Posts Tagged ‘intimate’

Heartwood

October 31, 2012

Publication Date: 2011

Author: Belva Plain

Title: Heartwood

Genre: Women Lives and Relationships

Number of Pages: 311

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: 1979-1983

Series (If applicable): Werner Family Saga

Plot Summary: The last novel in the Werner Family Saga, Heartwood is a leisurely-paced story about Iris Stern’s family life. Set in the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, Iris Stern, who is a daughter of a Polish-Jewish immigrant and a professor at a university. Even though she is a modern woman with a successful career, but when it comes to family, she is more old-fashioned. Even when her marriage is unwinding, Iris stays with her husband, Theo. Additionally; Heartwood goes into the adult lives of Iris’s three children, which are two boys and a girl. Although all three of her children are described in the story, it mainly goes back and forth between Iris and her only daughter Laura. Laura married her husband Robbie in college because she was pregnant with her daughter Katie. Laura’s marriage to Robby is on the rocks because she has found success in her catering business and Robby cannot adapt to the fact that she is the breadwinner. The heartwarming novel explains the stories of Iris and Laura’s secrets, hardships and happy moments in their marriages and family life.

Subject Headings: Jewish women – New York City; options, alternatives, choices; family secrets – New York City; Jewish families; Adult children – family relationships; stern family

Appeal: character-driven; detailed; engaging; family-centered; heartwarming; intimate; leisurely-paced; moving; nostalgic; reflective; romantic; straightforward; well-developed

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: family-centered; heartwarming; leisurely-paced

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

– Pearlman, Ann, Infidelity (autobiography of three generations of a Jewish family and there family secrets)

– Rosen, Ruth, The world split open: how the modern women’s movement changed America (explains why women’s movement changed America,  how women like Iris and Laura can be successful women in the late 1970s into the early 1980s because of the impact of the women’s movement)

– Schulman, Bruce J., The seventies: the great shift in American culture, society, and politics (describes the cultural and political history of the 1970s which is when Heartwood took place)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

– Bradford, Barbara Taylor, 1933-, A Women of Substance ( first book of Harte family saga throughout several generations, woman who immigrated from Europe)

– Kristin Hannah, Winter Garden (mother-daughter relationship, secrets of family- history)

– Sullivan, J. Courtney, Maine (three generations of women who have different values, hidden secrets)

Name: Samantha Biegel

The Color of Water

August 14, 2012

Author:  James McBride

Title:  The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

Genre:  Nonfiction, Multicultural, Biography, Memoir

Publication Date:  1996

Number of Pages: 285

Geographical Setting:  Suffolk, Virginia, New York City

Time Period:  1930s-1990s.

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  “God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.”

Growing up, James McBride noticed his mother did not look like him or his eleven brothers and sisters.  She didn’t look like anyone in the New York projects where they lived.  He would repeatedly ask her why she does not look like they do; she’d reply she was light skinned, that was she was a human being and not to worry about it, anything to not talk about it.  None of that matter to her; what mattered was school and church.  As an adult, James persuaded his mother, Ruth to tell her story.  She shared the story of a Jewish girl born in Poland to a Rabbi and her loving mother, immigrating to the United States, and raised in the south.  When she was twenty, she escaped to Harlem, where she married a black man in the 1940s, and converted to Christianity, thereby renouncing her Jewish background and family.  This biographical memoir takes the readers into Ruth’s world, growing up in the 1930’s to the present, while also taking readers into James’s upbringing in Ruth’s household in the 1960s.

Subject Headings:  Racially mixed people – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Mothers – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Whites – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Racially mixed people –Race identity, New York (N.Y.) – Biography.  Family and Relationships – Families.  Biography – Everyday People.  Christianity.  Judaism.

Appeal:  Inspirational, character-driven, heartwarming, thoughtful, leisurely-paced, steady, compassionate, flawed, realistic, sympathetic, family-centered, intimate, thoughtful.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Inspirational, character-driven, thoughtful.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He was Black by Gregory Howard Williams.  The author recounts the shocking experience of learning his father’s relatives in Indiana were poor and Black and the resulting prejudice him and his brother experienced from both sides.  Like Color of Water, these two memoirs address a young man’s search for his racial and ethnic identity while growing up with a white mother and an African-American father.

