Categories

Visit Me at LibraryThing

Archives

November 2014
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Elsie is a baker’s daughter in 1945 Germany. Her family is somewhat sheltered from the realities of the war by her older sister’s participation in the Nazi Lebensborn (breeding) program, and the attentions of a Nazi official. When a Jewish boy follows Elsie home and asks for shelter, she must decide whether to continue being her family’s daughter, or if she should choose for herself what is right.

In modern day Texas, Reba meets Elsie, now a bakery owner with a daughter of her own. Reba discovers that the seemingly simple task of interviewing Elsie for a newspaper article opens a floodgate of emotions for both herself and Elsie. Together, the two women reveal pieces of their own stories to each other, and find a way to make peace with the past and the present.

Told in alternating points of view from young Elsie and present day Reba, this novel is hard to put down. While not quite as suspenseful as Sarah’s Key, the story is well-written, and the characters struggle with similar issues of right, wrong and what we can and should do about it.

Charlie’s mom died of cancer, and his dad has retreated into silence to cope with his grief. Lonely and friendless, and looking for an escape from junior high bullies, Charlie wanders into the woods one day and meets a grizzly bear. But this is no ordinary grizzly bear, as Charlie soon discovers. The grizzly bear, Emory, soon becomes a friend to Charlie. But keeping a grizzly bear as a secret friend is no easy task. Charlie must decide whom to trust with his secret, and how he can protect Emory from the community.

I loved that this book wasn’t just an animal story. Charlie has to deal with all sorts of realistic issues: bullies at school, after school fights, pretty girls, first dances, first kisses, arguing with his dad, missing his mom, and watching his dad enter the dating world. While this is an adult novel, and not juvenile fiction, it reminded me a lot of The Nine Lives of Travis Keating. The subject matter might be a bit much for most middle school students, but high school students as well as adults will enjoy this heart-warming, realistic and slightly fantastical story about a boy and a bear who rescue each other.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

27th February 2012

A worthy addition to the post-apocalyptic genre. It was similar in style and feel to Life as We Knew It. When a supervolcano erupts unexpectedly near Alex’s Iowa home, he is separated from his parents. Desperate to reunite with them, he begins the dangerous journey in the midst of a cataclysmic ashfall. Facing hunger, injury and violence, Alex also finds unexpected friendship and help. I’m eager to read the sequel, Ashen Winter, due out in October.

So Big by Edna Ferber

20th February 2012

Orphaned at age 19 in the late 1800’s, Selina accepts a job as a school teacher in the community of New Holland. Even though New Holland is only a few hours drive by wagon to her former life in Chicago, Selina is not prepared for the shock of living in the tiny, conservative truck-farming community. The grinding work and poverty take a toll on even the hardiest of souls. Determined to continue finding beauty in life and learning, Selina throws herself into her teaching, and later into her family farm. When her son, Dirk, “SoBig” DeJong is born, Selina promises herself that he will not be bound to the farm, and that he will have every opportunity that she herself lost. This is a rich novel, with much to discuss and analyze. I was most struck by how Selina lost every privilege, and yet didn’t lose hope, either for herself or her child. Dirk’s response at being given every opportunity would also be worthy of discussing.

Rebecca’s life is turned upside down when her mother suddenly takes Rebecca and her little brother from their Baltimore home to their grandmother’s home in Atlanta. Expecting a quick trip, Rebecca is shocked to learn that they have left her father behind, and will be staying in Atlanta. New school, new kids, new house, new city. Rebecca is furious with her mother, and homesick for her dad and Baltimore.

When Rebecca discovers a magical bread box in her grandma’s attic, she thinks that she has found an easy solution to her problems. But even though her wishes are being granted, her problems seem to multiply. Somehow, Rebecca must figure out a way to make everything right again. This would be an excellent book to read in conjunction with Eight Keys. Both books have similar themes of grief, bullying, friendship and family, and it would be interesting to compare and contrast how the characters deal with their problems. Another excellent read for 5th-8th grade girls.

« Older PostsNewer Posts »