Shelf Life Blog
When you’re thirteen, it seems as though everything will be the same always, especially if you live in a traditional culture. For John Bul Dau, life with his large family and many friends as cattle keepers in the Dinka tribe was wonderful. The elders were wise and taught them what they needed to know to become strong men and women. There was time for work and time for play. All of that changed the night the Northern soldiers destroyed their village, as told in John Bul Dau and Martha Arual Akech’s Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping the Civil War in Sudan.
Flavia de Luce, an eleven-year-old genius with a flair for chemistry, lives a lonely but intriguing life in the crumbling family mansion. Her lovely older sisters delight in tormenting her, and she returns the favor with diabolical brattiness. What one can do with certain itchy plant extracts and a tube of one’s sister’s favorite lipstick! The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by C. Alan Bradley, is set in post-World War II England. It’s a simpler time in many respects though things get rather more complicated when Father’s annoying visitor turns up dead in the garden by moonlight.
Recently I heard Jo Robinson on NPR discussing her latest work, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, and was riveted. So, move over Barbara Kingsolver. Sadly you’ve been replaced as my nutrition guru. I SOOOO loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.
This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.
The Sea by John Banville: "'I have carried the memory of that moment through a whole half century, as if it were the emblem of something final, precious and irretrievable,' says the narrator of Banville's Booker Prize-winning novel of a relatively trivial moment. But when he recalls the mother and daughter whom he first loved as a barely pubescent child-whose presence pulled him out of the shadow of his paltry self-he observes, 'The two figures in the scene, I mean Chloe and her mother, are all my own work.' Memory, then, is the subject of this brief but magisterial work, a condensed teardrop of a novel that captures perfectly the essence of irretrievable longing. After the death of his wife, Max has retreated to the seashore where he spent his childhood summers, staying at an inn that was once the home of a magnificent, careless family called the Graces. It's as if reawakening the pain of his first, terrible loss-that high-strung and volatile Chloe-will ease his more recent loss." (Library Journal)
If you enjoyed this title, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
Atonement by Ian McEwan
On a summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment's flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant. But Briony's incomplete grasp of adult motives and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives.
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Prince Myshkin, a good yet simple man, is out of place in the corrupt world created by Russia's ruling class.
Sherlock Holmes once remarked to Watson that “the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”
Indeed, readers who enjoy suspense, strong characters, and immersing themselves in the deceptively quiet and sometimes lethal English countryside of Victoria’s reign should enjoy Anne Perry’s A Christmas Visitor. Though it does feature a character from her well-established William Monk series, it is not necessary at all to have read those books to appreciate this one.
Cath is a Fangirl. Like many teens her age, she loves the hugely popular Simon Snow fantasy books. But Cath is not simply resigned to wait for each new volume's release. She writes new stories about magical prodigy Simon and his school roommate, vampire, and possible nemesis, Baz.
Dragons Love Tacos! The word is out. These mystical creatures have a weak spot for Mexican cuisine. They want it all: really big, gigantic tacos and tiny, little baby tacos. Dragons adore them. But, why?
RASL: The Drift deals with alternate universes. Worlds that are just like this one, with only the slightest differences. Looking for those small clues is sometimes helpful, sometimes upsetting, and this is especially true if you are not entirely sure what dimension you are in.
“Ye Toads and Vipers!”
Meggy Swann has reason to be angry. Her mother had finally succeeded in getting rid of her, having her dumped miles and miles from home at her father’s tiny house in London. She’s never met him before, and he clearly doesn’t want her. It’s not like she can run away somewhere else though. An accident at birth has left her legs crooked, and she is in constant pain.
Only able to walk with the help of two sticks, the world of 1573 can be an especially cruel place for such a one, but she has angrily adapted. Alchemy and Meggy Swann, by Karen Cushman, tells her story from the time she is dumped like a sack on her father’s narrow doorstep, frightened and seemingly helpless, to the brave things she must do to protect herself and others she has come to love.
The Blessing Cup, by Patricia Polacco, is a wonderful story for anytime, but especially during the holidays when family gathers close for this is a family story. Patricia Polacco’s great-grandmother Anna and her family came to America from Russia after the Czar ordered all the Jews to leave the country. Just like that, they had to leave behind everything they couldn’t carry. Momma and Papa packed the sewing machine, their menorah, the shofar, his tallis, and holy books. But also precious to them was the tea set they were given when they were married.