Posts Tagged ‘hopeful’

Boy Meets Boy

November 28, 2012

Author: David Levithan

Title: Boy Meets Boy

Genre: GLBT fiction; Realistic fiction

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 185

Geographical Setting: Not specified. “Gaytopia”

Time Period: Present Day

Plot Summary: Sophomore high school student, Paul, does not have an especially profound coming out story. His kindergarten teacher simply sent a report card home to his parents that read: “Paul is definitely gay and has a very good sense of self.” Such is the laidback attitude of Paul’s town where people of all sexual orientations are treated with respect and acceptance. In this community, being gay is not considered a unique trait but rather par for the course. Paul lives in a place where the quarterback of the high school football team is a cross-dresser who also happens to be the homecoming queen. Additionally, the cheerleading squad is not your typical pom-pom crowd but rather a group of Harley-riding bikers. While Paul has had crushes spanning back to third grade, and a few ex-boyfriends along the way, none of these encounters can compare to the remarkable response Paul feels after meeting Noah. The new kid at school, Noah is artistic, kind, and intriguing. Paul falls in love deeply and quickly, yet an ex-boyfriend named Kyle has suddenly regained interest in Paul, which threatens the joy of this new romance. Paul would normally seek advice from his friends regarding the resurgence of his ex-boyfriend; however, his childhood best friend, Joni, is engrossed in a new boyfriend whose dating motives are questionable. In addition to Joni’s absence, Paul’s friend, Tony, has been put under house arrest by his conservative family. Now Paul must find a way to repair his strained friendships while also protecting his new relationship with Noah despite Kyle’s confusing advances. Inspiring and heartwarming, Boy Meets Boy is a contemporary coming-of-age story about friendships, family, and romance. Paul’s narration is unpretentious and thoughtful in this tale of believable teenage issues in an extraordinary town.

Subject Headings: Gay teenagers, High school sophomores, Infatuation in teenage boys, Interpersonal relations, Teenage boys, Teenage romance

Three Appeal Terms That Best Describe This Book: Heartwarming, Hopeful, Inspiring

Appeal: Contemporary, Breezy, Conversational, Thoughtful, Unpretentious, Unhurried, Heartwarming, Lighthearted, Hopeful, Strong Secondary Characters, Inspiring, Character-Centered

Fiction Read Alikes:

The Hookup Artist by Tucker Shaw

Aspiring to be his high school’s matchmaker, Lucas endeavors to set up his best friend Cate with the attractive new kid at school, Derek. Despite her initial reluctance, Cate falls for Derek who appears to only have eyes for Lucas. This triangle is further complicated when Lucas returns Derek’s crush which in turn threatens his relationship with Cate. Readers who are looking for additional YA GLBT fiction that discusses how first loves can complicate friendships should pick up this contemporary and humorous read.

How I paid for college: a novel of sex, theft, friendship & musical theater by Marc Acito

Recently graduated from high school, Edward Zanni has a seemingly perfect life. He has a beautiful girlfriend, an intriguing and attractive football-playing friend, and an acceptance to Julliard. When Edward’s father suddenly announces he won’t be able to pay his son’s tuition due to an upcoming marriage, Edward enlists the help of his friends to secure his collegiate future. Edward’s entourage of friends make for enjoyable secondary characters and Edward’s journey of discovering his own sexuality is endearing and believable. Adult and teen Boy Meets Boy fans looking for another humorous coming-of-age story about friendship and self-discovery might enjoy How I Paid for College.

Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan

Childhood best friends, Hal and Chuck, are spending a summer apart for the first time in ten years. In order to keep in touch, the two teens set up a blog in which Hal discusses falling for a young Frenchman and Chuck describes his crush on summer camp thespian. Despite Hal’s recently coming out to Chuck, their friendship remains strong and the two boys discuss love and sex in a frank and humorous tone. Boy Meets Boy fans who are looking for another witty, contemporary read about friendship and first loves might enjoy this book.

Non-Fiction Read Alikes:

The full spectrum: a new generation of writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other identities

Edited by Boy Meets Boy author Levithan, The Full Spectrum is a collection of non-fiction poems and short stories written by gay teenagers in which they discuss their experiences with coming out, religion, family, friends, and love. Readers who enjoyed Paul’s believable teenage narration of traditional high school experiences might wish to explore similar true stories from gay young adults.

