Posts Tagged ‘inspiring’

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

December 5, 2012

Author:  Wes Moore

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

Genre:  Non-Fiction, Biography/Memoir

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  233

Geographical Setting:  primarily in Baltimore (MD), the Bronx (NY), and Wayne (PA)

Time Period:  1982-2010

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  In 2000, Wes Moore read a series of stories in the newspaper about a robbery/homicide in Baltimore; one of the young men arrested and convicted of the crime was also named Wes Moore.  Wes contacted the man, who was serving a life sentence in prison, and discovered through their letters and conversations that they shared much more in common than a name alone.  As boys, both had lived in poor neighborhoods, were fatherless, struggled in school, and had run into trouble with the police- yet their paths would diverge and lead to different ends.  Alternating between their stories, this insightful and thought provoking book follows the lives of the two boys named Wes Moore as they grow up, exposing readers to various factors that would influence their choices and opportunities (or lack thereof).  An extensive resource guide of over 200 youth-serving organizations across the country is provided at the end of the book.

Subject Headings:  Biography/memoir, African Americans, Childhood & youth, Baltimore (MD), Social conditions, Urban life, Family relationships, Life choices, Criminal activities, Prisoners, Education, Military service.

Appeal:  Character-driven, Coming-of-age story, Reflective, Thought provoking, Inspiring, Life choices and expectations, Second chances, Memoir, African American characters, Family relationships, Single-parent households, Mother-son relationships, Mentors, Leadership, Urban street life, Drug dealing & gangs, Baltimore (MD).

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Character-driven, coming-of-age story, urban life.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.  Readers interested in learning more about the social justice inequities exposed within The Other Wes Moore may want to read this title- it addresses issues surrounding the high rates of incarceration for people of color in our country’s prison system.

2.  The Beautiful Struggle:  A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Both The Other Wes Moore and this memoir are coming-of-age stories about African-American young men, set in Baltimore, and involving life expectations, choices, and consequences.

3.  My American Journey by Colin Powell.  In his book, Wes Moore describes Colin Powell’s memoir as being influential in his life, and more specifically in his decision to join the military.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  Muchacho by LouAnne Johnson.  The Other Wes Moore and this novel are both thought provoking, inspiring, coming-of-age stories in which young men struggle to overcome their circumstances.

2.  Yummy:  The Last Days of a Southside Shorty written by Greg Neri and illustrated by Randy DuBurke.  A graphic novel based upon a gang-related murder that happened in Chicago in 1994, this title could be a good match for readers who found the violence, drug selling and gang life depicted in The Other Wes Moore to be compelling.

3.  Slam! by Walter Dean Myers.  Both Wes Moore and the main character (Greg Harris) of this novel are African-American young men who come from tough, city neighborhoods and have to adjust to life at new, mostly white, schools.  In both stories, the young men find supportive mentors who help open their eyes to life’s possibilities.

Name:  Nicole

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

Memoirs of Geisha

September 26, 2012

Title: Memoirs of a Geisha

Author: Arthur, Golden

Publication Date: 1999

Time Period: Japan – 1920s to the 1940s.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 503

Plot Summary: Arthur Golden weaves a compelling story in this memoir about a poor girl Sayuri sold and taken to the big city and is forced into a  kind of  life she was totally unprepared for. She finds herself in the world of Geisha, and learns the Geisha trade where she eventually becomes one of the most desired Geisha in Japan. Told from a first person point of view, this book explores in detail the daily life of  the Geisha, various stages of the Geisha training, the competitions, and  rivalries among the Geisha and the ultimate sale of the Geisha’s virginity.  Though leisurely paced, the reader is taken  through twists and turns of the plot and is made to feel real sympathetic to the  strong willed and determined Sayuri – who decides to go by the wishes of her heart rather than the dictates of the society. You find  a lot of cultural elements and language that evokes  a strong sense of place that depicts the culture and tradition of the Japanese in a very realistic fashion..