The Color of Love: A Mother’s Choice in Jim Crow South by Gene Cheek.  This memoir presents a story surrounding the year 1963 in during the Jim Crow era, where the author was removed from his mother’s custody because she has a half-mixed baby.  While the exact circumstances differ, both books are moving accounts of the southern United States, racial tension, poverty and the struggle for identity and feeling of belonging.

The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South by Eli N. Evans, Willie Morris.  This is a classic portrait of Jews in the South.   Authors Evans and Morris takes readers inside the nexus of southern and Jewish histories.  This book gives the reader a closer look to what it was like to be Jewish in the south, straddling the line between black and white, that Ruth McBride Jordan experienced.

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

Stopping for Green Lights by Alyce Miller.  This coming of age book set in the 1960s is about a cynical young white woman, yearning to fit in with her Black friends, falling in love with a nineteen year old Black man, who teaches her a hard lesson by his betrayal.  This fictional account shares similar subject and appeal terms, like coming of age, racial identity and the sixties, which was part of the back drop in The Color of Water.

Joshua’s Bible by Shelly Leanne. Philadelphia minister Joshua Clay is sent to South Africa, to be the first black minister in years.  He struggles to minister during the apartheid-era 1930s.  This story shares the Christianity tones, racial struggle and adversity during a time period that was featured in The Color of Water.

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank. This fictional tale follows observations by Sophie Applebaum of her Jewish Pennsylvania family over the course of twenty years.  This story is a readalike because it features the dynamic of a Jewish family.

Name:  Olivia Button

Casanova: The Venetian Years

April 18, 2012

Title: Casanova: The Venetian Years

Author: Giacomo Casanova (Author), Benedict Cumberbatch (Reader)

Genre: Nonfiction, Audiobook

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: N/A

Geographical Setting: Italy

Time Period: 1725-1798

Plot Summary: The story of Giacomo Casanova, scholar, adventurer, traveler, soilder and political ally, yet he is more often known for his womanizing  ways, which has made the name “Casanova”  synonymous for a charismatic womanizer. The audiobook version is read by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch whose calm and snarky voice really adds to the humor of the story, as well as being very deep and charismatic, which adds to the more racy scenes. His reading of the story only adds more dimension to the tale, rather than taking anything away.

Subject Headings:

Adventure and Adventures – Biography
Courts and Courtiers – Biography
Casanova, Giacomo, 1725-1798.
Europe – History – Biography

Appeal: engrossing, leisurely-paced, atmospheric, chatty, passionate, smart, graceful, historical details, intimate, political, cinematic, sexually explicit, romp, emotionally charged, playful,

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Sexually explicit, passionate, cinematic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre-Ambrois-Francois Choderlos de Laclos

Aristocrats and ex-lovers Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont embark on a sophisticated game of seduction and manipulation to bring fun to their lives. They challenge each other to seduce others until their lives begin to spin out of control.

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists – Neil Strauss

Author Neil Strauss goes undercover into a secret world where he is taught the art of being a pick up artist. This book covers the two year span in which Strauss trained to be a pick up artist, as well as his highs and lows as one and helpful tips on how to seduce the opposite sex.

Introducing NLP: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People – Joseph O’Connor

For those who might not be interested in Casanova’s romantic skill but rather his ability to manipulate and coerce people into doing his bidding. An interesting read for anyone who wishes to figure out how to use their understanding of other people in order to get ahead in life and business.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

One Last Look – Susanna Moore

Moving to an English settlement in Calcutta, India in the 1830s, Ladies Eleanor & Harriet expect to hate their time there but instead find a new life full of seduction and exotic cultures and men.

Goddess of the Hunt – Tessa Dar

A steamy historical romance in which our main character, Lucy Waltham attempts to seduce her brother’s best friend while trying to get a different man to marry her. She must choose which man is better suited to her adventurous spirit and passionate hidden life.

Terrorist – John Updike

A seduction of another kind. Eighteen-year-old Ahmad, the son of an Irish-American mother and Egyptian father, finds himself rejecting the capitalist and obsessive society around him. He becomes drawn to the teachings of Islam and along the way finds himself pulled into a terrorist plot.

