Book picks similar to
Listen to the Lambs by Daniel Black


fiction
african-american
literature
poverty

Etched on Me


Jenn Crowell - 2014
    Little do her classmates know that she recently ran away from home, where her father had spent years sexually abusing her. Nor does anyone know that she’s secretly cutting herself as a coping mechanism...until the day she goes too far and ends up in the hospital. Lesley spends the next two years in and out of psychiatric facilities, where she overcomes her traumatic memories and finds the support of a surrogate family. Eventually completing university and earning her degree, she is a social services success story—until she becomes unexpectedly pregnant in her early twenties. Despite the overwhelming odds she has overcome, the same team that saved her as an adolescent will now question whether Lesley is fit to be a mother. And so she embarks upon her biggest battle yet: the fight for her unborn daughter.

Before the Wind


Jim Lynch - 2016
    His grandfather designed them, his father built and raced them, his Einstein-obsessed mother knows why and how they work (or not). For Josh and his two siblings, their backyard was the Puget Sound and sailing their DNA. But both his sister and brother fled many years ago: Ruby to Africa and elsewhere to do good works on land, and Bernard to god-knows-where at sea, a fugitive and pirate. Suddenly thirty-one, Josh—who repairs boats of all kinds in a Steinbeckian marina south of Seattle—is pained and confused by whatever the hell went wrong with his volatile family. His parents are barely speaking, his mystified grandfather is drinking harder, and he himself—despite an endless and comic flurry of online dates—hasn’t even come close to finding a girlfriend. But when the Johannssens unexpectedly reunite for the most important race in these waters—all of them together on a classic vessel they made decades ago—they will be carried to destinies both individual and collective, and to a heart-shattering revelation. Past and present merge seamlessly and collide surprisingly as Jim Lynch reveals a family unlike any other, with the grace and humor and magic of a master storyteller.

Where No Gods Came


Sheila O'Connor - 2003
    . . remains a consummate artist, true to her vision of a work that is bleak, truthful, and lacking any overt sentimental overtures. Her eye, a poet's eye, misses nothing."---three candles". . . a touching odyssey of a girl poised between the emotional abyss and the reader's heart."---Minneapolis Star-Tribune"A sensitive, often disquieting book that rings true throughout. . . . It's the skill of an accomplished writer that we see Faina's extraordinary spirit, while simultaneously experiencing her pain and despair. The end result is an uplifting, even inspiring book without any of the sugarcoating often found in stories like this."---California Literary ReviewWhere No Gods Came is author Sheila O'Connor's compelling story of Faina McCoy, a young girl caught in a perilous scheme of elaborate lies created for her own harrowing system of survival. Enmeshed in a tangled family web, Faina is abruptly uprooted against her will from her father and finds herself half a continent away on the doorstep of a mother who abandoned her years before-but who can't live without Faina now. Alone, persecuted, and exploited, Faina must fend for herself as she searches for love and answers, navigating the streets of a strange city and forging bonds of feeling with liars and outlaws.

The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters


Elisabeth Robinson - 2004
    Telling the story of two sisters-Olivia, a hotshot Hollywood producer whose life is unraveling, and Maddie, an unflaggingly optimistic, seriously ill midwesterner whose idealism has always driven Olivia crazy-The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters offers a startlingly poignant reminder of how hope can grow in even the darkest places.

11 Stories


Chris Cander - 2013
    Instead of becoming a musician, he becomes the superintendent of the Chicago apartment building where he has lived since birth. Very soon, his life is no longer his own; he fades into the background, plumbing and fixing and toiling for the tenants populating the eleven stories above him. Although they hardly notice him as anything but a working part of the building, he develops a sometimes uncomfortable intimacy with the details of their complicated lives. Every night, in the privacy of his basement quarters, alone with his secret longings, he plays his trumpet. That is until the evening he climbs to the roof to play in public for the first time in fifty years — and the course of his life is irrevocably changed. For some, losses may turn, unexpectedly, to gain. For Roscoe, the relationships he forms with the tenants — two, in particular — justify the amputation of his finger and the forfeiture of his dreams. This is a story about sacrifice and service, longing and love — and the abiding hopefulness of the human heart that connects us all.

Meeting of the Waters


Kim McLarin - 2001
    Porter Stockman, a smart and talented white reporter, finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time on the day a jury acquits four Los Angeles police officers of assaulting Rodney King.

The Annie Year


Stephanie Wilbur Ash - 2016
    This year is an Annie year—and it would be no different than other years were it not for the high school’s hiring of a new vocational agriculture (Vo-Ag) teacher. With his beguiling ponytail and decorative beaded belt, Kenny catches Tandy’s eye immediately. Ignoring the fact of her slovenly husband—who takes most of his meals in their hot tub—Tandy decides to entertain Kenny’s advances.Trusted community pillar that she is, Tandy’s affair has instant repercussions. People are talking and her husband’s subsequent breakdown and check-in to a mental institution doesn’t help. At her regular meeting with the Order of the Pessimists—comprised of her deceased father’s disgruntled and drunken best friends—she is asked to step down as treasurer. Not only that, but her old lover is keeping a secret somehow connected to the Vo-Ag teacher. And meth labs—fueled by the abundance of fertilizer present in the region—keep blowing up. Somehow, it is all connected to Tandy’s ex-bestfriend’s daughter—the star of this year’s Annie. As Tandy pieces together the puzzle that has become her life, it becomes clear she must embark on a journey of self-discovery that might even include leaving town for good.

