Lisa Christie lives in Norwich with her two active boys, Hank and Mateo and her husband Chris. A nonprofit consultant, Lisa is the founder of Everybody Wins! Vermont, a program that brings reading mentors into local schools. She and Lisa Cadow - a former Norwich bookseller - created The Book Jam, a fun blog about books to "alleviate book jams (e.g., what to read tonight, what to take on that trip to Italy, what to get your mom, your best friend, your brother)". The Book Jam also supports the Norwich Bookstore and other independent booksellers through links to indie web sites and periodic live events.
When Gary Schmidt (one of my favorite authors) blurbs a book with the words, "I read this in two big gulps", I pay attention. This tale of two of the many children who were sent from London to the countryside for safety during WWll (think The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) is full of adventure, hardship, and ultimately love. I especially loved Ada and her feisty fight for her place in the world.
This small gem of a memoir about Marshall's life as a female African-American author began as a series of lectures at Harvard. The organizing theme is the role of water to the African-American experience. The words will leave you thinking.
THANK YOU Marion Cross School for featuring this as one of your Battle of the Books choices. Because of you, I have finally read this classic, and I am so glad I did. Ms. Taylor's writing is superb, and apparently brought out my southern accent as I read this aloud to my son. The tale of dangerous race relations in the USA is gripping, leaving my son to ask for one more chapter over and over again. Alone this book is superb, as a way to talk about today's headlines with a 4th grader, priceless.
Truly a superb book that illustrates what it is like to be a 4th grader, have an autistic older brother, a distracted teacher, and feel as if you were the cause of your father's life-altering accident. Basically it shows what it is like to be loved and to love.
This coming-of-age memoir shows what it is like to grow up smart, poor, black, and female in America. Ward's starting point is a two-year period shortly after she graduated college during which five boys who she loved and grew up with along the Mississippi Coast experienced violent deaths. While the material is brutal, the memoir is not; it is insightful, introspective, beautifully written, and important. Ward states that the series of deaths is "a brutal list, in its immediacy and its relentlessness, and it's a list that silences people. It silenced me for a long time."
This slim YA (young adult) novel looks at life as a refugee, this time in Poland during WWII. Anna's father never comes home from work one day and she is befriended by a mysterious stranger who remains nameless throughout the book. Somehow, the author makes walking in circles in Poland compelling and meaningful, especially in light of today's headlines from Syria. A great choice for fans of The Book Thief.
Told in two voices in alternating chapters, this YA (young adult) novel unravels what happens to a town when a white policeman beats a black teen. The authors wrote this in response to what they saw, while on book tour together, after Ferguson. And while some of the situations are convenient, overall, the book is a superb way to get your teen to talk about today's headlines; how race, upbringing. and situations all affect one's perspective; and how hard it is to "do the right thing." Oh, the fact one of the authors is white, one black, and both are award-winning YA authors is an added bonus.
My 13-year-old son (who self-describes as someone who hates reading) gave this to me when I was looking for a good book. I thank him. I am drawn to children's books written in verse, and Alexander's poetry did not disappoint. His lyrical, artistic, pointed, and poignant word choices expertly develop a narrative of closer-than-close twin brothers who are basketball stars, facing the first challenge to their relationship -- girls -- and trying to navigate their evolving relationship with their parents (a mom who is also their assistant principal complicates their lives quite a bit). This award-winning book is haunting me days after the last page was read.
While someone more familiar with the Bible and its historical figures will have to attest to the accuracy of the history in this novel, I truly enjoyed this moving and page-turning story of David. Brooks' depiction, through the eyes of the prophet (and David's conscience) Natan, allows for his flaws as well as his victories (e.g., Goliath). Brooks has created a genuine saga of faith, family, and raw ambition.Coincidentally and somehow fittingly, I finished this just as Rosh Hashanah began.
Olivia's mom died days after giving birth to her, her best friend's father has unraveled with the help of endless bottles of booze, her on-again/off-again boyfriend does not understand her, and her closest girlfriend is trying to live with a mother who is both absent and an addict. Sound depressing? Perhaps, but somehow Stanley uses all four characters to create a story of friendship, loyalty, and small town life that will stay with you long after the last page is finished.