Name: Courtney Rose

Trumpet

April 11, 2012

Author – Jackie Kay

Title- Trumpet

Genre –GLBTQ, Literary Fiction

Publication Date – 1998

Number of Pages – 288

Geographical Setting – London & Scotland

Time Period – 1960s – 1990s

Series – N/A

Plot Summary – Trumpet is the haunting and beautiful story of Joss Moody.  Moody, based on real life Billy Tipton, is a famous African American jazz trumpeter who was born female, but identifies as male.  She lives her entire life masquerading as a male, revealing the secret only to her wife, Millie.  The story begins after Moody’s death, when her ‘real’ identity has been discovered through an autopsy.

Touching on themes of identity, love, secrecy and racism, this novel is a captivating and emotional read.  Told from multiple perspectives, readers are given insight into the minds of Millie, Coleman (Moody’s son), the coroner, a journalist attempting to write a tell-all biography on Moody’s life, and many otherss.

Subject Headings – Family Secrets; Identity (Psychology); Jazz; Male Impersonators; Racism; Scotland; Transsexuals; Trumpet Players; Grief

Appeal – Lyrical, Haunting, Thought-Provoking, Poetic, Shocking, Romantic, Intimate, Engaging, Unusual, Multiple Points of View, Quirky, Entertaining

3 Appeal Terms That Best Describe the Book – Thought-Provoking, Unusual, Haunting

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works –

Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs (Various Authors): This work is a compilation of essays written by transsexuals focusing on their individual quests to find their true selves. Readers who were interested in the transsexual aspect of Trumpet will likely enjoy these first person accounts.

Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton (by Diane Wood Middlebrook): This book is the biography of Billy Tipton, the transsexual trumpet player who Jackie Kay based Trumpet on.  Trumpet is a fictionalized account of Billy Tipton’s story.  Readers who wish for the factual version of Trumpet will certaily enjoy this biography.

The History of Jazz (by Ted Gioia): This book is a comprehensive history of jazz.  Touching on the origins of jazz, the various styles, the places where the genre evolved, and commentary on the style itself, this work will interest readers who enjoyed the musical aspect of Trumpet.

3 Relevant Fiction Works –

Stone Butch Blues (by Leslie Feinberg) – This novel tells the story of Jess, a woman who lives her life as a man. Throughout the novel she is undergoing a transsexual operation, in secret, as well as searching for a community of her own. Readers who wish for a different book about a woman living her life as a man would likely enjoy this read.

Floating (by Nicole Williams-Bailey) – This book is about a young woman coming to terms with her identity.  As the daughter of a white socialite and a black alcoholic, she is continuously rejected by both the white and black communities. This book would appeal to readers who were interested in the struggles found in Trumpet regarding interracial relations.

The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse (by Louise Erdrich)- This is a lyrical and haunting novel about a dying priest who is asked to prove the sainthood of a woman, while guarding a secret about his identity in the process. This will appeal to readers who enjoyed how Trumpet was written from multiple perspectives, and also for those who liked reading about someone protecting a secret regarding their identity.

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

The Boys on the Rock

April 11, 2012

Author: John Fox

Title: The Boys on the Rock

Genre: LGBT

Publication Date: 1984

Number of Pages: 146p.

Geographical Setting: Bronx, N.Y.

Time Period: 1968

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: It’s 1968 in the Bronx and Catholic High School sophomore, swim team star, and narrator Billy Connor is gay and knows it and likes it.  Unfortunately, he has only been able to explore his sexuality in very frequent, detailed, creative, and enthusiastic masturbation sessions that the reader will come to know very well.  Billy, not wanting to be drafted and sent to Vietnam, is a Gene McCarthy supporter who meets Al, the head of the local McCarthy campaign office.  Canvassing soon leads to lingering dinners at a pizzeria, which leads to making out, which of course leads to the sex that Billy has longed for.  Billy is very talented in graphic and detailed accounts of his and Al’s lovemaking, leaving not a thing to the reader’s imagination.  While Billy feels newly free and empowered by his relationship with Al, is it really love?  And is it a love that will last?  With the tumultuous Democratic presidential primary and a colorful cast of neighborhood friends and eccentrics as a constant backdrop, Billy brings the reader along for the first few baby steps he will take onto the path that will lead him to the man he will become.