Appeal Characteristics: Compelling; lyrical; richly detailed, leisurely paced, atmospheric; reflective, introspective, insightful, inspiring, detailed, homespun; Leisurely-Paced; Evocative, sympathetic, introspective – Japanese culture, single character development over time, explores interesting multiple  characters

Subject Headings: Geishas, Artisans, competition in women, Women entertainers,

Prostitution, Women friendship, Men/women relationships, Jealousy in women, First loves, 20th century

3 Best Appeal Terms: Leisurely paced, Compelling, Reflective

Similar Fiction: 

My Antonia by  Carter, Willa – Shares similar tone and plot  as Memoirs of a Geisha -The story of an orphaned girl who struggles from a young age…

Reflective, Homespun, Bittersweet, Narrative style –

The whistling season by Doig, Ivan – Set in the early 1900s, has a very strong sense of place, Moving, Reflective, Nostalgic, Descriptive, Atmospheric. Readers who loved these elements in Memoirs of a Geisha would also love this novel.

The commoner by Schwartz, John Burnham

Those who loved Memoirs of a Geisha will also love this because they both share similar themes –  Where one from a lowly beginning finds love and rises to top – a commoner marries into royalty. Novel set in Japan, evokes language and cultural elements.  Gives a good insight into the culture and tradition of the Japanese. Has similar narrative style, from first person point of view.

Similar Non-fiction:

Autobiography of a Geisha by Masuda, Sayo

Masuda recounts from a first person point of view life as a Geisha.  This book exposes both the glamour and the indignity surrounding “Geisha”. Readers of Memoirs of a Geisha would be enthralled.

Japanland: a year in search of wa by Muller, Karin

An american film maker travels to Japan to explore the customs and traditions of the people.  We get an insight into the life of geishas, samurai and other communities.  Readers who loved memoirs of a Geisha would thoroughly enjoy this true life account on what goes behind closed doors of these customs.

Women of the pleasure quarters: the secret history of the geisha by Downer, Leslie

This is a well researched  book that delves more into the history of the Geisha.  A fascinating read by anyone curious about how “Geisha” came to be.

By: Vera

 

The Alchemist

August 13, 2012

Author: Paulo Coehlo; audiobook narrated by Jeremy Irons

Title: The Alchemist

Genre: Inspirational; Spiritual Fiction; Literary Fiction; Fables

Publication Date: 1993

Number of Pages: 177

Geographical Setting: Spain; Egypt

Time Period: Not specified

Series: Not applicable

Plot Summary: Santiago’s reoccurring dream leads him on a quest to Egypt to find treasure and to also discover his personal legend or destiny. Along his journey, Santiago’s commitment to his personal legend is tested on multiple occasions, but he continues to keep choosing his quest. The Alchemist becomes Santiago’s guide through the dessert and his teacher about how to follow his heart and his dreams in the hope that, unlike so many people, Santiago will fulfill his destiny. This is a philosophical and spiritual journey for Santiago and his readers. The Alchemist is a thought-provoking and powerful novel that will cause you to question how your life and actions can impact and change yours and other peoples lives. This book will draw literary fiction, inspirational, and folk tale readers and undoubtedly, will cause all who read it to feel inspired to seek out their own personal legends.

Subject Headings: Alchemists — Fiction. Shepherds — Spain — Andalusia — Fiction. Andalusia (Spain) — Fiction. Fables.

Appeal: mystical, character-centered, gentle, thought-provoking, exotic, detailed setting, literary, thoughtful, lyrical

3 terms that best describes this book: relaxed, philosophical, inspiring

3 Nonfiction Read-a-likes:

The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz.

Don Miguel Ruiz discusses and explicates the paths and steps to take to personal freedom, peace, and unconditional love. A great read-a-like for readers who were inspired by themes in The Alchemist of filling your life with love and peace that will help readers know spiritual enlightenment.

