This novelization of Malcolm X's boyhood gives the reader a great deal of insight into the Civil Rights leader's childhood challenges and the motivations he had for becoming a great, if controversial, leader. The novel is well written by his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz and must contain family insights that a stranger would not be able to include. An excellent read!
I tend to enjoy novels that have two plot strands, one historical and one modern. Conversion by Katherine Howe is the second book I've read this summer with this structure, but I definitely see the pattern a lot in the books I enjoy the most.
The historical plot occurs in the aftermath of the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts and features the confession of Anne Putnam, one of the girls "bewitched" during this bizarre period of American history.
The modern plot is reminiscent of an incident that took place in Le Roy, NY in 2012, but as a means of writing her own story, the author has chosen to re-set her fictionalized version in Danvers, MA. The story follows a group of girls who begin to experience some strange symptoms including seizures, fainting, twitching, stuttering, etc. While none of these symptoms would be unusual in one girl, the fact that by the end of the book, over 50 girls are affected causes panic in the community. The main character Colleen struggles to understand what is happening around her while also trying to maintain her normal life as a high school senior.
Probably most entertaining to me was the cast of adult characters who react in all too realistic ways to this assault on their children, but I think young adults will prefer to watch Colleen try to unravel what gets coined as the Mystery Illness.
What is Beauty? Is it in the eye of the beholder? Does it require something plain as a foil in order to be seen and enjoyed? Does virtue make one beautiful? Who is beautiful? Kim Kardashian? Audrey Hepburn? Mother Teresa?
I find these questions very interesting, and apparently, so does Elizabeth Ross, the author of Belle Epoque. Set in turn of the twentieth century Paris with the Eiffel Tower being built in the background, the protagonist Maude ran away from her provincial home to find a more exciting life. Nearly destitute, she takes a job as a repoussoir, a plain girl hired to make her society client appear more beautiful by contrast. As Maude begins to regard her client Isabelle as more of a friend than income, she finds that she must make some difficult choices.
This book reminds me a lot of We Were Liars in that they both look at the question of how people play roles in elite Society. The drive for status will cause many to be exactly what they believe that role requires, wearing a mask that hides reality.
2015 RITBA nominee
Mrs. Carlino: librarian, technology teacher, intrepid reader, armchair (and real when I can swing it) traveler, vegetable gardener, and outdoor lover!
Some other sites where I have reviewed books:
Other lists of great reads:
A .pdf File from the MA Department of Eduction that outlines suggested reading for grade level. The authors that will help you be "well-read":
I found this nice list of classics for middle schoolers thanks to a teacher in New York. Thanks to Mr. Shapiro wherever you are!