Posts Tagged ‘nonlinear’


November 18, 2009


Author: Octavia E. Butler
Publication Date:
1979 (original), 2003 (anniversary edition)
Number of Pages:
Science Fiction, African-American Literature
Geographical Setting:
Los Angeles, California in 1976 and the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1810-1835
Time Period:
June-July 1976 simultaneous with 1810-1835

Plot Summary: Dana Franklin is a modern Black woman in the Civil Rights Era, married to a white man, who is inexplicably pulled back through time to the antebellum South to save the life of Rufus Weylin, an ancestor of hers who also happens to be a white slaveowner.  Dana is pulled back time after time, and must ensure that her family line can happen, no matter what the cost.

Subject Headings: AncestorsRescuesInterracial couplesTime travel (Past)African-American womenSlavery — MarylandSlaveholdersMaryland — History — 19th centuryMaryland — History — 20th centuryAfrican-American fiction — 20th centuryScience fiction, African-American

Appeal: compelling, densely written, steady, closely observed, strong secondary characters, lifelike, description of slave life in antebellum time period, vivid, episodic, issue-oriented, time travel, nonlinear, detailed setting, rural, evocative, chilling, moody, emotionally-charged, earnest, dramatic, earthy, direct

Three terms that best describe this book: Mind-teasing, Involving, Heartfelt

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction): The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (similar to Butler’s last novel, good segue between authors)
He, She and It by Marge Piercy (set in post-apocalyptic future, like Butler’s Parable books, similar tone)
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card (themes of slavery and redemption, affecting one person’s life to affect a timeline)

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction): Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball (nonfiction about slavery and the American South, from a family point of view)
Doers of the Word: African American Women Speakers and Writers in the North (1830-1880) by Carla L. Peterson (African-American women willing to speak out, like Dana, only not fictionalized)
The Women who Raised Me: A Memoir by Victoria Rowell (a look at the matriarchal society of African-Americans, could have grown out of the split families slavery caused)

Name: Anne

The House on Mango Street

November 18, 2009

Author: Cisneros, Sandra

Title: The House on Mango Street

Genre: multicultural fiction

Publication Date: 1984

Geographical Setting: Chicago

Time Period: 1980s

Series: no

Plot Summary: Esperanza Cordero is an 11-year-old Mexican American girl growing up in a shabby apartment in the barrio of Chicago. She dreams of someday moving to an actual house with a yard – her version of the American dream. But first she must escape the oppressive environment around her, full of poverty, violence, fear, and disregard for women. She watches as a beloved aunt dies from illness, friends are married off before they reach eighth grade, and others stay trapped in their homes because they cannot speak English or they cannot go outside without their husband’s permission. Her only hope is to work hard in school and stay out of trouble. As a friend’s aunt reminds her, however, “When you leave, you must remember to come back for the others… you can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.”

The book is made up of short stories and lyrical prose that tell an overall story. Written in first person, the narration is childlike, telling the stories of Esperanza’s friends, family, and neighbors through her 11-year-old eyes. Cisneros writes thoughtful descriptions of Esperanza’s colorful neighborhood and the people who live in it. The stories are told like memories—not following a linear plot. Instead, readers get an inside look at what it is like to grow up poor and Hispanic in a big city. The mood is earnest, sad, yet hopeful, with an unresolved ending that you hope turns out well.

Appeal Terms: personal, nuanced, spare, simple, nonlinear, first person narration, moving, poetic, lyrical, vivid, innocent, coming of age story, character centered, intergenerational, descriptive, urban, unpretentious, colorful, serious, thoughtful, female empowerment in a male dominated culture, inspiring, Mexican American immigrant experience, violent, set in Chicago, unresolved ending

Subject Headings: Mexican American fiction – immigrant experiencehome – memories – family and relationships – poverty – physical abuse – rape – short stories – adolescence – Latino neighborhoods of Chicago – female empowerment

Three Terms that Best Describe the Book: vivid imagery, coming-of-age story, immigrant experience

Three Nonfiction Titles:

Barrio: Photographs from Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village by Paul D’Amato
– A collection of 90 images taken of life on the streets and in the homes of the Mexican American communities of Pilsen and Little Village.

Home: The Blueprint of Our Lives edited by John Edwards
– A collection of brief, evocative personal essays and photographs from 60 contributors—some famous, some not—about the houses they remember and family relationships.

The Latin Deli: Telling the Lives of Barrio Women by Judith Ortiz Cofer
– An autobiographical assortment of essays and poems

Three Fiction Titles:

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
– The story of four sisters who must adjust to life in America after having to flee from the Dominican Republic

Flight and Other Stories by Jose Skinner
– Realistic stories about Latinos living in the American Southwest

Migrations and Other Stories by Lisa Hernandez
– Short stories present the life, loves, and predicaments of very different Chicana women in America.