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The Help by Kathryn Stockett

02nd December 2009

I could not put this book down.  My children and home were horribly neglected as I devoured this fantastic novel.  Skeeter is a 22 year old white girl, living at home in Mississippi in the 1960’s.  She wants to be a writer, but doesn’t know how to make that dream come true.  Aibileen and Minny are black maids, working for Skeeter’s friends.  They too have dreams of something more, but are trapped by the society in which they live.  The 3 women come together in an amazing way to claim their dreams and stand up for what’s right.

This is a must-read book and would be perfect for a group of friends or a book group to read together.  It begs to be discussed, savored and enjoyed with other women.  And although the book alone was fantastic, the addition of an author’s note at the end makes it even better.  Stockett reveals some personal childhood experiences and how they led to the writing of her book.  It makes the rest of the book that much more meaningful.

This is one of those delightful books that seems to be about a lot of unrelated incidents, and then at the end, the author ties them all together so neatly, you spend the next day marveling at the way it all came together.

Some of my favorite features of the book:  authentic, middle school friendships; a realistic, yet loving mother-daughter relationship; beautiful references to A Wrinkle in Time; adults who don’t always get it right, but generally try to help kids; and did I mention the beautiful way the end all comes together?

A definite recommendation for middle school readers, both guys and girls.

Alice’s Tulips by Sandra Dallas

23rd September 2009

Another outstanding book by Dallas, told entirely through letters that Alice, a young farmwife in Iowa, writes to her sister.  Alice’s husband joined the Union army, and Alice is left to run the family farm, with the help of her disapproving mother-in-law.  Alice is young, irresponsible and unaware of the brutality of war.  When Alice is accused of murder and the whole town seems to turn against her, Alice learns who and what is truly important.

Alabama Moon by Watt Key

07th September 2009

Moon and his Pap have been living in the Alabama wilderness for as long as Moon can remember.  They are completely self-sufficient and trust no one.  When Moon’s Pap dies, Moon is determined to carry out his father’s last wishes, and travel to Alaska.  But before Moon can begin his trip, he is taken into state custody and locked up in a boy’s home.  Moon quickly makes both friends and enemies in his quest to flee to Alaska and find a place where he belongs.  An excellent book. Would be great for late elementary/middle school reluctant readers.

I am so delighted to have discovered Sandra Dallas.  Her books are just fantastic.  The Persian Pickle Club is a group of quilters who have been meeting for years to quilt, gossip and support each other through thick and thin.  Queenie Bean loves the Pickles, but when Rita moves to town, Queenie is thrilled at the prospect of having a younger Pickle join their the club.  But Rita isn’t as interested in quilting as she is in solving a murder mystery that the rest of the club would just as soon see go unsolved.

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