Haunting. This novel can be read on so many level: as a straight story of brothers in trouble in Nigeria, or as a parable for Nigeria, even as a tale of how our expectations shape our reality. But on any level, it is good; perhaps my most memorable read from this summer. For me, what makes it even more amazing is that the author is 27 or 28. Catch this tale before the Booker (Prize) hype is too much.
An unique book told from the perspective of (and about) a transgendered elementary school student. This is the first published middle grade book by Alex Gino and feels true to what life as a transgendered child must be like for the child and those who love them. Important, short, and a great start of a discussion about diversity and acceptance and love.
I loved Lizzie, a young girl who loves accompanying her father on his doctor's rounds in early 1900s San Francisco, but instead must attend a school for girls to learn how to serve tea, dance, and become a lady. The influx of the plague in San Francisco's Chinatown and then beyond, changes everything as Lizzie fights to save her family's cook from the Chinatown quarantine. A great book for young lovers of historical fiction.
Told from the perspective of a young African-American girl, this is a story about life when the KKK dominates depression-era North Carolina. Every boy I read this book with -- ages 12, 10, 9 -- loved it.
A piece of jewelry unites the fates of several characters on a Palestinian kibbutz. A great debut, and a good story to help you explore the Palestinian conflict and what it takes to grow up, change, and make amends.
I have been fascinated by Beryl Markham since reading her memoir West with the Night (a book Hemingway also praised in a letter with: "[she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers.") In this novel, McLain creates a fictional account of Markham' remarkable life that fills in the holes her memoir left unanswered with more about her childhood, her horse training career, and her early marriage. A great beach read!
This novel looks at Malcolm X's formative years in Michigan, Boston, and New York City. Co-authored by his daughter and Magoon (author of another kids book I recommend, How it Went Down), this book humanizes a legend and illustrates how choices and your reactions to them shape your life.
A brief treatise of why men and women should be proud to be feminists penned by an amazing writer (Americanah).
So far, this is my go-to "beach book" for this summer. The title refers to the number of grapes required to make a bottle of wine; the story revolves around a Sonoma, CA, vineyard and the family who has tended it for decades. The novel launches with the narrator -- a successful LA lawyer with a lovely British architect for a fiance -- sitting, inappropriately dressed, in her brothers' bar after discovering there is more to her fiance than she thought. As she resides in the vineyard to think, she learns her fiance is not the only one with secrets. And yes, I was casting it for the inevitable movie as I read.
A fun, bittersweet summer novel set in Mallorca and spanning generations of the Spaniards and English who call it home, even if only for a few weeks each summer. Told backwards, the novel unravels what happened to cause a great love to sour, and shows all the effects of love gone awry. Be warned, the Mediterranean setting and its olive trees, beaches, succulent food, will have you booking tickets before you finish its last pages.
My sons and I listened to this as we commuted to various sporting events. They LOVED the humor and the history of this Cold War-era tale for young readers. Their highlights: the grown man who rides a tricycle, the main character who is grounded for life and becomes an obituary writer, the differing opinions of the narrators parents as to how to raise him. Bonus: Dead End in Norvelt won the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year’s best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction!
This amazing debut attaches faces and stories to the civil wars dominating today's news. Set in 1991 in Croatia and then in 2001 NYC, this novel explores war and its impact through the eyes of Croatian born Ana. What she experiences and witnesses at ten, will make your heart lurch. The impact of what she remembers at age 21 as a NYC college student will make your breath catch. How she emerges from it all will give you hope. Infused with gifted storytelling, this novel is a superb read. Bonus -- fans of A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon will be pleases to find traces of Mr. Marra's tale in these pages.
Well, I cried at the end of this one. This 2013 COSTA book of the year is touching, heart-breaking, unbelievably moving, bittersweet, and above all compelling. Told in a completely engaging manner in the first person by the main character - Matthew - this novel explores mental illness, what triggers it, how people help and hurt the patient's prognosis, and how the mentally ill function so well for so long, until they don't. As London's Daily Mail says, you're going to love it.