A Northern Light Book Cover

A Northern Light

A Northern Light is a story of a girl's search for identity and independence, complicated by the demands of family and financial struggle.

Mattie is faced with how to live her dreams without feeling as though she is betraying her family.
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn book cover

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a timeless classic as well as one of the best coming of age stories of all time.

Set in the early 1900's, the story follows the hardships as well as the achievements of the Nolan family.
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Ada, Legend of a Healer book cover

Ada, Legend of a Healer

This Book is a poignant representation of American culture in the twenty-first century, a story of compassion and the unconquerable power of the human will.

Ada has spent her life shutting people out, but now, with the power to heal the stakes are much higher. What was once a life unnoticed, has turned into a life stalked by those who want to control her. Read More

Jane Eyre book cover

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is an incredible example of the strength of the human will but also the tenderness of the human spirit.

Jane is an orphan sentenced to the lower class of society because of her loss. She grows beyond society's judgment into a sensitive woman not afraid of life's challenges.
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Young Fu book cover

Young Fu

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze is a story of unbearable pressure and struggle but also of the adaptable nature of youth and the importance of sound character. Forced away from the quiet solitude of his family's farm, Young Fu is thrust into the fast, and sometimes cut-throat, pace of city life where he'll be faced with hard choices that will eventually define the man he'll become.
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Huck Finn book cover

Huck Finn

Huckleberry Finn tells the story of societal conditioning and the struggle of a young boy who's determined to do what feels right in his heart.

Huck is faced with a choice, to help a good friend or turn his back on a man that society has judged a slave.
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The Giver book cover

The Giver

Jonas lives in the perfect society, no crime, no financial woes, no suffering, but at what cost? His new job, which was chosen for him by officials, will open a vault of secrets that will certainly bring into focus what he's never questioned: what's the price of a "perfect" society? Read More

The Joy Luck Club book cover

The Joy Luck Club

A The Joy Luck Club is a mesmerizing story of mothers and daughters filling in the gaps of misunderstanding that built up over years of high hopes and unreasonable expectations.
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The Hobbit book cover

The Hobbit

A day well spent for a hobbit is good food, a cozy fire and a full pipe, all in the safe confines of home. Bilbo's comfortable existence is interrupted by a visit from a wizard who wants Bilbo to leave behind all he knows for a mysterious adventure.
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Catcher in the rye book cover

Catcher In The Rye

Everyone expects Holden Caulfield to know what he wants to do with his life, but at sixteen what Holden wants to do is the opposite of what everyone thinks he should. Heading home after being kicked out of school, Holden sets out on a downward spiral of bad choices. Will he find his way?
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the outsiders book cover

The Outsiders

Ponyboy and his gang, the Greasers, have spent their whole lives silently accepting their place at the bottom of society's ladder. But, will they be able to remain silent when a gang of rich kids, the Socs, threaten to beat up any "greaser" they come across?
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homeless bird book cover

Homeless Bird

Koly fears that if her husband, of a pre-arranged marriage, dies she will be unwanted and even worse cast out of society in India. She can't go back to her own family and her husband's family will only see her as a burden. Why should one person's value be based on another's?
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time of the doves book cover

Time of the Doves

In Spain during the civil war, a young girl named Natalia stumbles onto her path in life, learning that despair, loss, and sorrow are, at times, the painful ingredients in self discovery. But, along this dark and troubled road is where her true character begins to bloom.
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Swann's Way book cover

Swann's Way

Marcel Proust beautifully captures life through the eyes of a young boy growing up in French society during the late 19th century. The narrator describes his thoughts and feelings on the parental injustices and naive confusion of coming of age.
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The Red Tent book cover

The Red Tent

The Red Tent is the story of Dinah, a biblical figure from The Book of Genesis. Dinah is barely mentioned in the bible, but Anita Diamant masterfully weaves a story that brings her to life along with a richly detailed vision of what life was like for women during the biblical times.
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The Lord of the Flies book cover

The Lord Of The Flies

A powerfully written, but disturbing example of the wicked nature that lingers just under the surface of humanity. What would become of a group of boys stranded on an uninhabited island?
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Children of the Arbat book cover

Children of the Arbat

This book follows the lives of a circle of young friends coming of age in Russia during the reign of Stalin. Anatoli Rybakov masterfully describes the psychological destruction inflicted on a generation subjected to Stalin's oppressive governing through fear.
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Children of the Arbat Book Cover


Title:

Children of the Arbat

Author:

Anatoli Naumovich Rybakov

Publisher:

Little Brown & Co (T);

Page Count:

685

ISBN #:

0316763721

Website:

Publication Date:

1st English-language ed edition (May 1988)


Description:
Children of the Arbat is set in an artistic and intellectual neighborhood in Russia during Stalin's reign. Sasha is devoted to the communist cause but is accused of rabble-rousing and is arrested, thrown in prison, then exiled to Siberia. His mother and a close knit group of friends are left behind to sort out and decide how to help or ignore his cause. Sasha's path to coming-of-age leads him through an arduous journey of discovery through extreme hardship. Simultaneously the reader follows an assassination attempt by Stalin on a close colleague, as well as his twisted descent into paranoia.

