Summer Reading Recommendations
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Call Your Daughter Home
by Deb Spera
This historical debut novel follows three strong Southern women from three very different segments of society. Set in South Carolina in 1924, the lives of Gertrude (a poor white woman with four daughters), Retta (a first-generation freed slave), and Annie (the matriarch of a local, influential family), not only intersect, but they intertwine. This is an unforgettable story of family, community, and motherhood, where the strength of women is showcased as they stand up to injustices.
by Richard Russo
This Pulitzer Prize winning book, classified as a Vintage Contemporary, is set in the blue-collar town of Empire Falls, riddled with abandoned mills and dashed dreams. The storyline draws on the lives of lifelong friends and neighbors with truth, humor, and heartache.
by Richard Russo
Everybody’s Fool (2016) set in North Bath, New York, picks up a decade later with Russo’s beloved characters from Nobody’s Fool. Although time has passed, the flawed nature of these individuals has not changed. Once again, this Pulitzer Prize winning author allows us to share in their challenged lives with humor and heart.
The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls
This is an extraordinary memoir of a life within a loving, yet very dysfunctional family. The transient lifestyle and abject poverty of the Walls family is shocking. The resilience of the Walls children and their ability to care for each other, when their parents were unwilling or unable to provide for their needs, is remarkable. This story showcases the varied obstacles one may face in life and how individual choices can mean the difference between prosperity and homelessness.
Long Walk to Freedom
by Nelson Mandela
This autobiography of Nelson Mandela captures the essence of this global, human rights leader and his lifelong dedication against racial oppression. From prison, to president, to Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Mandela was a vital force for racial equality. This is a timely read-relevant to our present unrest. It is enlightening and full of hope.
Roberta Yarker Smith
Last Train to London
by Meg Waite Clayton
Published in 2019, this historical novel, backed by excellent research, deals with the Kindertransport that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe. This feat was accomplished largely due to the efforts of one woman, Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance. This is an enjoyable read of hope and determination.
Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope
by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudrum
This non-fiction book, published in 2019, draws the reader into an “other America”, as the authors address the crisis facing working class Americans. It draws on the lives of real people, many of whom once rode on the school bus with Nicholas in rural Oregon. They are representative of a vast number of individuals from across America who met tragic ends due to several factors, not excluding their own bad choices. The authors are sympathetic to those trapped in the cycle of difficulties and success. The New York Times described this book as “both riveting and impossible to ignore."