Book picks similar to
About Us by Chester Aaron


coming-of-age
fiction
historical-fiction
jewish

The Bookie's Son


Andrew Goldstein - 2012
    All twelve-year-old Ricky Davis wants to do is play stickball with his friends and flirt with the building super's daughter. But when his father crosses gangster Nathan Glucksman and goes into hiding, Ricky has to take over his father's bookie business and figure out a way to pay back his debt-before the gangsters make good on their threats. Meanwhile, Ricky's mother, Pearl, a fading beauty of failed dreams, plots to raise the money by embezzling funds from one of her boss's clients: Elizabeth Taylor. Fast-paced, engrossing and full of heart, The Bookie's Son paints the picture of a family forced to decide just how much they're willing to sacrifice for each other-and at what cost.

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth


Matson Taylor - 2020
    Like discovering Adrian Mole or Bridget Jones for the first time.’ Joanna Nadin, author of The Queen of Bloody Everything ‘A sweet, fizzy sherbet dib-dab of a book - deliciously nostalgic, hugely funny and ultimately heartwarming. The perfect book for our times.’ Veronica Henry 'Full of fabulous characters, sprinkled with joy and drenched in wit.’ Milly JohnsonJuly, 1962   Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?   The fastest milk bottle-delivery girl in East Yorkshire, Evie is tall as a tree and hot as the desert sand. She dreams of an independent life lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). The two posters of Adam Faith on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’) offer wise counsel about a future beyond rural East Yorkshire. Her role models are Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen. But, before she can decide on a career, she must first deal with the malign presence of her future step-mother, the manipulative and money-grubbing Christine.   If Evie can rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save the farmhouse from being sold off then maybe she can move on with her own life and finally work out exactly who it is she is meant to be.     Moving, inventive and richly comic, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is the most joyful debut novel of the year and the best thing to have come out of Yorkshire since Wensleydale cheese.    ‘Such a joyful and uplifting read. Just the sort of thing that people will want to be reading right now.’ Radio 2 Book Club 'Funny and original with a cast of eccentric characters, this debut novel is a tour de force. Not to be missed.' Sunday Express 'A rich triumph of comic writing.' Waterstones.com 'One of the funniest, wittiest and most joyful books you will read this year.' Lancaster Guardian

Anita Diamant's The Red Tent: A Reader's Guide


Ann Finding - 2004
    A team of contemporary fiction scholars from both sides of the Atlantic has been assembled to provide a through and readable analysis of each of the novels in question. The books in the series all follow the same structure: a biography of the novelist, including other works, influences, and, in some cases, an interview; a full-length study of the novel, drawing out the most important themes and ideas; a summary of how the novel was received upon publication; a summary of how the novel has performed since publication, including film or television adaptations, literary prizes, and so forth; a wide range of suggestions for further reading, including web sites and discussion forums; and a list of questions for reading groups to discuss.

The Secret Mother


Victoria Delderfield - 2015
    The Secret Mother puts a face on the label Made in China - the bittersweet story of a girl - like millions of others - willing to risk everything.

Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow


Dedra Johnson - 2007
    I knew I was also in the presence of the brillian voice and sensibility of a major new American writer. This is an important novel by a true artist."--Robert Olen Butler"Dedra Johnson has caught something wonderful in Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow. She writes brilliantly about childhood, New Orleans, the intricacies of a vexed family life. Sandrine is a remarkable debut novel that will catch your heart."--Frederick BarthelmeDespite being a straight-A student and voracious reader, eight-year old Sandrine Miller is treated as little more than a servant by her mother, who forces Sandrine to clean house, do chores and take care of her younger half sister, Yolanda. On top of the despair of her life at home, Sandrine must confront growing up against the harshness of life in 1970s-era New Orleans, where men in cars follow her home from school and she is ostracized because she is a light-skinned black girl. The only refuge Sandrine has against her bleak world is spending summers with her beloved grandmother, Mamalita. After Mamalita’s death, Sandrine realizes that she must escape from her mother, from New Orleans, from everything she has known, if she is to have any kind of future. In the tradition of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow is a brilliant debut from an important new African-American voice in literary fiction.A native and current resident of New Orleans, Dedra Johnson received her MFA from the University of Florida, where she was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow was a runner-up for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award in 2006.

Billy's War


Tony Whelpton - 2014
    Billy Frecknall was nine years old, and the country was at war. What could that mean to a nine-year-old? A great deal, not least being the fact that Billy to all intents and purposes no longer had a Dad, because his father had enlisted in the army in the early days of the war, and they didn’t even know where he was. That night saw the biggest air raid Billy’s home town of Nottingham had experienced, and there were many casualties, including Billy’s Mum. Billy survived, but finding his Dad became even more urgent than before. His quest leads him into many adventures and a great deal of danger, but his courage never falters. Billy is a cheerful, intelligent, resourceful boy who has the gift of winning the hearts of most people he encounters – he will probably win yours too!