 


Thoughts:
Sasha is an ambitious and dedicated young man trying to rise up in a political movement that he truly believes would benefit humanity, but he learns the hard way that even the best of intentions are not immune to corruption and tyranny. The betrayal from the movement he is dedicated to, and the disregard by longtime friends, causes him to re-evaluate the values he was once so certain of.
It is one thing to be passionate about something but another to be blinded by one's passion. In Sasha's case his blindness imprisoned him in more ways than one, but it also opened doors that allowed him to discover his true understanding and purpose. It's funny how certain and sometimes bullheaded we can feel about ideas and issues in our youth, and then, how quickly life can sweep away those certainties and leave us humbly wondering if we truly hold any answers.

 


A question that came to mind while reading Children of the Arbat:
Are today's politicians and governmental institutions really what we want future generations to recognize us by?

 


Favorite quote:
"The thought of Sasha going into exile with a party of criminals, who might rob him, harm him, beat him, brought back to her the full measure of the unhappiness that had been heaped on her son: he was a marked man, persecuted, an outcast without rights.
            --Anatoli Rybakov Children of the Arbat

 

 

 

The King's Fifth Book Cover


Title:

The King's Fifth

Author:

Scott O'Dell

Publisher:

Sandpiper

Page Count:

272

ISBN #:

0618747834

Website:

 

Publication Date:

September 4th, 2006


Description:
Set in the 16th century, The King's Fifth, Estéban, is in prison in Spain, waiting for his trial. The king believes Estéban knows the way to the treasures of Cíbola and wants his payment. Trapped in a cell surrounded by people trying to wheedle the map from him, Estéban has to use all his wit to stay alive. He recounts his adventures in the New World to the court and ends up running into several unexpected old acquaintances.

 

Thoughts:
Scott O'Dell eloquently portrays the time of the conquistadors.  The greed for gold and complete disregard for human life is unnerving. O'Dell beautifully describes what North America must have looked like, and portrays the tribal setting vividly. The attitude of the conquistadors was cruel and disturbing, but Estéban's story reminds us of the courage and sound values that many people maintain even when surrounded by tyranny.

 

A question that came to mind while reading The King's Fifth:
The idea of aliens coming from outer space to take over the earth might seem silly but if it were a reality it would be beyond frightening. How did the natives of North America feel when they were invaded and eventually ruthlessly conquered?

 

Favorite quote:
            'On the morrow, as God is my witness,' he said, 'I shall climb the mountains, cross the Despoblado, find that infamous teller of lies, and remove his tongue.'
            Scott O'Dell The King's Fifth

 

 

 

The House of the Scorpion book cover


Title:

The House of the Scorpion

Author:

Nancy Farmer

Publisher:

Simon Pulse

Page Count:

380

ISBN #:

0689852223

Website:

 

Publication Date:

1970


Description:
Matteo Alacran discovers a frightening secret. He's a clone with no human rights in a country ruled by a drug lord. He's surrounded by people he thought he could trust but soon finds out most only see him as a means to an end. Matteo has no hope of survival if he stays where he was born, but there are differences that he doesn't realize define him and the world beyond is just as hostile toward his kind.

 

Thoughts:
Matteo is a considerate and kindhearted character. It's very disturbing that because he is a clone the world would reject him as an individual who deserves civil or human rights. Nancy Farmer's book The House of the Scorpion brings to light the serious issues that would arise for human clones, not to mention the horrendous cruelty they would be subject to, if they did ever exist. Farmer's world is definitely a dystopia that today's society could easily slip into given the right scientific and technological advancements and the clouded and sometimes twisted values that society falls prey to.

 

A question that came to mind while reading House of the Scorpion:
How does society decide which living creatures have a right to live and which creatures are at the mercy of society's demands and standards, for example if someone started cloning humans?

