The origin of the Iñupiaq Messenger Feast (an ancient tradition for native Alaskans) is retold in the magical middle grade novel Eagle Drums by Nasugraq Rainey Hopson (Roaring Brook Press, 2023). Piŋa is a resourceful and helpful young man for his father and mother, but when he goes to the mountain to collect obsidian rock, he

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Everyone except Maddie, and I mean everyone, has been inexplicably evacuated from her town in the middle of the night in the beginning chapters of the free verse novel Alone by Morgan E. Freeman (Aladdin, 2021). Now Maddie has no access to anyone (phones have been abandoned). She is without electricity and running water and

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The graphic novel memoir Stitches by David Small (W.W. Norton, 2009) haunts the reader with stories from David’s troubled childhood in stark black, white, and gray illustrations. David’s childhood seems oppressive, and the variety of perspectives that David uses to show the seas of faces around him gives an added feel of overwhelm that correlates

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Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, March 2000) is called Because of Winn-Dixie because it tells of the things that happened because Winn-Dixie, a dog, came into Opal’s life. The first thing was that Opal found Winn-Dixie. Opal was lonely. She just had moved to a new town, and she had no friends and now she

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Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is a powerful story about a rich and spoiled Mexican girl whose sudden impoverishment in the 1930s takes her into the migrant worker camps of California. It teaches much about the Great Depression as well as discrimination during that period.  At the beginning of the novel, Esperanza lives a

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At my classics book club last night, one of the women had not had a chance to read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (published 1940), but she came to hear the discussion about it nonetheless. She was not familiar with the book, and as we discussed it, she commented on how

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I was surprised by Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (published 1916). I thought it would be an Our Town-esque view of life in a small town. It was very similar in its setting to Thornton Wilder’s play in that it focused on people in a small community. But Sherwood Anderson’s collection of stories was remarkably

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The three plays by Tennessee Williams that I’ve read in the past few weeks all dealt with loneliness, the fragility of dreams, and the masks we all wear as we go through life. Given these themes, it’s no wonder a thread of discontent and depression seemed a hallmark of Williams plays. But add a stupendous

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Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski is about taking chances: daring to love again after having lost all. Although as a post-war novel it captures one man’s search for himself in the form of looking for his lost son, Little Boy Lost remains relevant to all men and women as they search for their own

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In his stories, Vladimir Nabokov so perfectly captures a character, or a setting, or an emotion, that I feel that the character is real, the setting surrounds me, and the emotion is my own. His writing in these stories is so well done that I, a very amateur writer, feel the urge to try my

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To understand Flannery O’Connor’s short stories is understand the rural South that she was familiar with in the pre-1970s. Her stories focus on aspects character in human, every-day situations all revolving around her South, dealing with race relations, Christianity, rural versus city living, parent-child relationships, etc. She brings the reader into the settings by capturing

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I read a review of Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri on The Pulitzer Project. The next day, I saw it on display at the library. I hope reading a review of it prompts you to pick it up, too. It is an incredible collection of short stories. Amazingly, this collection is the author’s first

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