Subject Headings: Coming of age stories, Gay teenagers, Eroticism, U.S. history–1968, Presidential elections–1968, First love, Homosexuality, Graphic sex–homosexual, Graphic sex–heterosexual, Political assassination, Gene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, Bronx, Competitive swimming, Catholic school, Homophobia, Nostalgia, Masturbation.

Appeal: Quick-paced, bittersweet, candid, passionate, adolescent, horny, dramatic, edgy, sexual, graphic, gritty, impassioned, nostalgic, naive, sensual, romantic, unpretentious, foul-mouthed, colorful, unrelenting, rebellious, melancholy, vivid, sexually explicit, steamy, issue-oriented, introspective, retrospective, political, historical detail, urban, colloquial, dialect, direct, unaffected, hormonal, empowering, gay, sweaty, messy, intimate, personal discovery, sexual discovery.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: adolescent, gritty, sexually explicit.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition by Alex Comfort

The Joy of Gay Sex, Revised & Expanded by Charles Silverstein and Felice Picano

The Joy of Lesbian Sex: A Tender and Liberated Guide to the Pleasures and Problems of a Lesbian Lifestyle by Dr. Emily L. Sisley and Bertha Harris

Yes, I know three books are not one book, but I feel I must evoke an “apples and oranges” (and “pears”[?]) exception in this case.  For people that may find appeal in any of these works, two titles will be completely useless (sort of) to them.  And the goal is to be able to satisfy 100% of readers, yes?

There is so much graphic sex and language in Boys that it would seem almost impossible that a reader wouldn’t take some stock of their own romantic life at some point.  These seminal, highly respected, and somewhat clinical works are certainly the “safe” and “tasteful” (yet graphically illustrated) suggestions that could be a stepping off point for a reader who may want to explore better or newer ways in which to get their freak on.

Time 1968: War Abroad, Riots at Home, Fallen Leaders and Lunar Dreams

The United States +1968= CRAZY: MLK shot, RFK shot, protests, race riots, political riots, cities on fire, Vietnam, Tet Offensive, Chicago Democratic Convention (police beatings and rioting and the MC5, for those too young), drugs, sex, rock and roll, men on the moon—and those are just the headlines.

While the rebellion, protest, and awakening of Billy’s 1968 took place mostly in his head and underwear, there is much happening around him that will inform a bevvy of decisions, political and not.  Here is an overview of that year with lots of color pictures.

Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter

One year later from Billy’s awakening, the gay community of Greenwich Village rose up against police harassment to spark the beginning of the gay rights movement.  I can vividly picture Billy chanting slogans and punching cops in the face.  Here is a timeline of the events leading up to, and the riots themselves, as well as the aftermath.  This comprehensive account is the result of hundreds of interviews, public and sealed files, and a decade of research.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Forever by Judy Blume

If one took a plot synopsis of Boys and replaced the Bronx with a woodsy, well-to-do suburb, and weekends of beer in the park with ski trips, and animalistic gay sex with meticulously thought-out hetero sex, and Billy with a Katherine, and a cowardly Al with an impossibly sensitive Michael and then washed everyone’s mouths out with soap, one would be left holding a copy of Forever. Had those who have taken the often challenged Forever (ALA 7th all-time) to trial had known that Boys may have been right around the corner, I shudder to think at the number of libraries that may have burned.  While certainly trying to please entirely different audiences, these two books are identical thematically, giving Forever large appeal to the reader who may have picked up Boys hoping for a sentimental tale of teenage sexual awakening, but just not as sticky.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Luckily for the high-school kids that populate Boy Meets Boy, Levithan has created a bizarro-world town where there is no prejudice of any sort, especially sexual.  This bodes well for a school that features a Harley riding cheerleading squad and a cross-dressing star quarterback/Homecoming Queen.  The book centers on Paul, who thinks he finally may have found true love in Noah.  Simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking, Levithan brilliantly illustrates that freed of the burden of prejudice, hatred, and ignorance these are just kids, whatever their sexual orientation, awkwardly trying to find their place in the world and maybe a little happiness, too.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2011 by D.L. King, Giselle Renarde, Kathleen Warnock and Kirsty Logan

Best Gay Erotica 2011 by Johnny Murdoc, Natty Soltesz, and Rob Wolfsham

Sweet Confessions: Erotic Fantasies for Couples by Violet Blue

Again, I must use the “apples and oranges” rule exception.  For any reader of Boys that enjoyed the very detailed and descriptive sex scenes, here you go: a little something for everyone.