The Dream Stitcher


Deborah Gaal - 2018
     Hard times are forcing Maude Fields to take in her estranged mother, Bea, whose secrets date to World War II. Bea arrives with a hand-embroidered recreation of La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, the iconic 11th century Bayeux Tapestry. The replica contains clues to the identity of Maude’s father and the mythical Dream Stitcher, Goldye, a Jewish freedom fighter who helped launch the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. With the help of her pregnant daughter Rosie, Maude is determined to unravel decades of family deception to learn the truth about her parentage. With Poland on the brink of invasion by Nazi Germany, Goldye discovers—with the guidance of imaginary friend Queen Mathilda—that she can embroider dreams that come true. She becomes an apprentice at Kaminski Fine Fabrics, where she gains a reputation for creating wedding dresses for Aryan brides that bring their dreams to reality. She becomes known as the Dream Stitcher. Goldye meets and falls in love with Lev, a freedom fighter who wants to unite Jews and Poles to fight the Germans. Goldye sews images to help him. And she creates a powerful symbol for the resistance of the common people: a stitched hummingbird that spreads hope. Goldye leaves the ghetto to live with her sewing mentor, Jan Kaminski, who gains identity papers for Goldye as his Aryan niece. A Nazi commandant takes Jan and Goldye on a dangerous trip to France to decipher the symbols in The Bayeux Tapestry. The Nazis hope images in the Bayeux will reinforce Germany’s right to world domination. In California, Maude’s quest for the truth leads to family she didn’t know she had, and perhaps, love.

Leah's Children


Gloria Goldreich - 1985
    From the courageous struggle of the Hungarian revolution, to the dramatic strife of the civil rights movement in Mississippi…from Israel’s heroic fight for freedom, to the eve of the Six-Day War…Leah’s children confronted their own convictions and desires in an ever-changing world fraught with danger, idealism, and betrayal. Their uncompromising search for love and fulfillment carried them into dangerous emotional territory—where only the strength, courage, and imagination inherited from their mother could lead them to their own triumphant destinies.

Song of Slaves in the Desert


Alan Cheuse - 2011
    Plantations are as foreign to him as the African plain that birthed the slaves his uncle owns. Surely, though, he knows his own heart. She has no say in his decisions, his day, his life. She doesn't even have a say in her own. But when Nathaniel Pereira plunges into the murky mysteries of freedom and survival in the suffocating Southern heat, Liza can see how she might change her life forever.Tracing the thread of slavery from sixteenth-century Timbuktu, "Song of Slaves in the Desert "explores one man's struggle to understand a world where honor is in short supply yet dignity cannot be sold. His mission in peril, his mind nearly undone, Nathaniel's obsession binds him to his fate more tightly than chains ever could."Cheuse shows that in one way or another, we all experience slavery, and that freedom is never given but must be taken at all cost. The book's epic vision is deeply human and humane." Helon Habila, author of "Waiting for an Angel "and "Measuring Time""""Alan Cheuse, one of our most respected men of letters, has written a daring, provocative novel. Some readers will be captivated by his depiction of the horrors of slavery and Jewish involvement in the peculiar institution, and others will be troubled and perhaps even offended, for the subject of race in America is always controversial, but no one who reads "Song of Slaves in the Desert "will emerge from its pages unaffected." Charles Johnson, author of the National Book Award winner "Middle Passage""""A novelist's dream is to conjure up a whole world, one the reader can tumble right into and inhabit. I fell into Alan Cheuse's "Song of Slaves in the Desert "like that. I confess I felt a twinge of envy at Cheuse's success, his fully imagined song and its people. But the envy immediately gave way to gratitude for having had the chance to enter and treasure the world he's made here." Josephine Humphreys, author of "Dreams of Sleep""""Cheuse passionately evokes a vanished world of master and slave, Jew and Gentile, all hurtling toward the tumult and destruction of war. The novel is full of the loss and longing that come with a world divided forever, people from their people and from their past. Fascinating." Lynn Freed, author of "The Servants"' "Quarters"A masterful writer skilled in both accuracy and nuance, Alan Cheuse grapples with the nether parts of our history, the murky boundary between right and wrong, and the wild tendency of love to break free.For more than two decades, Alan Cheuse has served as NPR's "voice of books." He is the author of four novels, including "The Grandmothers' Club, The Light Possessed," and "To Catch the Lightning "(winner of the 2009 Grub Street National Prize for fiction), several collections of short stories, and a pair of novellas. He is also the editor of "Seeing Ourselves: Great Early American Short Stories "and coeditor of "Writers Workshop in a Book.""

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street Free Preview (The First 3 Chapters)


Susan Jane Gilman - 2014
    Bedazzled by tales of gold and movie stardom, she tricks them into buying tickets for America. Yet no sooner do they land on the squalid Lower East Side of Manhattan, than Malka is crippled and abandoned in the street.Taken in by a tough-loving Italian ices peddler, she manages to survive through cunning and inventiveness. As she learns the secrets of his trade, she begins to shape her own destiny. She falls in love with a gorgeous, illiterate radical named Albert, and they set off across America in an ice cream truck. Slowly, she transforms herself into Lillian Dunkle, "The Ice Cream Queen" -- doyenne of an empire of ice cream franchises and a celebrated television personality. Lillian's rise to fame and fortune spans seventy years and is inextricably linked to the course of American history itself, from Prohibition to the disco days of Studio 54. Yet Lillian Dunkle is nothing like the whimsical motherly persona she crafts for herself in the media. Conniving, profane, and irreverent, she is a supremely complex woman who prefers a good stiff drink to an ice cream cone. And when her past begins to catch up with her, everything she has spent her life building is at stake.

