.

Relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors:

Mendel’s Daughter: A Memoir (2006) by Martin Lemelman – This graphic novel is a true story about the life of a Jewish girl growing up in Poland during the 1940s, describing how the Nazi persecution led to the deaths of her parents and other members of her family, while she and her brothers survived the war by hiding in the neighboring forest. The story is in the form of a “memoir” told in the voice of Lemelman’s mother, Gusta, a holocaust survivor. Lemelman’s charcoal drawings and photographs give the story a very subdued, historical point of view.

Night (1960) by Elie Wiesel Night is an amazing autobiographical narrative, in which the author describes his experiences in Nazi concentration camps. One of four children, Wiesel was the only one in his family to survive the holocaust. Translated from the French, the English version of this book captures the author’s youthfulness. Wiesel’s autobiography is easily an equal comparison to The Diary of Anne Frank due to the suffering shared, and the emotional and spiritual journey the author must deal with as a young boy.

Fax From Sarajevo (1996) by Joe Kubert — This graphic novel details the true account of artist Ervin Rustemagic who was trapped during the Serbian seige of Sarajevo. The only way Ervin could keep in touch with the outside world was to send faxes to various people he knew. Joe Kubert is an American friend of Ervin’s and he received faxes, which he turned into this book. Ervin and his family (his wife Edina and two children, Maja and Edvin) were forced to stay in war-torn Sarajevo as the Serbs continued to attack the city. This book won an Eisner Award for best new graphic album and it won a Harvey Award for best graphic album of original work.

Name: Maurine

Hot, Flat, and Crowded

June 17, 2009

Author: Thomas L. Friedman

Title: Hot, Flat, and Crowded

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 400

Geographical Setting: America, China, the world

Time Period: 20th & 21st century

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Friedman discusses America’s lack of direction and purpose post 9/11, the global environmental crisis and it’s causes and effects. He relates how the solution to America’s identity crisis and the global environmental crisis are linked together. Because the United States is a world leader, Friedman argues that we must take action to replace our wasteful practices with more efficient, innovative efforts in order to preserve the future of our blue planet.

Subject Headings: Energy policy, Global warming, Climatic changes, Energy resources, Energy conservation, Sustainable society, Population, Energy industries

Appeal: entertaining, informative, historical, environmental, scientific, liberal, rational, forward-thinking, foreboding, alarming, scholarly, well-researched, political

Three terms that best describe this book: foreboding, informative, entertaining

Relevant Fiction: Lies, Inc. by Phillip K. Dick (overpopulation, global crisis, science fiction), Sixty Days and Counting by Kim Robinson (environmental crisis, international disaster, political), The Doomsday Report by Rock Brynner (global warming, politicals, hysteria)

Relevant Nonfiction: Two Billion Cars: Driving Toward Sustainability by Daniel Sperling and Deborah Gordon (environment, sustainability, oil industry), Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment by James Gustave Speth (environment, globalization, policy), It’s Not Easy Being Green: and Other Things to Consider by Jim Henson (entertaining, informative, grassroots).

Name: Stephen Koebel

Women’s Lives and Relationships/African American

June 15, 2009

Women’s Lives and Relationships

Title: The Lost Quilter

Author: Chiaverini, Jennifer

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 500 (large print edition)

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina

Time Period: Pre –Civil War and Present Day

Series: Elm Creek Quilts Novels

Plot Summary: The Elm Creek Quilts Novels focus on women’s lives and relationships. Jennifer Chiaverini has interwoven historical relationships at Elm Creek Farm with present day ties to the farm in her books. The owners of Elk Creek Farm currently live at the home but have turned it into a quilt camp business. This latest book, The Lost Quilter, tells the historical story of Joanna, a runaway slave, who came to the farm when it played a role in the Underground Railroad. Joanna gives birth while at the farm but is subsequently apprehended by slave catchers.  As a result of her capture, Joanna is forced to leave her infant son behind at the farm. The Lost Quilter focuses on Joanna’s difficult life, her desire to one day reconnect with her son, and her eventual escape from slavery. The present day characters find hidden letters, realize a great-uncle was Joanna’s son, and attempt to find out what happened to Joanna. Seeing a historical quilt made during Pre-Civil War days leads the family to uncover Joanna’s story.

Subject Headings: Quilting – Fiction, Quilt makers – Fiction, Slavery – Fiction, African American – Fiction, Underground Railroad – Fiction, Genealogy – Fiction

Appeal: Historical, Multi-cultural, Historical detailed settings, Generational relationships,  Multiple plotlines, Layered, Different Points of View, Varied pace, Engaging, Heartwarming, Spiritual, Issues Resolved.

Three Terms that Describe this Book: Historical, Female Relationships, Heartwarming.

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction)

Dallas, Sandra – The Persian Pickle Club. This book, set during the Depression, weaves a story of friendship during hard times and addresses several issues, including physical abuse, infertility and prejudice.

Brice, Carleen – Orange Mint and Honey is the story of a struggling black graduate student, Shay. Raised by an alcoholic mother, Shay reluctantly returns home to move in with her mom. Although her mother no longer drinks, Shay, her mother, and baby half-sister struggle to forge new family relationships.

Allen, Sarah Addison – Garden Spells. This engaging book, with a whiff of magic, is the story of two sisters. One sister stayed in the family home, and the other left town as soon as she could. The wayward sister returns, with a young daughter in tow, to the family home as a refuge. Both work to form new family relationships and attempt to support one another as they strive to become emotionally healthy individuals.

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction)

Wisconsin Public Television – “A Century of Quilts: America in Cloth” is a DVD showing quilts as records of history, symbols of family and community and works of art.

Better Homes and Gardens Books – America’s Heritage Quilts. This books explains traditional quilts and their history. It also includes instructions and pattern pieces to quilt.

Hagedorn, Ann – Beyond the River: the untold story of the heroes of the Underground Railroad gives the history of the antislavery movement, abolitionists, and fugitive slaves.

Name: Donna Mihovilovich