The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

In this non-fiction anthology, sixty-four professional authors write letters to their teenage selves in which they discuss issues such as coming out and self-discovery. Readers who are looking for more traditional coming out stories (compared to Paul’s kindergarten report card) might enjoy this title.

When the Drama Club Is Not Enough: Lessons from the Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Students by Jeff Perrotti

In this guidebook for teens, Perrotti (the founding director of the Massachusetts Department of Education initiative) shares his experiences as an activist for teens while trying to promote gay rights in the school setting. Some Boy Meets Boy fans may find Paul’s accepting high school environment inspiring; those readers seeking materials on how to promote gay rights in their own school should read this book.

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

November 7, 2012

Author: Anthology, 64 contributing authors

Title: The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 281

Geographical Setting: N/A

Time Period: Present (some flashbacks to authors’ adolescence).

Plot Summary: What would you write if you could send a letter to your young adult self? This question is explored in The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves as sixty-four LGBT authors, including Michael Cunningham and Amy Bloom, create an anthology of letters written to themselves as teenagers. While each letter is unique and distinctive, the collection as a whole discusses topics such as: exploring self-identity, the sometimes painful process of coming out, and encouragement and hope for bright futures ahead. Some authors write letters that are nostalgic and humorous as they discuss memorable moments from their adolescence, a well-remembered love for Barbara Streisand’s Broadway albums for example. Other letters take on a more serious tone with discussions of bullying or teenage self-loathing. Despite the variety of moods present in this anthology, the collective message found in the text is hopeful and reassuring with promises of happy adulthood in a more tolerant society. In addition to content, the letters are also unique in format. While the majority of entries consist of traditional letters, others are written in free verse or graphic novel form. This anthology of unsent letters makes for an emotional read that is heartwarming at times while tearful at others. Written in a conversational tone, The Letter Q is an honest and endearing read about courage and self-acceptance that will appeal to both teen and adult readers.

Subject Headings: Coming out (Sexual orientation), Gay men, Self-acceptance, Social situations, Teenage, Teenagers, Gays-Identity, Adolescence

Three Appeal Terms: Hopeful, Humorous, Nostalgic

Appeal: Compassionate, Heartwarming, Hopeful, Humorous, Nostalgic, Optimistic, Flashbacks, Issue-Oriented, Thought-Provoking, Candid, Conversational, Multiple Points of View.

Non-Fiction Read-Alikes:

Oddly Normal: One Family’s Struggle to Help their Teenage Son Come to Terms with his Sexuality by John Schwartz

Written by a New York Times correspondent, Schwartz tells the heartbreaking story of his thirteen-year-old son’s attempt to commit suicide after coming out to friends and family. The near tragedy becomes an uplifting tale as Schwartz recounts his mission to make his teenage son feel safe and supported. Fans of The Letter Q who are looking for additional true coming out stories that are both positive and encouraging may also enjoy this title.

Queer: the ultimate LGBT guide for teens by Kathy Belge

Structured as a guidebook for young adults, Queer offers advice on a wide range of topics including dating, sex, and homophobia. For young adults who appreciated the guidance and suggestions provided in The Letter QQueer may be helpful additional reading for teens who are seeking more resources on coming out.

When I Knew (2005)

A collection of anecdotes from eighty contributing writers, When I Knew authors describe the moment they realized they were gay and the coming out process that followed. When I Knew may appeal to Q fans who are looking for additional anthologies of coming out stories that are both inspiring and humorous.

Fiction Read-Alikes:

My most excellent year: a novel of love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year is narrated by three young adults from Boston who share their experiences of love and friendship through letters, emails, and instant messages. This trio of unique characters consists of  T.C., who is baseball-obsessed and has made a hobby of writing letters to his deceased mother; Alejandra, whose father is an ambassador to Mexico and holds Jacqueline Kennedy as her role model; and Augie, a musical theater fanatic who shares his own coming out story. Young adult readers who enjoyed the multiple voices included in The Letter Q may appreciate this humorous coming-of-age/coming out story told through three narrators. My Most Excellent Year’s format of letters, emails, and texts might also appeal to Q fans.

Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom
 by Emily Franklin

High school senior Lucas is thoroughly shocked when his lifelong best friend, Tessa, turns down his prom invitation and also comes out to him as a lesbian. Wanting to wear a tux and bring her girlfriend to the dance, Tessa is faced with Lucas’ betrayal of spreading her secret and the town’s backlash towards her determination to attend the prom.  readers who are looking for another inspiring yet humorous coming out story told through multiple perspectives might appreciate this title.

Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle

Sixteen-year-old Steven embarks on a mission to prove to himself that, despite his doubts, he is straight. His adventures include dating a slue of his female classmates, socializing with the jocks, and a comical attempt to purchase a Playboy. When Steven finally admits to himself that he is gay, he comes out to his best friend who responds with overwhelming enthusiasm and urges him to share the good news with everyone he knows. Similar to The Letter Q, Absolutely, Positively Not is endearing, hopeful, and hilarious. Q fans who are seeking additional believable, light-hearted coming out stories might enjoy this book.

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

The Book Thief

October 24, 2012

Author: Zusak, Markus

Title: The Book Thief

Genre: Audio Book, Juvenile Fiction, Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 560; number of compact discs: 11 (13 hr., 50 min)

Geographical Setting: Molching (outside of Munich) fictional town outside of Munich in Germany

Time Period: 1933-1945

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: The Book Thief written by an Australian writer, received numerous literary awards, and is one of the most originally written novels of the 2000s. In its audio book version, narrator Allan Corduner, an actor with extensive theatre experience on London’s West End and on Broadway, gives an extraordinary performance by using his voice. The main character, 9 year old Liesel, known as a book thief, is sent by her mother who later on disappears to live with her new foster family. During the journey, her little brother dies on the train; she buries him with her mother and steals her first book, The Grave Digger’s Handbook. However, Liesel cannot read. The most original aspect of the novel is its narrative –Death itself, who tells the story of Liesel. Her adoptive father Hans, who she calls Papa, quickly becomes her friend and teaches her writing and reading. Her stealing adventures with a boy named Rudy, the dark and paranoid living situation of a young Jew, Max, who the family hides in their basement, and a few other strong characters that live in this fictional small town, somewhere outside of Munich, are shown with the philosophical aspects of dehumanization during the World War II. Therefore, there is another side of Germany shown, not the Nazi, fanatic country, but Germans who in spite of the consequences of immediate death, hide in their homes other Germans – Jews and sympathize and help them. And Liesel, a brave and intelligent girl, discovers instantly what a treasure for a human soul a book truly is and learns instantly what  Main Kampf did to one country.

Subject Headings: Books and Reading, Death, Nazi Germany, History 1933-1945, Historical Fiction, Holocaust, Jews Rescue, Juvenile Fiction, Storytelling, World War II.

Appeal: emotional; hopeful; philosophical portray of Germans and Jews during World War II; undeniable proof for power of written word; insightful characters; realistic aspects of human dignity; inspiring acts of courage.

Three Terms for Book:  hopeful, superb and innovative narrative, and important enlightening novel.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

  1. Orlev, Uri, The Island on Bird Street – the story of the 11 year old boy      during the Holocaust, in a Warsaw ghetto in      Poland.      His faith for his father comes back, courage, and reading makes the      horrifying conditions inexplicably able to endure. The author is      internationally known for his books focusing on the subjects of the      Holocaust and the lives of Jews throughout WWII.
  2. Pausewang, Gudrun, Traitor – during the last year of WWII, the 15 year old Anna      must decide about hiding a Russian soldier in her native town in Germany,      while risking their  lives and      certain death if being exposed. The book inspires further dialogue about      the difficult choices Germans had to make in these evil times.
  3.  Peet, Mal, Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal – available      also as an audio book, narrated by two authors, male and female. Tamar is      15 years old and lives in England.      It is 1995 when his beloved grand-father commits  suicide, and Tamar will learn about his      secret past life during WWII in Netherlands under the Nazi      occupation. It is a compelling and suspenseful book about fear, finding      one’s own identity, and once again strength.

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

  1. Frank, Anne, The Diary of a Young Girl – an audio book published in 2010 as      a new edition for new generation of young people about the worldwide known      testament of the Holocaust and Jewish people hiding to survive the war’s      atrocities. Anne died in 1945 as a young girl, leaving her diaries as      evidence of her short life-vulnerable but dignified and in spite of      circumstances full of young, rebellious spirit.
  2. Gross, Leonard, The Last Jews in Berlin – based on the real story, the      survival of twelve Jews in the heart of Nazi Berlin. It’s the middle of      the war, 1942, genocide of Jews, concentration camps, and twelve very      brave women and men against the human degradation called extermination of      Jews. The perspective of a people living in constant fear of being exposed      to sure death among good Germans who wished to help. Moving and      informative.
  3. Friedlander, Saul, Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945: The Years of      Extermination – well researched, revisited sensitive subject of lives      of Jewish people in Europe under the      regime and fear of death. The author, an American professor of history,      focuses on subjects, such as anti-Semitism and its motives.

