Posts Tagged ‘Unresolved ending’

Shanghai Girls

February 15, 2012

Author: See, Lisa

Title: Shanghai Girls

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 314

Geographical Setting: China, United States (Los Angeles)

Time Period: 1937-1957

Series: 1st of sequel (Dreams of Joy)

Plot Summary:

Sisters, Pearl and May live a care-free and enjoyable life of modeling and luxuries wealthier Chinese were afforded in the 1930s until one day their lives were changed forever.  Forced into arranged marriages with two brothers, the girls are forced to flee war-torn China and head to America to be with their husbands.  Life in America is hard for the women, forced to live with and work for in-laws that appear to be cruel.  The women must rely on each other through the many struggles they face. This book explores complicated family relationships and the difficulties of immigration, especially for Chinese in the 1950s.

Subject Headings: Chinese-American women, Immigrants-United States, The Thirties (20th century), Sisters, Chinese-American immigrants, Father and daughter, Husband and wife, Family secrets, Betrayal, Loyalty.

Appeal: leisurely paced, bittersweet, moving, emotionally charged, well-developed characters, strong secondary character, character-centered, unresolved ending, historical, descriptive writing, sobering, family-centered

3 Appeal terms to best describe book: moving, character-centered, family-centered

3 Fiction read-alikes:

Paradise Alley, by Kevin Baker. This book was chosen because it is about immigrants, and suspicion being cast upon them. This book is also historical fiction, and explores racism, and parts of history that aren’t often discussed.

Away, by Amy Bloom. This was chosen because it deals with issues of immigration in the early 20th century.  It also deals with a mothers love for her daughter.  It also has rich, fully developed characters, and is read at a relaxed pace.

The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. This book is similar in that it is about women immigrants to the U.S.  and it deals with stereotyping and skepticism during the war. It also explores the hardships of raising children in the U.S. with a culture very different from yours. Like Shanghai Girls, it is character driven, historical, moving, and sobering.

3 Non-fiction read-alikes:

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family, by Mary S. Lovell.  This book explores the lives and relationships between 6 sisters who take different paths in life.

Girlfriends: Invisible Bonds, Enduring Ties, by Carmen Renee Barry. This book explores the loyalty and sometimes complicated relationships between women friends. The friendship between May and Pearl is an important theme in the book.

The Rice Groom: Growing up Chinese-American: From Number Two Son to Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Ben Fong-Torres.  This book is about growing up Chinese in Oakland’s Chinatown in the 1950s, and facing discrimination.

The 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.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

October 28, 2009

Author:  Jeff Lindsay

Title:  Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Publication Date:  2004

Number of Pages:  304

Geographical Setting: Miami, Florida

Time Period: Present Day

Series (If Applicable): Dexter, 1

Plot Summary:  Dexter Morgan is a blood-splatter analyst for the Miami police department.  This is a good job for him because Dexter has a secret life that only he and his late foster father Harry knew about.  Inside Dexter is a monster who needs to kill and it is currently controlled by the “Code of Harry” which states that Dexter is only to kill bad guys – not good guys.  This job keeps him close to those bad guys that need to be taken care of.  A killer is on the loose in Miami cutting up women and Dexter starts to relate to the killer and uses his insight to help his sister, Deborah, who is also a cop move from “streetwalker” patrol to homicide.  Dexter understands what makes this guy tick and he begins to admire the killers work.  He struggles to live his life like other normal humans but inside he feels the Dark Passenger demand that he kill again.

Subject Headings:  Serial murderers, Forensic scientists, Psychopathic criminals, Vigilantes,
Murderer-detectives, Adoptees, PolicewomenMiami, Florida, PoliceMiami, Florida,
Brothers and sisters, Father and son, Serial murders, Serial murder investigation, Crime scene searches, Crime laboratories, Mutilation, Secrets, Personal conduct, Men/women relations,
Miami, Florida, Psychological suspense stories

Appeal: Dark, Methodical, Thriller, Horror, Graphic, Mutilation, Ominous, Strange, Twists, Unresolved ending, Series, Chilling, Measured Pacing, First Person Narration, Creepy, Psychological Suspense, Madness, Serial Killers, Disturbing, Page-Turner.

3 Terms that best describe this book: Disturbing, Graphic and Suspenseful

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

3 Non-Fiction Works

Inside the Minds of Serial Killers: Why They Kill by Katherine Ramsland – This book details a wide variety of motives for why people become serial killers. It shows that there is not a profile for serial killers.

Serial Killers: The Method and the Madness of Monsters by Peter Vronsky – This book talks about the history of serial killers and documents the psychological, investigative, and cultural aspects of serial murder.

Serial Killers and Mass Murderers: Profiles of the World’s Most Barbaric Criminals by Nigel Cawthorne – This book describes what makes ordinary people turn into killers.  It explores the minds of these people who commit these crimes and why people are so fascinated by them.

3 Fiction Works

Dearly Devoted Dexter: a Novel by Jeff Lindsay – Book 2 in the Dexter series continues the story of the first book.  There is a new serial killer on the loose and Sergeant Drakes is getting more suspicious of Dexter.

Deeper than the Dead by Tami Hoag – Two boys and a girl stumble on a murder victim of the “See No Evil Killer” who just may turn out to be the father of one of the boys.

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris – Will Graham has the ability to project himself into the minds of psychopathic serial killers.  He is called on to investigate the murders of two suburban families.

Name: Chris S.