Sunday, September 17, 2017

Passing

Passing is by Nella Larsen. This historical fiction novella is the story of two acquaintances who chance to meet at a hotel in Chicago. Clare is so light skinned she is able to "pass" as white, and has married a racist white man who has no idea is wife is mixed race. Irene is also fair skinned enough to "pass" as white, but she has acknowledged her heritage and has married an African-American doctor and lives in Harlem. Both are wealthy, although, Clare's husband is very rich. Clare wants to spend time with her "people," but she can't risk her husband discovering her secret heritage. Irene finds herself swept into Clare's life, not entirely willingly, and both women must confront the truth of being African-American in the 1920s and the lies we tell ourselves to cope with life. A wonderful book and one that everyone should read.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content) - P (racial language of the time).

The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man

The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man is by James Weldon Johnson. The classic historical fiction story of a light skinned African-American who is able to "pass" as white. His mother is African-American, his father a well-to-do white man who will not acknowledge his mixed race child. The unnamed narrator describes his childhood in Connecticut, his brutal realization that he is "not white;" his decision to go South to college; and his later experiences in New York City. The story is moving and a powerful look at the African-American experience in America. This is definitely a book everyone should read.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content) - P (racial language is of the period).

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is by Frederick Douglass. The short, but poignant, autobiography of Douglass and his struggle from slave, to free man, to writer, to abolitionist leader. A must read for everyone, and a book you must read before you die.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (Some mature thematic content).

Saturday, August 19, 2017

To Murder a Saint

To Murder a Saint is by Nicole Loughan. The first book in the Saints Mystery series. Fanchon and Josephine are best friends from the Louisiana bayou. They moved to New York City because Fanchon wants to play in a symphony orchestra and Josephine wants to be a writer. They have only been in New York several months when Fanchon comes home and discovers Josephine has literally been butchered in their apartment. The rest of this very short story is the search for Josephine's killer. I was surprised the book was so short, but I did enjoy the story.

Ratings: 10th grade - 7 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence).

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fables

Fables is by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, and Craig Hamilton. A charming series of graphic novels based on the award winning comic book series. Fairy tale legends have been driven out of their homelands by an evil villain called, "the Adversary." They have settled in modern New York state, the more human-looking legends live in New York City, the less human-looking legends live on a farm in the country - both collectively called "Fabletown." The series follows their various adventures. The artwork is beautiful and the stories are fun, witty, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10- P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age is by Sherry Turkle. READ THIS BOOK - I mean it, seriously, EVERYONE read this book. This book takes on our technology addiction and its consequences for society in a very readable and understandable way. Turkle does not want us to get rid of technology, but to use it in a way that doesn't destroy our ability to talk to and listen to one another. She provides quotes from students, business people, and others who really make you stop and think. This is a phenomenal read and one I plan to push on everyone I can. It is written in a way that even high school readers will be able to understand it and process the information. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

Ratings: 10th grade - 10 out of 10.

Monday, July 24, 2017

When the Killing's Done

When the Killing's Done is by T.C. Boyle. Alma Boyd Takesue is a biologist for the National Park Service. She is leading the charge to remove invasive species from California's Channel Islands so that native species will have a chance at survival, and removal equals kill. Dave LaJoy is the head of a group who is trying to stop the government from killing the rats and feral pigs that are destroying the native species of fox and birds. This is a story of the battle between these two individuals to advance environmental causes in the way they each think is best. The story also flips back and forth in time to provide the backstory of Alma and other characters in the story. Although at times the writing is beautiful and the descriptions are exquisite, this novel just didn't do it for me. The story seemed fragmented and boring in places. As Auden would say, I can see it's good, but it's not for me. This should not discourage others from giving it a try.

Ratings: Adult - 2 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).