Chyna Black by Keisha Ervin

August 13, 2012

 Author:  Keisha Ervin

Title:  Chyna Black

Genre:  African American, Urban Lit

Publication Date:  2004

Number of Pages:  259

Geographical Setting:  St. Louis, Missouri

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Seventeen-year-old Chyna Black catches the eye of Tyriek James, a handsome 22-year-old drug dealer living a life filled with fast cars, expensive jewelry, and designer name clothes.  Unheeding her girlfriends’ advice that Tyriek is nothing but trouble, Chyna is blinded by her passion and pursues a relationship with him, forsaking everything else.  Chyna, infatuated and caught up in his lifestyle, goes from straight-A student to high school dropout, begins to isolate herself from her friends, and gets thrown out of her mother’s house.  Although things go well for a while between her and Tyriek, their relationship soon becomes fraught with jealousy, infidelity, violent physical and emotional abuse, passionate make-up sex, and insincere promises of devotion.  Chyna learns all too late the unhealthiness of their relationship, returns to her mother’s house, and begins dating an old boyfriend, LP, who gets her pregnant.  Without LP’s support, she decides to keep the baby and get her life back on track by getting a job and her GED.  One year later, at her daughter’s first birthday, Tyriek reappears with new promises of devotion.  Chyna Black is a fast-paced, gritty tale of urban fiction written in a raw, conversational style that is heavy with dialect and loaded with profanity.  Chyna and Tyriek’s relationship is a maelstrom of drama and passionate eroticism that is sure to engage readers who enjoy these elements.

Subject Headings:  African American Teenage Girls; Inner City Life; Teenage Pregnancy; High School Dropouts; Drug Dealers; Unhealthy Relationships; Responsibility; Coming-of-Age Stories

Appeal:  Conversational, informal, unpretentious, authentic, raw, gritty, dialect-rich, sexually explicit, strong language, erotic, romantic, melodramatic, hopeful, inspiring, fast-paced, open-ended

3 terms that best describe this book:  Dialect-rich, raw, and strong language

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

            3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Dear Diary, I’m Pregnant: Ten Real Life Stories by Anrenee Englander

This book is a collection of candid interviews with ten teenage girls from various socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and faiths about their experiences with pregnancy.  The girls’ stories also touch on topics such as abortion, adoption, and deciding to keep their babies.  This title is suggested to those who want to read true-life stories about teenage pregnancies after reading about Chyna’s experiences.

2)  A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown

A harrowing yet inspiring memoir of how the author overcame her history of childhood neglect, abject poverty, trauma, rape, prostitution, gang affiliation, and substance abuse and became a California attorney and motivational speaker.  Like Chyna Black, this is a gritty, raw, and inspiring story of an African American woman taking back control of her life.

3)  Brothers (and Me): A Memoir of Loving and Giving by Donna Britt

An honest and introspective memoir about how the author, growing up as the only daughter in a middle-class African American family, sacrificed her own ambitions and self-identity for the men in her life: her three brothers, her father, her boyfriends, and her husband.  After the police shoot and kill one of her brothers, she reflects on the ways in which she has continually given of herself to others at the expense of her own individuality.  Chyna Black comes to a similar realization when she breaks things off with Tyreik and begins to take responsibility for her future.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Every Thug Needs a Lady by Wahida Clark

Roz puts her personal aspirations of becoming a physical therapist aside when she meets and gets involved with Trae, a drug dealer.  She soon realizes the cost of getting into a relationship with a gangster.  Every Thug Needs a Lady and Chyna Black are similar urban tales of young African American women blinded by their passion for handsome, wealthy thugs at the expense of everything else.

2)  Black: A Street Tale by Tracy Brown

When her mother throws her out of the house, 17-year-old Kaia is forced to live on the streets.  Trying desperately just to survive, she meets and gets involved in relationship with a local hoodlum named Aaron.  Although this relationship changes her life, she questions whether it has changed for the better or if it is stifling her freedom.  Suggested to readers looking for another story about a young African American teenage girl who is thrown out of her home and becomes romantically involved with a dangerous man.