The Awakening Course: the Secret to Solving All Problems, Joe Vitale

This book offers a step-by-step approach to changing your personal and professional transcendence. A thought-provoking, spiritual transformation that will help readers of The Alchemist be able to take their own inspirational journey to help achieve their lives goals.

Andalusia, Eliane Faure

 Andalusia is an illustrated guide to this part of Spain. This book offers a visual understanding to one of the exotic landscape of The Alchemist. You can explore Andalusia customs, the landscape, the major regions, and more.

 3 Fiction Read-a-likes:

Siddhartha, Herman Hesse.

Brahmin or Siddhartha abandons his aristocratic life to embark on a spiritual journey to better understand Indian spirituality. Siddhartha is another inspirational, mystical, though-provoking piece of literary fiction for the reader who enjoys spiritual journeys like in The Alchemist.

The Five People You Will Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom

After Eddie dies in a tragic accident, Eddie reflects upon his life in heaven feeling that his life was uninspired, but five people he knew in life explains the meaning of his life.  The Five People You Will Meet in Heaven is an inspiring, philosophical tale about appreciating and realizing ones purpose in life.

The Tale of the Unknown Island, Jose Saramago

A philosophical fable about a man who knocks on a king’s petitioner’s door to ask him for a boat to use on his voyage. Like the king, the man sparks curiosity and desire in the reader to find out where it is he is journeying too. The Tale of the Unknown Island is a spiritual journey similar to The Alchemist in the sense that both stories are character centered, literary, and inspires readers to explore their relationship to the world.

Name: Alison Kulczak

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

The Evening Crowd at Kirmser’s: A Gay Life in the 1940s

April 11, 2012

Title: The Evening Crowd at Kirmser’s: A Gay Life in the 1940s

Author:Richard J. Brown and William Reichard

Genre: LGBT

Publication Date: April 2003

Number of Pages: 155

Geographical Setting: Minnesota

Time Period:World War 2, 1940s

Plot Summary: The author is a naval recruit who is removed from miliatry servive after being discovered as a gay man and is forced to return home to Minnesota. Once there, he finds a small bar named Kirmser’s in St. Paul run by two German immigrants. By day the bar is home to typical blue collar workers but at night it transforms into a meeting place for gays and lesbians after the war. The book follows the author and his friends on a journey of personal acceptance and disapproval from the mass populace.

Subject Headings:

Brown, Ricardo J.
Gay journalists — United States — Biography
Homosexuality — Saint Paul, Minnesota — History
Gay men — Saint Paul, Minnesota — History
The Forties (20th century)

Appeal: Informative, detailed, moving, powerful, inspiring, descriptive, bittersweet, accessible, passionate, thoughtful, tragic, realistic, sympathetic,

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Moving, sympathetic, powerful

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Stonewall – Martin Baumi Duberman

A good choice for anyone who wishes to learn more about the history of the gay pride movement. Stonewall is half history book and half biography of six men and women personally involved in the Stonewall riots of the 60s when groups of gay men and women fought back against the police.

Coming out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men & Women In World War 2 – Allan Berube

Filled with letters and interviews by gay veterans, the book delves into the standing of gays in the military during this era, as well as how these gay soldiers subsequently changed their government and leaders.

Tales of the Lavender Menace: A Memoir of Liberation – Karla Jay

A memoir of Karla Jay’s life working as a student activist for the women’s liberation movement throughout the 60s & 70s. Perfect for anyone who wants to read about civil rights and the oppressed overcoming bigotry.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

More of This World or Maybe Another –  Barb Johnson

Winner of the Stonewall award for Literature, this novel follows four friends in New Orleans who are dealing with different struggles such as poverty, violence and homosexuality.

The City and the Pillar – Gore Vidal

A contemporary novel about a gay man’s coming of age in post-World War II America. Jim and Bob were childhood friends, but after years apart Jim strikes out on his own in the hopes of finding Bob again and rekindling their friendship.