Magnificent Joe


James Wheatley - 2013
    What Jim needs is a fresh start.Living in a former pit village in the North of England, Joe’s learning difficulties have left him isolated, his only contact with the community playing the back-end of the horse in the local panto. Until Jim, another of life’s outsiders for a whole different set of reasons, comes home. So begins an unlikely friendship. Jim and Joe offer one another loyalty and camaraderie, simple but magnificent qualities that give Jim that most elusive thing – hope – as he rebuilds his life. But when rumours of an unthinkable crime get out of control, Jim’s loyalty is put to the test, with heartbreaking consequences.Funny, bittersweet and unforgettable, Magnificent Joe is a tale of devastation, loss and the redemptive power of one extraordinary friendship."

As Lie Is to Grin


Simeon Marsalis - 2017
    He is also mourning the loss of his New York girlfriend, Melody, whose grandfather's alma mater he has chosen to attend. When David met Melody, he told her he lived with his drug-addicted single mother in Harlem, a more intriguing story than his own. This lie haunts and almost unhinges him as he attempts to find his true voice and identity. On campus in Vermont, David imagines encounters with a student from the past who might represent either Melody's grandfather or Jean Toomer, the author of the acclaimed Harlem Renaissance novel, Cane (1923). He becomes obsessed with the varieties of American architecture -upon land that was stolen, - and with the university's past and attitudes as recorded in its newspaper, The Cynic. And he is frustrated with the way the Internet and libraries are curated, making it difficult to find the information he needs to make connections between the university's history, African-American history, and his own life. In New York, the previous year, Melody confides a shocking secret about her grandfather's student days at the University of Vermont. When she and her father collude with the intent to meet David's mother in Harlem--craving what they consider an authentic experience of the black world--their plan ends explosively. The title of this impressive and emotionally powerful novel is inspired by Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem -We Wear the Mask- (1896): -We wear the mask that grins and lies. . . .-

The Transformation of Things


Jillian Cantor - 2010
    Enthralling and original women’s fiction from an exciting new voice, The Transformation of Things tells the story of a woman who, in glimpsing the intimate lives of her loved ones, is able to illuminate the half-truths in her own.

In Case of Emergency


Courtney Moreno - 2014
    How will Piper continue to function despite the horror she sees working in South Central, and despite her own fractured past? And how will the woman Piper loves continue to function as she experiences the aftershocks of her time spent serving in Iraq? Piper’s experiences as a rookie break her down and open her up as her genuine urge to help patients confronts the daily realities of life in the back of an ambulance and a hospital's hallways. This vivid and visceral debut is a rich study in trauma—in its causes and effects, in its methods and disguises, in its power and its pull.

Damascus


Joshua Mohr - 2011
    Damascus, a dive bar in San Francisco's Mission District, becomes the unlikely setting for a showdown between the opposing sides.Tensions come to a boil when Owen, the bar's proprietor who has recently taken to wearing a Santa suit full-time, agrees to host the joint's first (and only) art show by Sylvia Suture, an ambitious young artist who longs to take her act to the dramatic precipice of the high-wire by nailing live fish to the walls as a political statement.An incredibly creative and fully rendered cast of characters orbit the bar. There's No Eyebrows, a cancer patient who has come to the Mission to die anonymously; Shambles, the patron saint of the hand job; Revv, a lead singer who acts too much like a lead singer; and Owen, donning his Santa costume to mask the most unfortunate birthmark imaginable.Damascus is the place where confusion and frustration run out of room to hide. By gracefully tackling such complicated topics as cancer, Iraq, and issues of self-esteem, Joshua Mohr has painted his most accomplished novel yet.Joshua Mohr is the San Francisco Chronicle best-selling author of Some Things That Meant the World to Me and Termite Parade, a New York Times Book Review editors' choice selection.

Household Words


Joan Silber - 1980
    Satisfied with her comfortable house in a New Jersey suburb and her reliable husband, Leonard, she expects that her life will be predictable and secure. Surprised by an untimely death, an unexpected illness, and the contrary natures of her two daughters, Rhoda finds that fate undermines her sense of entitlement and security. Shrewd, wry, and sometimes bitter, Rhoda reveals herself to be a wonderfully flawed and achingly real woman caught up in the unexpectedness of her own life.

The Wide Circumference of Love


Marita Golden - 2017
    She never expected to slowly lose her talented husband to the debilitating effects of early-onset dementia. As a respected family court judge, she’s spent her life making tough calls, but when her sixty-eight-year-old husband’s health worsens and Diane is forced to move him into an assisted living facility, it seems her world is spinning out of control.As Gregory’s memory wavers and fades, Diane and her children must reexamine their connection to the man he once was—and learn to love the man he has become. For Diane’s daughter Lauren, it means honoring her father by following in his footsteps as a successful architect. But for her son Sean, it means finding a way to finally forge a bond with his father before it’s too late. Supporting her children as they find new footing in a changing landscape, Diane remains resolute in her goal to keep her family together—until her husband finds love with another resident of the facility. Suddenly faced with an uncertain future, Diane must choose a new path and discover her own capacity for love. Will she choose renewal, or regret?

I Knew You'd Be Lovely


Alethea Black - 2011
    Brimming with humor, irony, and insights about the unpredictable nature of life, the unbearable beauty of fate, and the power that one moment, or one decision, can have to transform us, I Knew You'd Be Lovely delivers that rare thing—stories with both an edge and a heart.