3)  Push by Sapphire

Sixteen-year-old Precious Jones lives in a severely abusive household where her father routinely rapes her and her mother emotionally and physically abuses her.  When she finds herself pregnant with her father’s child for the second time, she enrolls in an alternative school in Harlem to overcome her illiteracy.  Her teacher, Blue Rain, encourages and pushes her to learn how to read and write.  By learning these skills, Precious is able to find an outlet for communicating her tragic existence.  Push is suggested to readers looking for a grittier, bleaker, and more harrowing tale of a pregnant African American teenage girl gaining the confidence she needs to confront the adversity and trauma she has suffered.

Name:  Zach Musil

For One More Day

August 13, 2012

Author: Albom, Mitch

Title: For One More Day

 Genre: Inspirational

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 197 p.

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:

Plot Summary: This is an inspirational story about Charley “Chick” Benetto, a broken man on the verge of suicide. Chick was a child of divorce forced to choose between his mother and his father. Soon after choosing his father, Chick gets abandoned and bitterly returns to his mother. After her death, a grief-stricken Chick forms a family of his own, but later loses his job, becomes regretful, depressed, alcoholic and eventually lonely and isolated. His daughter’s rejection triggers a suicide attempt that unexpectedly takes him to an ordinary day at his childhood home where he gets a second chance to spend time with his lost mother. During that day Chick learns family secrets, seeks forgiveness, discovers her mother’s self-sacrifices, and regains awareness of the destructive path in his life. Inspired by his mother’s loving guidance he decides to make a change a try to put his life back together.

Subject Headings: Personal Transformations; Loneliness in men; Alcoholics; Nervous breakdown; Mother and adult son; Ghosts; Single mothers; Divorced women; Mothers – Death; Men — Suicidal behavior; Depression in men; Grief in men; Ambition in men; Coping in men.

Appeal: Emotionally-charged, gentle, family-centered, homespun style, haunting, hopeful, psychological, moving, nostalgic, dramatic, inspiring, domestic.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Family-centered, nostalgic, moving.

***

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes. In this story, wealthy middle-aged divorcé Richard Novak has mastered isolation by choice. Two incidents force him to reconnect with his family and establish new relationships. Just like For One More Day, this story is psychological and centers on relationships and personal transformation.

Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard. The narrator of this story finds himself in a peculiar abandoned amusement park per her dying fiancé’s request. Guided by a wise groundskeeper, the narrator embarks in a profound psychological journey to self-discovery. This is also an inspirational novel emphasizing past memories, self awareness, and overcoming difficult circumstances.

Blame by Michelle Huneven. Patsy MacLemoore is a young, smart and wild history professor that wakes up once again in jail, this time after running over and killing a mother and daughter in her driveway. She spends several years in jail sobering up, trying to atone for her misdeed until new information turns up to change and bring a different light on her life. Besides its psychological nature, this novel shares Albom’s subjects of alcoholism, guilt and regret, and rebuilding a life.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

           The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. In this auto-biographical account computer science professor Pausch thoughtfully reflects about his experience as a terminally ill cancer patient. This is an inspiring choice for readers looking for real life stories of lessons learned, spirituality, family and relationship in adversity, and the pursue of dreams.

           Unfinished Business: What the Dead Can Teach Us about Life by James Van Praagh. Written by medium James Van Praagh, this book provides thought-provoking information, theories and stories about ghosts and spirits and their experience and relationships with their living loved ones. Chick’s encounter with his lost mother is sometimes described as other-worldly, this may interest those curious about hopeful ghostly messages about healing.

           Living Through the Meantime: Learning to Break the Patterns of the Past and Begin the Healing Process by Iyanla Vanzant. The author describes a “meantime” concept generally fueled by past experiences that tends in cases cause confusion, anger, disappointment, frustration, anxiety, apprehensiveness, etc. For those considering self-help options to heal and get their life back together.

Fanny Camargo

Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

August 8, 2012

Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

Author: Ruth Reichl

Title: Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

Genre: Nonfiction; Memoirs; Autobiographies (Best Seller)

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 282

Geographical Setting: New York and Connecticut

Time Period: 1950’s

Plot Summary: Ruth Reichl, Gourmet magazine’s editor-in-chief and restaurant critic for The New York Times, writes memoirs about her childhood written under the umbrella of food and cooking. Cooking was her escape from her dysfunctional family, but especially in dealing with her mother who suffered from a mental illness. Although it sounds like this book should be sad and tragic, the stories are told in an amusing and heartwarming way. This novel is set at a relaxed pace as you get to know Ruth as well as the many other descriptive and engaging characters.

