The Round House - Louise Erdrich
This story follows Joe a normal 13 year old boy living on a reservation with his parents a reservation judge and an attorney. One Saturday his mother goes into the office and doesn't return at her normal time. When she finally appears she has been raped and beaten so baldly she is near death. Joe and his dad are able to save her by rushing her to the hospital but while her body recovers her mind doesn't and as she slips further and further from her husband and son. Her rape case almost completely stalls out hampered by the fact that no one is quite sure where she was raped because she absolutely refuses to talk about it, reservation land, federal land, county land. Joe feels that he has to solve the case himself in order to bring his mother back. This story covers some of the darkest, sickest, parts of human nature. It is a painful coming of age novel and parts are extremely difficult to take but it is well written and Joe so compelling I stomached through the hard topics. Be warned there is a pervy grandma in here so if that makes you uncomfortable, probably better to avoid.
Legend- Marie Lu
Teenage love. Day and June. A new world. June is a fighter from an elite family. Day is a wanted fugitive whose family thinks he is dead. I feel like there are a million young adult books out there like this. Everyone wants to be the next Hunger Games, Matched, or Divergent. This one is ok. Not great but ok.
Mary Coin-Marisa Silver
This story follow three characters. You have Vera Dare, a photographer with a philandering husband who is employed by the US government to record the the great depression on film. You have Mary Coin a migrant mother travelling from farm to farm trying to care for her large family after her husband dies. You have Walker Dodge, a modern day professor who studies photography. All of them are joined by an image Vera took of Mary that becomes the image of the depression. I loved this book. There were definitely adult topics but it was the type of book that after I spent just as much time reading up on the real characters that inspired the book as I did reading the actual novel. Vera Dare is a real photographer named Dorothea Lange. She had a philandering husband who was an artist. She had two young boys who she had to put with a stranger as she traveled the US photographing the depression in order to make a living and support them. Mary Coin is based on Florence Owens Thompson. Florence was pregnant with her sixth child when her husband died in 1931 from tuberculosis. She ended up having four more children and worked like you wouldn't believe to support them. I think most of us have read a few depression era based books, but this one really focused in on what it meant to be a mother alone with children trying to survive during the depression times before we had any real government safety net to catch people.
City of Orphans-Avi
Maks 13 is a newsie living with his immigrant family. The whole family has to work hard just to keep food on the table. One day when being chased for the 80 cents he needs to buy his papers the next day a homeless girl Willa saves him. Maks takes Willa home to meet his family and she is adopted in by his parents. At this same time Maks' older sister is arrested for stealing from a swanky hotel she works at. Maks and Willa join together in order to solve the crime and free Emma. This is a children's chapter book that deals with some darker topics but I thought it was fun and it definitely had me looking up topics like Pinkertons. Once again I found myself reflecting on immigration into this country. On public education that is now required and paid for by the state. On child working laws. On what it means to be a citizen. Like I said, definitely deals with some deeper topics even though it's target audience is probably 10-12 year olds.
Between Shades of Gray-Ruta Sepetys
This was my favorite book in this grouping. Written by Ruta Sepetys ,who also wrote The Book Thief, the story follows 15 year old Lina whose family is shipped to Siberia when the Soviet Union annexes Lithuania . Lina's father has been arrested earlier so it only her mother, her brother, and her who get sent on the month long train ride. Conditions are horrific. There are many times when you think, certainly things will not got worse, and then they do. Heartbreaking, while fiction the novel is based on real stories relayed to Ruta by her Lithuanian family. Interestingly their history has been largely forgotten. After years in labor camps Lithuanians were allowed to return home but because their country was now part of the communist block were completely shut off from being able to share their history. I was slightly embarrassed by the title because more then one person thought I was reading a "Shades of Grey" book, but I was so pleased with this story I forced my book group to read it.
Anya's Ghost-Vera Brosgol
I got this book because I have a friend who was always trying to convince me to try more comic books. This one was scary, had drugs, slutty teens, murder, and girlfriend abuse. It was definitely not for kids, and also not for me. I think I'm fine with just avoiding graphic novels forever...with the exception of Calvin and Hobbs because my kids love those.