Name: Bill S.

Love is A Mix Tape

November 10, 2011

Author: Rob Sheffield

Title: Love is a Mix Tape

Genre: Non Fiction/Memoir

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 224

Geographical Setting: Charlottesville

Time Period: 1990s

Plot Summary: Rob Sheffield is a tall, geeky, quiet rock critic from Boston; Rene is a loud, short, punk-rock Appalachian. They have nothing in common but music. In this memoir, Sheffield uses mix tapes that he and Rene made for each other to recount their courtship, marriage—and her eventual sudden death from a blood clot. But it is those same songs they loved that allow him to heal.

Subject Headings: Journalists, Music Critics, memoir, popular music,

Appeal: leisurely-paced, bittersweet, heartwarming, nostalgic, candid, witty, intimate, moving, conversational, inspirational, character-centered,humorous

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: bittersweet, nostalgic, candid

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Almond, Steve. Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life. A memoir about a rock critic, and how music eventually connects him with the love of his life.

Bangs, Lester. Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic. Rob’s a rock critic, and there’s no better rock critic than Bangs, who like Sheffield believes in the power of music to change people.

Bitner, Jason (ed). Cassettes from My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves. A collection of essays from various authors sharing stories of mix tapes from former lovers.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Cohn, Rachel and David Levithan. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Nick and Norah meet, and seem to have little in common, except for a mutual love in music. Over the course of one night, they fall in love to a mix-tape soundtrack.

Hornby, Nick. High Fidelity. Rob Fleming is a British record store owner; after his girlfriend leaves him, he re-evaluates his life. Both Robs are obsessed with music and use it to make sense of their worlds.

Meno, Joe. Hairstyles of the Damned. Brian, a quiet, awkward boy is secretly in love with Gretchen, his loud, punk-rock best friend.

Name: Brian C

Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir

November 8, 2011

Author: Fatima Bhutto

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

Genre: Biography, World History

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 470

Geographical Setting: Pakistan

Time Period: 1933-present

Series (If applicable):
n/a

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

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

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

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

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

Name: Noelle Swanson

 

The Bluest Eye

August 17, 2011

Author: Toni Morrison

Title: The Bluest Eye

Genre: Literary Fiction,  African-American

Publication Date: 1970

No. of Pages: 224

Geographical Setting: Lorain, Ohio

Time Period: Years following the Great Depression

Series: NA

Plot Summary: An African-American family, the MacTeers, is struggling out of the Great Depression in Lorain, Ohio when they take in a troubled girl from a rough background, Pecola, when she is forced “outdoors.” All her life Pecola has hid behind the “ugliness” of her dark skin and brown eyes, always wishing and praying for beautiful blue eyes. As she struggles to find her way with a strange new family, her own family fights against their demons of racism, alcoholism and sexual depravity.

While Pecola and her fervent wish for blue eyes may be the focus of The Bluest Eye, her character is rarely developed throughout the story. Rather her struggles and gradual surrender to insanity are documented through the eyes of those closest to her, effectively underscoring the actions of the remaining characters. This is a story of vulnerability and of a young girl unable to overcome her circumstances, even to get blue eyes. Readers should be aware of several disturbing scenes that are sexual in nature.