Subject Headings: Reichl, Ruth; Cooking; Growing up; Food habits-United States; Recipes

Appeal: character-driven, relaxed pace, amusing, bittersweet, heartwarming, inspirational, nostalgic, candid, conversational, descriptive, dialect-rich, engaging, lush, hopeful, thoughtful, imaginative, clever, colorful, metaphorical

3 terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, descriptive, and character-driven

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber – If you enjoy reading memoirs about food and culture and liked the relaxed pace and amusing nature of Tender at the Bone, you may enjoy this book.

2.    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver- If you enjoy reading memoirs about food and are interested in finding out more about locally grown foods, you may enjoy this read alike.

3.      Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell – If you enjoy reading autobiographies about food and cooking,and appreciate a book with a conversational and humorous tone just like Tender at the Bone, you might want to try this book. (Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs – If you like reading humorous stories about a chefs and cooking set in a relaxed pace, you may enjoy this book.

2.      Corinna Chapman Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood – If you enjoy reading engaging mysteries about food and cooking, this series might appeal to you. (First book in the series is Earthly Delights.)

3.      The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender – If you liked the character-driven nature of Tender at the Bone, but would like to try something a little bit more offbeat and lyrical, you might want to try this book.

Name: Patty Prodanich

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

August 1, 2012

Author: Pearl Cleage

Title: What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 244

Geographical Setting: Idlewild, Michigan

Time Period: The 1990s

Series:  No

Plot Summary: After an event filled life in Atlanta, Ava Johnson finds that she is HIV positive. On her move to San Francisco, Ava decides to make a stopover in her childhood town of Idlewild, Michigan to visit her widowed sister Joyce Mitchell. Idlewild was once an idyllic lakeside getaway for African-American families in northern Michigan, but now resembles a rundown rural town crushed by the big city troubles of drugs, crime, abuse and teen pregnancies. Ever positive and upbeat, action oriented Joyce sweeps Ava along with her as they work to turn the fortunes of Idlewild around. The writing reflects an authentic and warm relationship between Ava and Joyce. Using humor and straightforward language, the characters are well-drawn and the events are realistic. Some profanity and sexual situations are part of the story, but also reflect the reality of the grim situations depicted. This is a disquieting yet hopeful account of how strong and positive relationships between friends and family can change things for the better.

Subject Headings: African American Women – Fiction, AIDS (Disease) – Patients – Michigan – Fiction, City and town life – Michigan – Fiction, Michigan – Fiction

Appeal: deliberate, measured pacing, dramatic, evocative, hopeful, humor, romantic, sobering, thoughtful, character-driven, flawed, issue-oriented, racy, strong language, contemporary, rural, accessible, conversational, profanity, candid

3 terms that best describe this book: Candid, character-driven, hopeful

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Austin, Lynn N. A Woman’s Place; This is a character-driven issue-oriented story that revolves around the lives of four disparate women who work at the Seneca Shipyards in Michigan during WWII.Virginia, Helen, Rosa, and Jean form an enduring bond of support and encouragement during challenging times, just as Joyce and Ava do.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God; This character-driven narrative conveys the story of Janie Crawford, a young southern African American woman living in the 1930s. Her journey echoes the lives of Ava and Joyce who come to understand that life is best lived when time is taken to listen and learn from both the good and the bad choices people have made.

McMillan, Terry. The Interruption of Everything; Girlfriends and family come together to rally around Marilyn Grimes, a 44 year-old African-American mother of three college age children and one boring husband. This group of strong women encourage and support each other as they grapple with contemporary issues using humor and hope.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Apter, Terri. SisterKnot: Why We Fight, Why We’re Jealous, and Why We’ll Love Each Other No Matter What; This authoritative and insightful book explores the relationships between sisters and female friends reflecting much of the history and evolution that Ava and Joyce experience.

Millner, Denene. The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Life; This book tackles issues facing  contemporary African-American women with humor and insight, not unlike the Statement of Purpose composed by Joyce and Ava that lists the 10 things every free woman should know.