Seasons of Love


Anna Jacobs - 2001
    However, when she is seduced by a travelling actor, a handsome rogue she meets at the market, they are forced to marry, and Helen’s family disowns her. After several unhappy years, Helen and her husband escape to Europe, but their fortunes take a turn for the worse, and soon Helen is alone and responsible for both herself and their son. Two years later, in the picturesque Italian town of Serugia, Helen meets Charles Carnforth. An older man, he falls deeply in love with her… but he’s not the only one trying to win Helen’s heart. Can a new romance find its way into her life, with all the complications and turmoil that brings? Seasons of Love is both a remarkable story of a woman fighting for her independence and a deeply moving saga that will tug at the heartstrings. Penned by one of Britain’s best-loved novelists, Anna Jacobs, it is ideal also for fans of Gill Paul or Kitty Neale.

A Hint of Strangeness (Kindle Single)


Susan Isaacs - 2015
    Her life may not seem thrilling – living with her widowed mother, majoring in economics, working in an elegant dress store after classes to put away money for graduate school – but she’s determined to make a better life for herself and her mom. One night, she comes home to see the light is out again over the door. That old fuse box? Again? Except when Marianne gets inside, she stumbles over something, and it’s immediately clear what has happened: her mother has been murdered. The NYPD is stumped. Marianne’s father, an army captain, was killed in battle when she was a year old, and whatever other family she has are so distant she’s never met them. Whom can she turn to? Marianne does what strong women always do: She turns to herself. With help from Laurie Fishbein, her BFF since second grade, she becomes her own private detective to solve the case of her lifetime.Susan Isaacs was dubbed “Jane Austen with a shmear” on NPR’s Fresh Air. Among her thirteen novels are Almost Paradise, Shining Through and After All These Years. She has written screenplays for two films, Compromising Positions (adapted from her novel) and Hello Again, as well as a nonfiction work, Brave Dames and Wimpettes: What Women are Really Doing on Page and Screen. Currently, she serves as chairman of the literary organization Poets & Writers. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, she has reviewed for New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and Newsday. She is a past president of Mystery Writers of America and belongs to the Creative Coalition, PEN, and the International Association of Crime Writers. Susan is a trustee emerita of the Queens College Foundation and on the board of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Among her honors are the John Steinbeck award, the Writers for Writers award, and the Marymount Manhattan Writing Center prize. She has worked gathering support for the National Endowment of the Arts Literature Program and on many anti-censorship campaigns. She lives on Long Island where she’s at work finishing her new novel, Violet Hopkins. Cover design by Kristen Radtke.

Summerlings


Lisa Howorth - 2019
    For the families who live on Connors Lane in Washington DC, life is still defined by what one did during WWII. Behind each door lives a possible spy or Nazi sympathizer, the family of a foreign diplomat, or someone who escaped the conflagration in Europe just in time.But it is also the summer of an inexplicable spider infestation--surely evidence of "insect warfare" by the Russians, thinks our young narrator John, and his best friends, Ivan and Max. When a rare, scorpion-like vinegaroon is discovered and sequestered for museum study, the boys, along with their tomboy accomplice, Beatriz, hatch a risky midnight plan to steal the poisonous creature for their own devious purposes.At the same time, under the tutelage of Ivan's glamorous aunt Elena, they plan to forge a spirit of bonhomie in the neighborhood by throwing a party in John's grandparents' backyard. Fueled by punch the boys doctor with a jug of Brazilian rum, the adults let down their defenses until Elena, already a lightning rod for her Ukrainian birth, swinging social life, and outspokenness on behalf of refugees, roars off with a stranger on his motorcycle. What happens next will change John's life forever.

The Last Road Home


Danny Johnson - 2016
    At eight years old, Raeford "Junebug" Hurley has known more than his share of hard lessons. After the sudden death of his parents, he goes to live with his grandparents on a farm surrounded by tobacco fields and lonesome woods. There he meets Fancy Stroud and her twin brother, Lightning, the children of black sharecroppers on a neighboring farm. As years pass, the friendship between Junebug and bright, compassionate Fancy takes on a deeper intensity. Junebug, aware of all the ways in which he and Fancy are more alike than different, habitually bucks against the casual bigotry that surrounds them--dangerous in a community ruled by the Klan. On the brink of adulthood, Junebug is drawn into a moneymaking scheme that goes awry--and leaves him with a dark secret he must keep from those he loves. And as Fancy, tired of saying yes'um and living scared, tries to find her place in the world, Junebug embarks on a journey that will take him through loss and war toward a hard-won understanding. At once tender and unflinching, The Last Road Home delves deep into the gritty, violent realities of the South's turbulent past, yet evokes the universal hunger for belonging.

Little Tea


Claire Fullerton - 2020
    When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.