A Single Man – Christopher Isherwood

George, a college professor, is adjusting to life on his own after the sudden death of his partner and contemplates taking his own life. The book follows a day in his life as he tries to cope with what might be his last day alive while still teaching and going through his daily routine. An excellent film version of this book was made starring Colin Firth and directed by Tom Ford.

Name: Courtney Rose

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

April 11, 2012

Author: Luis Alberto Urrea

Title: The Hummingbird’s Daughter

Genre: Historical fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 499

Geographical Setting: Mexico

Time Period: 1880s

Series: n/a, but story is continued in Queen of America.

Plot Summary: The Hummingbird’s Daughter is the historic story of Urrea’s great aunt. After researching his Aunt Teresita for twenty years, Urrea recreated the magical stories of the People’s struggle and his aunt that were passed down to him. Teresita is born into hardship, her young mother abandons Teresita early on and with no idea of who her father is Teresita is forced to move in with an abusive aunt. However the small-village life opens up new possibilities for Terestia as she makes friends with a healing woman named Huila. It is soon discovered that Teresita also inherited skills in healing. Urrea uses a strong sense of place and nature writing to give Teresita the power to heal with herbs and plants. As Teresita becomes a young woman, it becomes obvious to the People that her ability to heal is more than earthly and they deem her to be a Saint. Crowds gather as she heals and sends a message that the Mexican government sees as rebellious and threatening. Through poetic language and a witty undercurrent an inspiring story is woven through historic details creating a dramatic and thoughtful image of Saint Teresita.

Subject Headings: Teenage girls – fiction. Young women – fiction. Mexican Civil War – fiction. Nineteenth century – fiction. Women healers – fiction. Women saints – fiction. Ranchers – fiction. Family – fiction. Paternity – fiction. Near-death experience – fiction. Faith – fiction. Revolutions – fiction. Midwife – fiction.

Appeal: magical, compelling, well-developed characters, faithful characters, character-driven, thought-provoking, political, atmospheric, historical details, descriptive language, poetic, inspiring, witty, strong sense of place, strong sense of nature, relaxed pace.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: magical, poetic, well-developed characters

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard – A collection of writings about nature and spirituality, written with a poetic style.

Infusions of Healing: A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies by Joie Davidow – Just as Huila taught Teresita the power of plants, you can learn too. 200 herbs, their descriptions, and their healing uses are explained in this book.

The Big Book of Women Saints by Sarah Gallick – It was her People that gave Teresita the title of being a Saint, we saw her own understanding of the situation, her inner desires, and her sense of purpose. Read about the lives of other Saintly women.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Sacred Ground by Barbara Wood – In this character-driven, moving, and compelling novel, a young female healer is cursed by another person in her village. The curse affects and radiates through her life and her family relationships.

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain – Through Twain’s witty writing style, moving tone, with a strong sense of place, he explores the life of Joan of Arc in this historical fiction.

Malafrena by Ursula K. Le Guin – Like The Hummingbird’s Daughter, this is a historical fiction and a coming-of-age story combined, with a relaxed pace and an atmospheric tone the story of a man who leaves his town to join a revolution.

name: Jaymie

Tuesdays with Morrie

April 11, 2012

Author: Albom, Mitch

Title: Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson

Genre: Non-fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 192

Geographical Setting: United Stated (Detroit and Boston)

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  Mitch Albom is a sports journalist in Detroit. He coincidentally catches a glimpse of his old professor, Morrie Schwartz, while watching TV and learns that he is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Having made a promise 16 years ago to keep in touch, he finally goes to visit him. Through his visits with Morrie every Tuesday, whom he calls coach, he begins his final lesson in life. He puts everything on hold as he begins to organize his own life first. This book is very deep and moving, full of inspiration and many thought provoking subjects. It’s a book that will leave everyone in tears from beginning to end.

