An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

american marriage“Until Death Do Us Part” or… until jail sets us apart – that’s a focal point of this well written, discussion-stirring novel by Tayari Jones. Celestial and Roy are a married couple, just one year into their love-filled relationship, doing well financially, planning for a child – when something unexpected happens and overturns their lives, sending Roy to prison for 12 years. Now, Celestial is at the cross roads and it seems like no matter what she chooses there is no joyful solution for either her or Roy. The first half of the book just zoomed by me; it was easy flowing and intriguing. The second half did slow down a bit, but it was still very good. The book touches on multiple subject matters including: racism, injustice, love & friendship, obligations, search for happiness. A good book for a book club discussion – evokes various feelings and opinions. (Submitted by Mariya)

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11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass

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I love preteen novels with elements of the supernatural and this book doesn’t disappoint. Amanda and Leo are old friends, born on the same day and always happy to celebrate their birthdays together. Until this one. Something happened to their friendship that left them estranged. Turning eleven can be hard but in this instance it gets harder as the day repeats on Amanda. She can’t escape all the bad feelings and her miserable Hollywood theme party creating a fun ride as she attempts to face it differently each time. Age appropriate relationships and the unexpected ways the day plays out will keep a young reader engaged in this enjoyable work. (Submitted by Pippa)

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Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout by Laura Jane Grace

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I’ve read a few biographies by or about musicians but this one was the most passionate, honest, but brutal in its way, so far. The title pretty much says it all; Laura Jane Grace started life as Tom Gabel, became involved in the punk music scene as a teenager and eventually fronted a punk band called Against Me! What I learned in between those 3 points is the struggle someone goes through when they feel like they aren’t who they are supposed to be and how self-destructive that feeling can make you all the while trying to live, work, create music, and to love. Reading about what Tom did to himself was tough, but I’ve never been close to anyone who has struggled with their identity like this, but it all felt very honest and upfront and I wanted to know how Laura Jane made it work. The book touched on her new life but I’m hoping she has the courage to tell us more in the future. (Submitted by Renee)

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The Colonial Problem: An Indigenous Perspective on Crime and Injustice in Canada by Lisa Monchalin

colonial-problemI dare say this single book gave me more information and knowledge about Canadian Indigenous People than half a dozen of history textbooks that I came across while in high school, college, and university – combined. Technically, this book is a textbook. But, in reality, it reads so well and it is so interesting, that I, personally, don’t view it as a dry academic material. I purely enjoyed it. It enriched my knowledge and opened up my eyes to many things I often overlooked. Also, the author does an excellent job inviting a reader to be included in the conversation and this inclusion creates a special bond that enables you to better understand the culture and people you are reading about. By the way, Lisa Monchalin is an international speaker and advocate who brings light to various Indigenous matters that were and, sometimes still are, misunderstood or misrepresented. Doctor Monchalin is the first Indigenous woman in Canada to hold a PhD degree in Criminology. (Submitted by Mariya)

Would you like to meet Lisa Monchalin in person and hear her speak about the book she wrote? Well, you are in luck! You get a chance to do so on Wednesday, September 26, 2018; 6:30 pm-8:30 pm at the Guildford Library in Surrey, BC. Event is FREE; registration is required. Call 604-598-7366 to register.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

astonishing A beautiful exploration of mental illness, family, and culture. The Astonishing Color of After takes place immediately after Leigh’s mother has committed suicide. Leigh, who is already a teenager discovering her place in the world, struggles to come to terms with what happened – and how her mother’s depression has affected both Leigh and her father. Believing that her mother’s spirit is still present, Leigh travels to Taiwan to reconnect with her estranged maternal grandparents.

This is a beautiful, thoughtful look at mental illness and grief, as well as an exploration of Taiwanese culture (the author’s background as well.) It’s also a touching reflection on family. The chapters move back in forth in time – present day Taiwan, and in the past, with flashes of memory surrounding Leigh’s mother and parents.

The subject matter here could easily become either melodramatic or saccharine, but Emily X. R. Pan has managed to write an incredibly thoughtful and balanced book that explores heavy topics with grace and a deft hand. I loved the writing, and I loved spending time with Leigh in Taiwan as she rediscovers her mother’s roots. Quietly powerful and highly recommended. (Submitted by Veronica)

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Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan

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I can’t remember why I placed a hold on Tell Me More, but I’m happy that I did. On the dust jacket it cites the Huffington Post, who call her “the poet laureate of the ordinary.” This book evoked all sorts of responses from me; I laughed, I cried, I sent photos of passages to friends. It was the recounting of experiences in life that provide suggestions about how to handle heartbreaks and joys that a reader might encounter in their own life. I plan to re-visit it. (Submitted by J.Wilson)

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The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

wrathdawnThe story is centered in a middle eastern city called Khorasan, many years ago. It follows a teen girl named Shahrzad who is on a revenge seeking mission to kill the young king of Khorasan. The king has been marrying a different woman every night, and then having them murdered the next day for many months now, and he had Shahrzad’s best friend killed. Shahrzad is the first woman to volunteer to be the next bride sacrifice, and the king cannot help but wonder why this girl would give up her life. As the two start to spend more time together, Shahrzad begins to realize that there must be a reason why the king kills these women, and she is determined to find out why. I was so impressed with how strong the female characters were in the story, and how the author seemed to make a point that women are capable of saving themselves. The story has romance, suspense, action, humour, and it is a bit like Game of Thrones mixed with Aladdin but for Young Adults. A good book to read in the summer. (Submitted by Joy)

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