“Beck House” by Janie Hopwood

Recommended to me by: a friend in Tifton, GA.

Janie Hopwood creates a colorful panorama of characters and events in this historical novel about her grandmother Rena Beck’s boarding house.

When Rena Beck’s husband died, leaving her a house but nothing else, she decided to take in boarders in order to provide for […]

“Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes” by Chris Crutcher

Recommended to me by: Tess Alfonsin

A hard-edged book for teens that takes on multiple tough issues:

Children’s cruelty to each other for being fat or disfigured What it’s like to grow up fat or disfigured Surviving parental abuse and abandonment Abortion Hypocrisy Religious intolerance by some Christians

While I applaud the author’s courage […]

“Mister God this is Anna” by Fynn

I bought this book about 20 years ago for the delightful drawing on the cover. At the time, I read it as a rescue story, set in the 1930’s in London’s East End. 5 year old Anna has run away from an intolerable home life, and is found and adopted by gruff, kind, 19 […]

“The Conquest” by Yxta Maya Murray

Recommended to me by: Cofax

This layered novel combines plot-driven swashbuckling adventure with a more cerebral battle over the contents and authorship of the historical record.

In the first layer of story, Sara, a proficient rare-book restorer, is absorbed by her work on a sixteenth century manuscript allegedly by a Spanish monk, to the […]

“Not Even My Name – From a Death March in Turkey to a New Home in America, a Young Girl’s True Story of Genocide and Survival” by Thea Halo

Recommended to me by: Joe Graziosi in a East European Folklife Center (EEFC) mailing list post Re: Books on Pontos/Pontian People?

Thea Halo and her mother Sano Themia Halo present a gorgeously detailed first-person account of the countryside, daily life, and people living in a tiny village in the Pontic mountains of Turkey south of […]

“Stay with me” by Garret Freymann-Weyr

Recommended to me by: Marissa Lingen

Narrated by oddly mature sixteen year old Leila (“Lee-la”) Abranel, this coming-of-age novel shows her both grappling with her much older sister’s suicide, and embarking on her second romantic relationship. The story is absorbing, but harrowing events and difficult emotions are described so quietly that the characters seem flat […]

“Transparent – Love, Family and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers” by Cris Beam

Cris Beam moved to LA with her partner and, almost accidentally, started teaching at a “small, scrappy high school for gay and transgender teenagers.” Many of the kids live on the street, supporting themselves through prostitution. This first-person account portrays their individual quirks, triumphs, and tragedies in casual, engaging detail.

“Living the T” is […]

“Three little words” by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

22 year old Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s articulate, harrowing memoir of her childhood in the Florida foster care system.

I read it in one sitting, pausing to cry in a few places. The three little words aren’t what you think. She has a journalist’s eye for detail and a poet’s eye for intensity, conveying a […]