Subject Headings: Schwartz, Morrie S.
Brandeis University Faculty Biography.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Patients United States Biography.
Teacher-student relationships United States Case studies.
Death Psychological aspects Case studies. Life lesson.

Appeal: fast-paced, passionate, gentle, heartwarming, moving, philosophical, inspiring, sympathetic, intimate, thought-provoking, deep, enlightening, and conclusive

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  moving, inspirational, and heartwarming

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Pausch, Randy and Jeffrey Zaslow – The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch is a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who was disagnosed with terminal cancer and he decides to give a last lesson about living)

Callanan, Maggie – Final Gifts: understanding the special awareness, needs, and communications of the dying (Story of two nurses, Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, sharing their intimate experience of tending to terminally ill patients)

Canfield, Jack, et al. – Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales: 101 Inspirational stories from great teachers and appreciative students (Stories from both students and teachers with their memories and lessons in and out of school)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Coelho, Paulo – The Alchemist (A journey by a shepherd boy name Santiago. He travels from Spain to Egypt and teaches the readers about the wisdom of listening to our hearts as he reads the omens and teaches us to follow our dreams)

Hesse, Hermann – The Journey to the East (A journey of a man in search of enlightenment while struggling with spiritualism)

Gaines, Ernest J. – A Lesson Before Dying (Jefferson was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. There, he is visited by a teacher names Grant Wiggins. Through the visits, both men rediscover themselves.)

Name: Jun Yoon

Truth and Beauty

April 4, 2012

Author: Ann Patchett

Ttitle: Truth and Beauty: A Friendship

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: April 5, 2005

Number of Pages: 257

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Present Day

Plot Summary: In this memoir, Ann Patchett describes her twenty-year friendship with fellow writer, Lucy Grealy.  Their friendship began in 1981, after enrolling in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.  Patchett recalls the years of facing artistic, medical, economic, and emotional upheavals together.  With devotion unlike any other, Patchett remained a loyal friend to Grealy.  This book is a moving account of women’s friendship, and what it means to stand together through it all.

Subject Headings: Adult books for young adults; Autobiographies (Adult literature); Biography; Family and Relationships; Memoirs

Appeal: moving, lyrical, character-driven, contemporary, accessible, engaging, heartwarming, bittersweet, inspiring, compelling, complex, well-crafted

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

Similar Author and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  1. Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy. The author’s account of her childhood battle with a rare form of cancer known as Ewing’s sarcoma.  After many chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Grealy was left severely disfigured as a young girl.  In this biography, she talks about the pain and frustration of her struggle with cancer, and years later, her fight to feel beautiful in a society obsessed with physical appearances.
  2. Comrades, Stephen E. Ambrose.  The author takes a look at his personal friendships and friendships among fellow soldiers and colleagues.  The tone of this book is comparable to Truth in Beauty in that it is moving.  It offers a different perspective on relationships because it examines male friendships.
  3. The Blue Bear: A True Story of Friendship, Tragedy, and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness, Lynn Schooler.  The author’s personal journey through Alaska’s Glacier Coast in the quest to photograph the elusive glacier bear.  Thoughtful and engaging, this memoir is a wonderful mix of heartache and profound beauty.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

  1. The Good Life, Jay McInerney.  An essential novel about the events of 9/11.  How September 11, 2001 caused a group of privileged New Yorkers’ to reassess their lives.
  2. Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Ayelet Waldman.  Emily Greenleaf is faced with a challenge in trying to connect with her five-hear-old stepson, William.  It only becomes more difficult when she suffers the loss of her baby girl.  This book is character-driven and moving.
  3. The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster, Kaye Gibbons.  The sequel to Ellen Foster, now fifteen-year-old, orphaned Ellen Foster must learn how to adjust to life in a new home with a new mother.  Character-driven, moving and homespun this book is not to be missed.

Name: Erin Shinneman