 

Favorite quote:
            'El Patrón had an instinct for people he could enslave,' said Tam Lin. 'He was such a powerful presence. Power's a strange thing, lad. It's a drug and people like me crave it.'
            Nancy Farmer The House of the Scorpion

 

 

 

The Book Thief Book Cover


Title:

The Book Thief

Author:

Markus Zusak

Publisher:

Alfred A. Knopf

Page Count:

576

ISBN #:

0375842209

Website:

Publication Date:

2007


Description:
The life of Liesel Meminger sparks the interest of an unimaginable observer, Death. With little hope for humanity and a cynical perspective, Death narrates the events that unravel in Liesel's life, fascinated by the good and evil that make up human nature.

 


Thoughts:
Amazingly written, Markus Zusak captures the voice of Death as narrator of The Book Thief. The description, the glances at future events, even the cynical and twisted comments make for a very captivating and at times disturbing voice of Death. As the book shows, there is nothing simple about human nature. Nazi fanaticism causes neighbors and families to turn on each other and the eventual persecution and murder of innocent people, but through the fear and chaos some find the courage to stand against tyranny in their own way.

 


Questions that came to mind while reading The Book Thief:
Should a citizen be held accountable for following laws that are later found to be criminal? Nazis and their followers created laws to alienate, dehumanize, persecute and murder Jewish people. Many German soldiers after the war claimed they were only following orders. How can we expect people to follow laws and orders and punish others for following laws and orders?

 


Favorite quote:
"When death captures me," the boy vowed, "he will feel my fist on his face."
            --Markus Zusak The Book Thief

 

 

 

The Catcher in the Rye Book Cover


Title:

The Catcher in the Rye

Author:

J.D. Salinger

Publisher:

Back Bay Books; Reissue edition (January 30, 2001)

Page Count:

288

ISBN #:

9780316769174

Website:

 

Publication Date:

1951


Description of the book:

"The majority of the novel takes place in December 1949. The story commences with Holden Caulfield describing encounters he has had with students and faculty of Pencey Prep in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. He criticizes them for being superficial, or, as he would say, "phony." After being expelled from the school for his poor academic performance, Holden packs up and leaves the school in the middle of the night after a physical altercation with his roommate. He takes a train to New York but does not want to return to his family and instead checks into the dilapidated Edmont Hotel. There, he spends an evening dancing with three tourist girls and has a clumsy encounter with a young prostitute named Sunny.His attitude toward the prostitute changes the minute she enters the room. Holden becomes uncomfortable with the situation, and when he tells her that all he wants to do is talk, she becomes annoyed with him and leaves. However, he still pays her for her time. Sunny and Maurice, her pimp, later return to Holden's hotel room and demand more money than was originally agreed upon. Despite the fact that Sunny takes five dollars from Holden's wallet, Maurice punches Holden in the stomach.

." (Taken from Wikipedia)


Thoughts on the book:
Holden is confused about what he wants to do with his life. This confusion seems to overflow into failing school and avoiding anyone who might question him about his plans for the future. He reaches out in his loneliness to connect with others, but those he chooses to connect with either take advantage of him or have other plans that don't include him. What will become of Holden Caulfield; will he find his way?


A question that came to mind while reading The Catcher in the Rye:
Does a child benefit more from education at an expensive school or less education and more time with caring parents?


Favorite quote:
"I never seem to have anything that if I lost it I'd care too much about."
            --J.D. Salinger the Catcher in the Rye

 

 

Ender's Game Book Cover


Title:

Ender's Game

Author:

Orson Scott Card

Publisher:

Tor Science Fiction

Page Count:

352

ISBN #:

9780812550702

Website:

Publication Date:

July 15, 1994


Description:
During a time when society lives under population control and the threat of alien invasion, nothing seems impossible. For five-year-old Ender, being accepted into a military school that will groom him to be the next commander to save the world from mass destruction is a responsibility he's not sure he's cut out for or wants to even attempt. Compound this coming-of age struggle with a secretive military that can't be trusted and you have an engaging page turner in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.

 

 

Thoughts:
Military leaders are found young in Ender's Game, and most are ruthless by the nature of their age. Earth barely escaped the first attack by hostile aliens, so preparing aggressively for a second attack seems like the only chance for survival. When certain destruction or enslavement is looming over humanity, old laws and rights are going to disappear in order to ensure survival. But how can we be sure that our actions aren't emanating panic and what type of person do we trust to lead people during such an uncertain time? Ender's Game brings to light these issues and more.

 

 

One of many questions that came to mind while reading Ender's Game:
When it comes to saving humanity from certain destruction, do civil rights fall to the way side until the threat is neutralized?

 

 

Favorite Quote:
            "...the power to cause pain is the only power that matters, the power to kill and destroy, because if you can't kill then you are always subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever save you."
                                Orson Scott Card Ender's Game

 

 

 

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