Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter

J. Nozipo Maraire - 1995
    Nozipo Maraire evokes the moving story of a mother reaching out to her daughter to share the lessons life has taught her and bring the two closer than ever before. Interweaving history and memories, disappointments and dreams, Zenzele tells the tales of Zimbabwe's struggle for independence and the men and women who shaped it: Zenzele's father, an outspoken activist lawyer; her aunt, a schoolteacher by day and secret guerrilla fighter by night; and her cousin, a maid and a spy.Rich with insight, history, and philosophy, Zenzele is a powerful and compelling story that is both revolutionary and revelatory--the story of one life that poignantly speaks of all lives.

Gonzo Girl

Cheryl Della Pietra - 2015
    Thompson's assistant will linger in your mind. Alley Russo is a recent college grad desperately trying to make it in the grueling world of New York publishing, but like so many who have come before her, she has no connections and has settled for an unpaid magazine internship while slinging drinks on Bleecker Street just to make ends meet. That's when she hears the infamous Walker Reade is looking for an assistant to replace the eight others who have recently quit. Hungry for a chance to get her manuscript onto the desk of an experienced editor, Alley jumps at the opportunity to help Reade finish his latest novel.After surviving an absurd three-day trial period involving a .44 magnum, purple-pyramid acid, violent verbal outbursts, brushes with fame and the law, a bevy of peacocks, and a whole lot of cocaine, Alley is invited to stay at the compound where Reade works. For months Alley attempts to coax the novel out of Walker page-by-page, all while battling his endless procrastination, vampiric schedule, Herculean substance abuse, mounting debt, and casual gunplay. But as the job begins to take a toll on her psyche, Alley realizes she's alone in the Colorado Rockies at the mercy of a drug-addicted literary icon who may never produce another novel and her fate may already be sealed.A smart, rollicking ride told with heart, Gonzo Girl is a loving fictional portrait of a larger-than-life literary icon.This debut novel is raucous, page-turning, head-spinning, and side-splitting as it depicts a boss and mentor who is both devil and angel, and a young heroine who finds herself tested in the chaos that surrounds him. An intense story, Della Pietra's tale about writing, firearms, psychotropics, and the pros and cons of hot tubs will suck you in and take you on ride. "Gonzo Girl is a ticket you want to buy."-Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black

The Solitary Summer

Elizabeth von Arnim - 1899
    Descriptions of magnificent larkspurs and burning nasturtiums give way to those of cooling forest walks, and of clambering up the mud bank when the miller is not in view. Rainy days prompt a little philanthropy, until the sun returns the gardener to the refuge of her beloved plants. Yet the months are not as solitary as she'd planned—there's the Man of Wrath to pacify and the April, May, and June babies to amuse. Here, with the pleasing astringency for which she is noted, Elizabeth von Arnim returns to the heroine and the garden she immortalized.

The Farther Shore

Matthew Eck - 2007
    "What brought you here?" is the question asked of Eck's young narrator, Joshua Stantz, from the army's 10th Mountain Division. "Accidents and intentions," is his response, the answer of a man disillusioned long before his time. Having escaped the chaos and brutality of a hostile desert city ruled by rogue warlords, a handful of soldiers from Stantz's division realize that their only hope is to keep moving. Their odyssey is a surreal nightmare of swirling sand and flying shrapnel as they stay steps ahead of marauding gangs, warring clansmen, and pitiless mercenaries. Bewildered, plagued by the memory of home and family, not all of them will survive. Those who do will wonder why, as they try to make sense of the inexplicable. But their struggle is futile -- the rules of engagement they dutifully carry in their packs provide little information about the circumstances they face or the reason they're conscripted to this hellish place. Haunting, evocative, stripped of sentiment and convention, The Farther Shore is a war novel second and a powerful work of literature first. (Holiday 2007 Selection)

A Candle for St. Jude

Rumer Godden - 1948
    Jude is the tender, evocative tale of a London ballet school, the heroic taskmistress who is its guiding force, and the young dancers whose passionate devotion to the dance fill the school with buoyant hopes, clashing temperaments, and the vibrant energy of youth.As the Madame and her students prepare for a forthcoming recital to commemorate her fifty years of dedication to the ballet, the reader shares in their special world...the unique relationship between Madame and the brilliant youngsters she trains, the backstage tensions and onstage triumphs, the tender loves and the burning frustrations of youth.


Wendell Berry - 1988
    Andy Catlett, at the bottom of a deep dark depression since losing his hand in a farming accident, is alone in San Francisco, and takes a long walk through the walking street ofthe city. By the end of the day, when he has flown home to Port William, Kentucky, Andy is on his way to becoming whole again.

