Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin captures the days before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 for four very different children: a girl whose mother travels to New York, a Muslim girl, a boy who lives in New York, and a boy who lives Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Two days before, all four

Read Post

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, the Newbery Award Winner for 1991, is celebrating its 25th anniversary since publication. It’s hard for me to imagine this book being an “old” one, but since I knew I read it as a child, I should not be so surprised. Maniac Magee is the story of a legend, a

Read Post

Eliezer Wiesel was a deeply observant 13-year-old Jewish boy when Moishe the Beadle came to his town with descriptions of the horrors of the war, where Jewish men, women, and children were buried in graves they had themselves dug. No one in Eliezer’s town of Sighet in Hungary believed this was happening. It only a

Read Post

Quicksand, Nella Larsen’s debut novel (published 1928) was not nearly as satisfying to me as her second one, Passing (published 1929), which I found a complex but intriguing look at race and repressed sexuality for a light-skinned “coloured” woman in New York during the Harlem Renaissance (thoughts here). Despite my frustrations with Quicksand, it is

Read Post

In Jessie Redmon Fauset’s second published novel, Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral (published 1928), one woman struggles to finding her own identity racially and sexually in New York City during the vibrant years of the Harlem Renaissance. Artist Angela Murray is a light-skinned “coloured” woman in the transitional years of the late 1910s

Read Post

At first, The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar reminded me of The Help. Obviously, given the very different settings, the book was very different as a whole from The Help. But I loved reading about the friendship and lives of two very different women. The book was beautifully written, and although the realistic issues

Read Post

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a story of two children’s growing understanding of the double standards of the world. It’s also the story of a small community struggling to come together during the economic era of the Great Depression and the political upheaval of a mixed racial pre-Civil Rights southern town. It is

Read Post

Claude McKay was born in Jamaica 1889, and in 1912, after his first volume of Jamaican dialect poetry was published in Jamaica, he traveled to the USA, eventually settling in New York City and becoming a part of the Harlem Renaissance movement of artistic expression. In Harlem Shadows (published 1922), McKay captures his shock and

Read Post

Passing by Nella Larsen (first published 1929) captures the conflicts that young African-American women face in 1920s America. Although solidly a part of the Harlem Renaissance in the ways it tackles racial issues, Passing also magnificently captures a young woman’s repressed sexuality. The terms “passing” refers to a light-skinned African-American acting as white in order

Read Post