Subject Headings: African-Americans, Racism – United States, Family Relations

Appeal: unhurried, emotionally-charged, character-centered, vivid, flawed, historical details, timeless, intimate, poignant, dialect, gritty, stark

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: emotionally-charged, flawed, gritty

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race by Jennifer Ritterhouse (Explores the unwritten rules of segregation in the South that guided child development)

Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith (A Southern white view of the psychological and moral consequences of the Southern mindset on sin, sex and segregation)

In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (The companion book to the PBS series, Gates helps 19 individuals explore their pasts while gaining a better understanding of their own personality)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Uncle Tom’s Children by Richard Wright (A collection of powerful novellas illustrating the racism and oppression African-Americans lived with in the post-slavery era – originally published in 1938, this plays out in the same time period of The Bluest Eye and delves into some of the same issues of race)

Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell (A poor white family of sharecroppers struggles to survive during the Depression and retain their slim social standing among the black community they live – similar backdrop of the Great Depression and familial tensions)

Oral History by Lee Smith (A college student returns to her childhood home in the Appalachians to research the complex and cursed history of her family – a similar story of a doomed family and all their flaws and foibles)

by Denise

No-No Boy

August 17, 2011

Author: John Okada

Title: No-No Boy

Genre: Multi-cultural, Asian-American

Publication Date: 1957

Number of Pages: 260

Geographical Setting: Seattle, WA

Time Period: 1945, just following World War II

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: 25 year old Ichiro grew up in Seattle, but for four years sat captive, experiencing the horrors of internment camps and prisons. The United States punished Ichiro, as they did countless Japanese-Americans, because he resembled the enemy. Ichiro was a no-no boy, a Japanese-American who refused to fight in WWII. Now, the country he loved and viewed as a beacon of hope has turned its back on him because he did not have the heart to fight a war. Following the end of WWII and his release from prison, Ichiro constantly struggles with shame and regret for his decision. Although Ichiro’s parents represent his biggest supporters, home offers little comfort; Ichiro’s mother believes Japan has won the war and awaits the arrival of Japanese ships to bring the family home. Meanwhile, Ichiro’s internal struggles alter his once bright personality and strong ambition. The only chance for Ichiro to regain his lost identity is through friendship and self-acceptance.
Okada, a Japanese-American, respectfully and accurately depicts the struggles of Japanese-Americans following World War II. The author examines key issues related to immigration including profound conflicts of culture and racism. Okada does so in a detailed and accessible manner. The themes and writing style render this book a timeless resource for any one living, or curious about, the immigrant experience in the United States.

Subject Headings: Japanese-Americans; Japanese-Americans—Mass Internment, 1942-1945; Immigrants–United States; Racism–United States; Post World War II; Japanese-Americans–Family Relations; Suicide; Conflicts of Culture–United States

Appeal: Relaxed, Emotionally-charged, Poignant, Sympathetic, Evocative, Introspective, Issue oriented, Thought-provoking, Character-centered, Historical Details, Accurate, Timeless, Accessible, Intimate, Dialect, Detailed, Flashbacks

Three Terms that Best Describe this Book: Character-centered, Emotionally-charged, Timeless

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
(This memoir offers an emotionally-charged account of Japanese-American internment during WWII and the experience of Japanese-Americans following the war. Like No-No Boy, this book offers the perspective of a young Japanese-American during WWII who experiences racism, imprisonment, and culture conflicts.)

Paper Daughter by Elaine M. Mar
(Although the frame of this book differs slightly from No-No Boy because it involves Chinese immigrants in a more contemporary setting, this autobiography manages to accurately and emotionally convey the immigrant experience in the United States. A distinct similarity between the books involves the account of the struggles between an immigrant mother who denies American values and a child who embraces them,)

Looking like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald
(Gruenewald offers an emotionally-charged and accurate description of life in internment camps during WWII. The Japanese-American author offers numerous historical details in an accessible manner. The result is a timeless book about racism, immigration, overcoming adversity, and self-acceptance.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
(This novel revolves around the tumultuous life of a Japanese-American who has just returned to the Pacific Northwest after being held captive in an internment camp. The novel appears character-driven, issue oriented, and presented at a relaxed pace. Racism represents one of the most thought-provoking issues tackled in the book.)

Color of the Sea by John Hamamura
(This story details the experiences of a Japanese-American man who is torn away from his loved ones after they are placed in an internment camp. The main character deals with a major conflict of culture as he enlists in the US army to carry out a secret mission upon Japan. This issue-oriented and character-centered book offers a timeless account of prejudice and racism. The writing style accessible and detailed.)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
(This thought-provoking and issue-oriented classic tackles racism, stereotype, and prejudice within a single US community. The plot revolves around the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman. This is a timeless, coming-of-age story told through the prospective of a young protagonist. The storyline is character-driven.)