Sherman, Charlotte Watson, (Ed). Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry; A collection of 50 poems and short stories about African-American women written by notable African-American writers. The text explores, often in vivid detail and graphic language, many contemporary issues facing African-American women today echoing many of the issues faced by characters in What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day.

Name: Patty Daniel

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

July 30, 2012

https://ra763.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/1-no-1-ladies-detective-agency-450h.jpg?w=194  Author:  Alexander McCall Smith

  Title:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

  Genre:  Mystery, Gentle Read

  Publication Date:  1998

  Number of Pages: 235

  Geographical Setting:  Bostwana

  Time Period:  Contemporary

  Series:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Plot Summary:  Sleuth Precious Ramotswe opens the first and only detective agency in Bostwana.  Mma Ramotswe is for hire and investigates a variety of cases, from a father who thinks his daughter has a boyfriend to a case of a clinic doctor with different personalities, depending on the day of the week.  The story’s main mystery involves a missing boy.  It is up to Mma Ramotswe to find him.

Subject Headings:  Ramotswe, Precious (Fictitious character) – Fiction, Women private investigators – Fiction, Bostwana – Fiction, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Imaginary organization) – Fiction.

Appeal:  atmospheric, leisurely-paced, character-centered, compelling, relaxed, hopeful, insightful, engaging, multiple plot lines, folksy, gentle, clever, warm tone.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, hopeful, gentle.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Middendorf Arruda.  This is a woman detective series featuring the character Jade del Cameron.  The first book is about brave, stubborn Jade del Cameron, who after the Great War, leaves New Mexico to come to Africa to help fulfill a man’s dying wish, meeting murder and mystery along the way.   This book is similar because of the African setting, mystery and character-driven with historical details.

Mrs. Pollifax and the lion killer by Dorothy Gilman.  Mrs. Pollifax accompanies her young friend Kadi Hopkirk to the African country of Ubangiba, where Kadi’s childhood friend, Sammat, is soon to be crowned king.  This book was chosen because it features a series character, Mrs. Pollifax and mystery and women spies.  This book of the series takes Mrs. Pollifax to Africa.

Marriage bureau for rich people by Farahad Zama.  Mr. Ali is persuaded to open a marriage bureau after driving his wife crazy during his retirement.  His business because a success so he hires, Aruna, who is hiding a tragic past.  While this is not a mystery, it shares enjoyable characters and warm tone.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels.  This is the real-life fairy tale about an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king, of an impoverished fishing village on the coast of West Africa.  American Peggy, while trying to please her ancestors struggles to turn this impoverish village around.  This would be a good suggestion because it is a warm story and is about life in an African village.  It gives the readers hope.  Author of No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency praised the book, “This is an astonishing and wonderful book about a real life Mma Ramotswe.  It is an utter joy.”

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: confessions of a Botswana safari guide by Peter Allison.  This book is about the tales of a safari guide and his encounters with big cats, elephants, hippos and other unpredictable animals.  This book gives a more detailed look at the beautiful country of Bostwana and its inhabitants.

Lineage of despotism and development: British colonialism and state power by Matthew Lange.  Author Matthew Lange argues against the assumption that past imperialism hinders future development prospects of colonized nations.  Book contains stats and analyzes what effects of colonial rule had on African countries. There are some case studies on Guyana and Bostwana.  There is mention of Botswana becoming independent from Great Britain in the book so this book is to explore the history of the country.

Name:  Olivia Button

The Help

July 16, 2012

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 522

Geographical Setting: Jackson, MS

Time Period: 1962-1964

Plot Summary: In 1962 Skeeter Phelan has graduated from college and is back in Jackson, Mississippi in the house where she grew up.  Desperate to leave town and become a writer she becomes inspired to write a book from the point of view of the African-American maids who live and work in her hometown.  Not without resistance, she enlists the help of Aibileen and Minny – two friends who have worked for multiple families in town over the years.  Stockett’s novel is told from these three voices as they embark on their secret project,  each aware of the risks and high costs that presenting this story to the world may have.