Where Did You Go? Out What Did You Do? Nothing

Robert Paul Smith - 1957
    . . a masterly mixture of up-country drawl and Huckleberry Finn."—The New YorkerA hugely popular bestseller when it first appeared in 1957, Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing. is Robert Paul Smith's nostalgic and often wry look back on his 1920s childhood. Smith agitates against what he perceives as the over-scheduled and over-supervised lives of suburban children as he celebrates privacy, boredom, and time to oneself away from adults. Arcane games and pastimes including mumbly-peg, horse-chestnut collecting, and Indian scalp burns pervade the book, alongside tales of young love—"I loved the smell of kerosene. Rose smelled of kerosene. I loved Rose."—and hard-won observations by Smith the elder. Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing. still conveys the essence of adventure that forms the basis of a fondly recalled childhood. 7 black-and-white illustrations (less)

The Cheese Monkeys

Chip Kidd - 2001
    The Cheese Monkeys is a college novel that takes place over a tightly written two semesters. The book is set in the late 1950s at State U, where the young narrator, has decided to major in art, much to his parents’ dismay. It is an autobiographical, coming-of-age novel which tells universally appealing stories of maturity, finding a calling in life, and being inspired by a loving, demanding, and highly eccentric teacher.

For One Moment: A Biographical Story

Christmas Carol Kauffman - 1964

What the Waves Know

Tamara Valentine - 2016
    Tucked deep in her pocket, Iz carries a small amber seastone and the secret of the evening her father disappeared– taking her words with him.Eight years later in the autumn of 1974, Iz’s mother is through with social workers, psychiatrists, and her daughter's silence. In one last attempt to return Iz's voice, the pair board the ferry back to Tillings in hopes that confronting the past will help Izabella heal herself and begin to piece together the splintered memories of the day her words ran dry. But heartbreak is a difficult puzzle to solve– and truth is elusive where magic and madness collide. When the residents of Tillings greet them with a standoffish welcome it becomes clear that they know something about Izabella's dreamer of a father that she does not. Now, as the island's annual Yemayá festival prepares to celebrate the ties that bind mothers to children, lovers to each other, and humankind to the sea, Izabella must unravel the tangled threads of her own story and reclaim a voice gone silent… or risk losing herself—and any chance she may have for a future—to the past.

A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries

Kaylie Jones - 1990
    . . discerning, brightly written . . . Highly recommended."—Library JournalWith a brand new author's introduction and a previously unpublished chapter. The inspiration for the Merchant Ivory film starring Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Hershey, a rich and poignant family story from the daughter of novelist James Jones (From Here to Eternity). Based on the author's early years in Paris with her famous father.

Christmas at Eagle Pond

Donald Hall - 2012
    Once there, he quickly settles into the farm’s routines. In the barn, Gramp milks the cows and entertains his grandson by speaking rhymed pieces, while Donnie’s eyes are drawn to an empty stall that houses a graceful, cobwebby sleigh. Now Model A's speed over the wintry roads, which must be plowed, and the beautiful sleigh has become obsolete. When the church pageant is over, the gifts are exchanged, and the remains of the Christmas feast put away, the air becomes heavy with fine snowflakes—the kind that fall at the start of a big storm—and everyone wonders, how will Donnie get back to his parents on time?

Hurt People

Cote Smith - 2016
    But for two young brothers in Leavenworth, the only thing that matters is the pool in their apartment complex. Their mother forbids the boys to swim alone, but she’s always at work trying to make ends meet after splitting with their police-officer father. With no one home to supervise, the boys decide to break the rules.While blissfully practicing their cannonballs and dives, they meet Chris, a mysterious stranger who promises an escape from their broken-home blues. As the older brother and Chris grow closer, the wary younger brother desperately tries to keep his best friend from slipping away.Beautifully atmospheric and psychologically suspenseful, Cote Smith’s Hurt People will hold you in its grip to the very last page, reminding us that when we’re not paying attention, we often hurt the ones we claim to love the most.

Albert Einstein Speaking

R.J. Gadney - 2018
    New Jersey. 14th March 1954'Albert Einstein speaking.''Who?' asks the girl on the telephone.'I'm sorry,' she says. 'I have the wrong number.''You have the right number,' Albert says.From a wrong number to a friendship that would impact both their lives,Albert Einstein Speaking begins with two unlikely friends - the world's most respected scientist and a schoolgirl from New Jersey. From their first conversation Mimi Beaufort had a profound effect on Einstein and brought him, in his final years, back to life. In turn he let her into his world.Albert Einstein Speaking is the story of an incredible friendship, and of a remarkable life. The son of an electrician in nineteenth-century Germany, Albert Einstein went on to become one of the twentieth century's most influential scientists and the most famous face in the world. This riotous, charming and moving novel spans almost a century of European history and shines a light on the real man behind the myth.

The Cry of the Go-Away Bird

Andrea Eames - 2011
    As a young white girl in 1990s Zimbabwe, her life is idyllic. Her clothes are always clean and ironed, there is always tea in the silver teapot, gin and tonics are served on the veranda, and, in theory at least, black and white live in harmony.However this dream-world of her childhood cannot last. As Elise gets older, her eyes are opened to the complexities of adult existence, both through the changes wrought in her family by the arrival of her step-father Steve, and through her growing understanding of the tensions in Zimbabwean society. As Mugabe's presidency turns sour, the privileged world of the white farmers begins to crumble into anarchy.The Cry of the Go-Away Bird follows Elise as she attempts to make sense of her place in the world while her family struggle to stay afloat in the collapsing economy and escalating horror that surrounds them. As the violence intensifies and the farm invasions begin, Elise and her family are forced to confront difficult choices and the ancient unforgiving ghosts of the past.