I've often wondered it myself . . . What would happen to our planet if women were in charge? Would hunger end? Wars cease? Would harmony prevail? In h...moreI've often wondered it myself . . . What would happen to our planet if women were in charge? Would hunger end? Wars cease? Would harmony prevail? In his book, EPITAPH ROAD, Northwest author David Patneaude seeks to answer these questions. The year is 2097. Ninety-seven percent of the human male population were wiped out thirty years previously due to an airborne virus. Women are now in charge . . . Patneaude deftly weaves a gritty tale, unpredictable and mesmerizing. The future setting is well-drawn, realistic, the scenario plausible, the writing solid. The story raises interesting ethical questions suitable for classroom discussion: Do the ends justify the means? What is peace? True peace? and "What price would you pay for a perfect world?"(Ages 12+)
In the classic, LITTLE WOMEN, we, as readers, become intimately acquainted the four "little women," and their mother, Mrs. March. However, we know lit...moreIn the classic, LITTLE WOMEN, we, as readers, become intimately acquainted the four "little women," and their mother, Mrs. March. However, we know little about their father who is away from home, serving the Union army as a chaplain during the Civil War.
In her Pulitzer prize-winning book, MARCH, author Geraldine Brooks writes from the perspective of Mr. March. She bases his absent character upon what is known of Louisa May Alcott's actual father. (LITTLE WOMEN is based upon Ms. Alcott's family life, Louisa May being the impetuous, aspiring writer, "Jo".) While MARCH is slow to start and seems to initially flounder about without a sense of direction, it soon sharpens into a compelling, focused narrative. Mr. March's abolitionist idealism is juxtaposed against the realities of slavery and the depredations of war, an idealism which eventually costs Mr. March his innocence. Ultimately, it is a story of love and war, betrayal and heartbreak. The imaginative, heart-felt story, the poetic language and rich tapestry of setting, make MARCH a classic in its own right.
Even as one who has spent considerable time in Africa, "in the trenches," so to speak, one who has many African friends, I cannot say that I truly und...moreEven as one who has spent considerable time in Africa, "in the trenches," so to speak, one who has many African friends, I cannot say that I truly understand Africans. Their different ways of thinking, their cultures, their perceptions, often leave me, a white Western woman, bewildered and exasperated. Should I spend the remainder of my life among them, I believe I would always be aware of the vast gulf of understanding that stands between us and my own ingrained and presumptive Western ideologies. That's why it's invaluable to run across a book that helps me to understand, as much as I am able, the African social and familial ideologies that so fundamentally differ from my own.
SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM by Uwem Akpan is a collection of five short stories, each written through the point-of-view of an African child. From the genocide in Rwanda to the epidemic of violence in Nigeria, the children narrate the events of their lives -- the prejudices and fears, the joys and the horrors, through writing that is both vivid and stark. Born and raised in Nigeria, Akpan has truly captured the voice and heart of Africa's children. Through their chatter, their confusion, their longings, and their grief, the children communicate universal needs: to be loved, to be secure, and to be happy.
When we allow ourselves to be as children, willing to give love and be loved unconditionally, then we embrace these universal needs as fundamental human rights. And when we do that, all ideologies that before stood like fortressed walls between us, crumble into dust.
At first I wasn't so sure about this book . . . Eighty-odd pages into it, the protagonist/1st-person-narrator, Caelum Quirk, was a real jerk -- one of...moreAt first I wasn't so sure about this book . . . Eighty-odd pages into it, the protagonist/1st-person-narrator, Caelum Quirk, was a real jerk -- one of those kind of people whom I avoid in real life. But the novel (all 723 pages of it) promised something of more significance than a journey into jerkdom. So I gave the bestselling author, Wally Lamb, fifty more pages to convince me that, indeed, the rest of the book would be worth my while. No sooner had I issued the challenge, Lamb delivered in a powerful tour de force. Via the tragedy at Columbine High School, a failing marriage, and his wounded childhood, protagonist Caelum Quirk navigates the pathetic, purposeless maze of his life, slaying his monsters and demons to finally emerge with true purpose and meaning. The characters come across as real, flesh-and-blood people, the everyday Joes among us -- all of whom harbor secrets, grievances, and ancient monsters too frightening to confront. My only complaints were two-fold: 1) the author placed Caelum in the midst of, not just one media sensation, but multiple ones (all random), making Caelum seem rather like the Forrest Gump of high profile tragedies. 2) The forays into Quirk family history tended toward tedium and could have been considerably reduced, serving to increase rather than diminish the novel's message. Those minor issues aside, THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED is a novel of healing, self-discovery, courage, and compassion. Readers will not be sorry they turned that next page.(less)
Indian-born Maya Mukherjee attends middle school in a small town in Manitoba. Besides struggling with the usual issues of adolescence (including pimpl...moreIndian-born Maya Mukherjee attends middle school in a small town in Manitoba. Besides struggling with the usual issues of adolescence (including pimples and braces), Maya straddles the line between the two cultures, with neither foot firmly planted in either one. Maya yearns to belong. Maya wants to be beautiful and hip, and have the coolest boy in the school go gaga after her. One day, when Maya prays to Ganesh, the all-knowing Granter of Wishes, her wishes come true! But Maya soon learns the hard way (and funny way) that sometimes what she wishes for isn't always what she wants. MAYA RUNNING is a sweetly written, heart-warming coming-of-age story in which a young girl learns what is truly important, and where it is that she belongs. (Ages 10+)(less)