Subject Headings: African-American women, Civil Rights movement, college graduates, determination in women, domestic workers, housekeepers, interracial friendship, life change events, race relations, the sixties (20th century), and unemployed workers

Appeal:

compelling pacing, hopeful, emotionally-charged, thoughtful tone, character driven, multiple points of view, well-developed and vivid characters, flawed characters, sympathetic characters, inspiring characters, thought-provoking, historical setting, and engaging prose

3 terms that best describe this book:

Character driven, flawed characters, compelling

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Elizabeth and Hazel: two women of Little Rock by David Margolick – Taking place in a similar historical period to The Help, this novel tells the story of two women who were captured in an infamous picture during school integration in Little Rock.  Margolick recounts how this event shaped their lives.  This work has two points of view and focuses on individual people impacted by the civil rights movement.

Freedom Summer: the Savage Summer that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy by Bruce Watson – Telling the story of seven hundred volunteers who went to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to help register African-American voters and the violence that followed.  These events took place just after the fictional events of The Help.  The author also focuses on the participants and residents, capturing everyday people.

This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer by Kay Mills – Covering the civil rights movement through one activist, making it a personal character driven narrative.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas – Celeste is a college student and volunteer in the Freedom Summer in 1965. She is sent to a small Mississippi town to register voters, where she makes friends and finds unexpected challenges.  This novel has a similar historical setting, a character driven narrative, with young women questioning society around her.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld – The wife of the American President considers the path she took and the things about herself she had to give up on her journey.  It is a character driven novel with flawed and complex characters.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – Post World War II Juliet, an English writer, is working to move beyond.  After exchanging letters with members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society, she decides to visit them on an extended holiday.  A character driven story that involves creating unlikely friendships in trying circumstances

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

The Next Always

April 4, 2012

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Boonsboro, Maryland

Time Period: Present

Series (If applicable): Book One of The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy

Plot Summary: Clare is a war widow who has returned to her hometown with her three young sons.  Beckett Montgomery and his brothers are remodeling the Inn BoonsBoro, which happens to be across the street from Clare’s bookshop.  Beckett’s unrequited love for his best friend’s widow may finally have a chance now that Clare’s moved back to their quaint hometown. The author’s richly detailed descriptions of the small town and the remodeling project with a touch of the supernatural nicely frame the budding romance between Clare and Beckett .

Subject Headings: Small towns; Historic buildings – conservation and restoration; Second chances; Architects; Infatuation; Hotels; Single mothers; Widows; Booksellers; Homecomings; Small town life; First loves; Men/women relations.

Appeal: easy, engrossing, descriptive, richly detailed, strong sense of place, leisurely-paced, relaxed, unhurried, atmospheric, comfortable, heartwarming, hopeful, lighthearted, magical, optimistic, romantic, engaging, familiar, realistic, recognizable, series (characters), strong secondary characters, sympathetic, contemporary, detailed setting, small-town, accessible, colloquial, conversational, simple, unembellished, details of small town, details of restoration of old building.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: comfortable; heartwarming; richly detailed.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Under the Tuscan Sun  by Frances Mayes.  Under the Tuscan Sun and The Next Always both evoke strong sense of place using lush descriptions of the small towns where the story takes place and rich details of renovating once magnificent buildings (Mayes a countryside villa and Roberts an Inn).  Both also follow a love story that is framed by the restoration process.

The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran.  Doran amusingly recounts his relocation from LA where he was a TV producer to a tiny Tuscan town where he and his wife embark upon remodeling a 300 year old farmhouse. Doran’s optimism and witty commentary lead up to a happy-ever-after that The Next Always readers will appreciate.

My Boyfriend’s Back: True Stories of Rediscovering Love with a Long-Lost Sweetheart by Donna Hanover.  Beckett’s love for Clare has been unrequited since high school, but he gets a second chance with her in The Next Always.  Like the title suggests, My Boyfriend’s Back explores true stories of first loves rekindled later on in life. Both books will leave readers feeling hopeful about loves from the past.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Wedding Dress by Virginia Ellis. This light, heart-warming historical fiction by Ellis (who typically authors romance novels) centers around a Civil War widow and her sisters as they try to find hope in a bleak post-war life by sewing a wedding dress for the youngest sister.  Like The Next Always, The Wedding Dress offers hope, love, a happy ending, and even a ghostly twist.

The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods.  This is the heartwarming first book of in the contemporary romance series, Chesapeake Shores.  Like the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, Chesapeake Shores is about second chances and men/women relations and gives readers a strong sense of place.

Virgin River by Robyn Carr.  Virgin River is a leisurely-paced contemporary romance about a widow looking to start over in a small town.  A strong sense of place and a heartwarming story will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Next Always.

Name: Ally C.