1960s to the present: Twins Stella and Desiree grew up in a mythical town of Mallard, Louisiana. Its citizens are proud of their black history but also the fact that they are light-skinned. Insular in their community, they keep to themselves and don’t associate with dark-skinned people. Within white society they are firmly rooted at the bottom of the social structure because of Jim Crow laws, considered black by their white neighbors. The town historically goes to great length to preserve its whiteness, despite being children of black ancestors. When the teenage twins run away from home they join two different worlds. One “passes” as white. The twins become heartbreakingly estranged for years, marrying and having families of their own, navigating motherhood, violence, racism—each seeking beyond herself for what is missing. The children they have become extensions of their mothers’ past traumas, each trying to fit in to a world that doesn’t fully accept them. This breathtaking novel is about sisters and mothers, racial identity and racism, gender identity, white privilege, losing ourselves and becoming who we are.
Comedian and The Daily Show host Trevor Noah tells stories of his childhood and teenage years in South Africa during apartheid. In order to get the full comedic effect and power of the events of his life, I recommend hearing him tell it.
I read this book several years ago because I was looking for an absorbing historical fiction novel and a bookseller told me that it’s one of Barack Obama’s favorites. She also said that the protagonist makes a decision in the end that no American woman would understand. Exquisite and crushing, a richly drawn novel of a woman living during the plague of 1665.
A novel about homelessness, told from the point of view of a schizophrenic man nearing the end of his life, and his dog. One of the most emotive, intriguing, heart rending, and unforgettable novels I've read.
I love this series because it has all the elements of a great read for developing readers—short chapters, a table of contents, map, glossary, illustrations and a curious budding detective on a mission to solve strange happenings in her neighborhood. With the help of her older sister, Hilde gets to the bottom of what really happened when a UFO is spotted or how a fire started. The characters in this series treat each other with empathy and kindness, and it’s fun to see how Hilde Crack the Case!
This is not the town to be stuck in, if you’re a teenage orphan living with your meth-addicted uncle. In the midst of confederate-flag-waving poor white folks, our protagonist Riggle is looking for a job, so he can find eventually afford to leave. Though not a true story, this short novel reads like a personal journal of a marginalized young person without resources or an advocate.
This has everything I look for in a story--friendship, outsiders, amazing women, weirdness, mythology, hope, unknowable mysteries and love.
You have to want a gritty read, but it's also sand-soft at its heart. I spent most of my time spellbound by Riggle’s memories of his late mother, and the characters he encounters on his search to find his uncle, a job, and a way out.
Chilling horror novel reminiscent of Lord of the Flies. When a group of young classmates sets out to determine the true meaning of life, they find out how far they will go to protect it.
Professional swimmer, Lynne Cox, is in the Pacific Ocean very early one morning and finds a lost baby whale. This extraordinary true story is about their journey to find the whale's mother. A gorgeous and harrowing look at the world beneath us, told from a passerby.
A major voice in fiction debuts with the story of a teenage runaway on the streets of 1980s New York.
Coming-of-age novel meets murder mystery. The story is complete with footnotes, literary allusions and a few drawings which made the characters that much more fascinating and believable.
Dark psychological surreal/historical fiction, with epic journeys through various time periods. Also a great love story.