families -- fiction
Award-winning author Sharon Creech wove a lot of her own life into her books for young adults, including her first one, Absolutely Normal Chaos. Written as a journal as are many of her novels, what strikes a reader immediately are her humor and casual way of storytelling. Everything is told offhand, as if it doesn’t really matter—just a 13-year-old chattering. Until what happens does matter and things get serious. That’s when readers are grateful for the humor, and having a strong if strange family really becomes important.
With its simple, glowing pictures by Jill McElmurry reminiscent of folk art, Pat Zietlow Miller’s Sharing the Bread is a rhyming, picture-book distillation of the many good things about a shared Thanksgiving. All the family—aunt, uncle, mother, father, sister, brothers, grandmother, grandfather—help make the feast, and all the family enjoys sharing it.
Annabelle Balog wants her family to be a little more normal. Normal dads don’t wear old-timey Sherlock Holmes hats. Normal older brothers are actually home every once in a while. Normal little sisters aren’t in danger of being crushed under newspapers. And normal moms are not hoarders.
But Annabelle’s mother is a hoarder, and their house is packed to the brim with junk. There are towers of newspapers, hundreds of empty egg cartons and milk jugs, an entire room full of broken toys and dolls. Nothing can be thrown away, and, as Annabelle’s mother continues to collect and keep everything, there is little room left for anyone else.
In this fractured fairy tale, a mother with four boys uses all the old wives’ tales to try to conceive a girl. Nine months later, Claude, the fifth son is born, but Claude wants to grow up to be a princess. How Claude or any child achieves a happily-ever-after is what every parent worries about and what this book is about: love, marriage, family, acceptance, and raising children.
There are very few words in Joyce Sidman’s and Beth Krommes’ Before Morning, but more aren’t really needed. The story is simple, and the pictures work with the carefully chosen words to give all the emotional details about what is going on. A girl is sad one evening at bedtime because her mother, an airline pilot, is leaving very soon for work. While the rest of the family sleeps, a heavy snow blankets the town, making it so the planes are grounded. Mom comes home, and the family has a wonderful snow day together.
It is an uncomplicated plot, but there is much more to the story. The textured shapes of the scratchboard illustrations give a feeling of closeness and interconnectivity in each illustration. Before the snow, the people on the city sidewalks and on the streets in cars and on bikes are busy-busy. After the snowfall, everyone, including the squirrels in the trees, has slowed down and become playful as a holiday feeling settles over all.
Theresa, better known as Tree, is just at the age when guys are starting to notice her. She doesn’t have any time for them, though. She’s got to get home after school. With her mom working and living somewhere else and no dad they can remember, it’s up to Tree to look after her brother Dab. Dab might be older in years than Tree, but he’s younger inside. Always been that way.
No, Tree doesn’t have time for the boys and men who call her name on the street—until she sees the finest looking young man ever. He doesn’t call her name. He doesn’t say anything at all. The truth of the matter is, Brother Rush, for that is his name, is a ghost.
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Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
Caring for her family on their mid-20th-century tobacco farm after the loss of her parents, 15-year-old Ivy connects with Grace County social worker Jane, who strains her personal and professional relationships with her advocacy of Ivy's family, whose dark secrets test Jane's resolve against racial tensions and state-mandated sterilizations. (catalog summary)
If you like the historical drama, diversity, and transition of Necessary Lies, then check out these titles:
Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
A novel in stories, built around crucial moments in the lives of 3 generations of women in an Indian/Indian-American Family. (catalog summary)
The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman
Through an heirloom charm bracelet three women will rediscover the importance of family, love, faith, friends, fun and a passion for living as the magic of each charm changes their lives. (catalog summary)
Her sister’s young twins came to Luce after a hard patch. Which is to say, having their mother meet her end most violently at the hands of their stepfather. They were odd children, quiet to the point of not speaking and not looking people in the eye. Ever. They had some disturbing habits, too, which spoke of far more having been done to their small selves than they would fess to. Not that they were fessing to anything, encased as they were in their eerie, shared silence. In Charles Frazier’s Nightwoods, their eccentric Aunt Luce and the North Carolina mountain she calls home promise nothing to them, yet they do provide a haven—for a while.
The other day, I picked up a book off the new book display—drawn by the colorful cover and by the title. Mobile Library, by David Whitehouse, has a happy-looking cover, but it is anything but a happy book.
When a strange noise interrupts the Wimbledon family's sleep, father Walter goes to check. "It's only Stanley," he says. The family dog is howling at the moon. Everyone returns to the slumber, but the interruptions do not stop.
A clanking sound turns out to be Stanley hammering at the oil tank in the basement. A strange odor from the kitchen leads to the dog cooking catfish stew. Stanley appears to accomplish more in a single night than most people do in a whole week!