What I love most about reading is the ability of an author to transport me to a whole new world—to another time, place, culture or religion—and give me an insight into that life. The books in this month’s recommendations take us on three totally different journeys. The first book, written by the daughter of immigrants, takes us on a voyage of identity. The second is an inspiring look at the life of a little-known, but nevertheless remarkable member of the Kennedy family, and the third unravels a fantasy tale of a young witch and her rather unusual family.
Senior Editor and Profiles Editor, Christina Consolino, brings us this suggestion: “Personal essay collections have recently become my go-to for those days when I have only a few moments to read. Most recently, I picked up All the Colors We Will See: Reflections on Barriers, Brokenness, and Finding Our Way, by Literary Mama contributor Patrice Gopo. As a child of Jamaican immigrants, Gopo grew up in Alaska, feeling like she didn’t quite belong. That same feeling followed her to new cities and countries, and forms the backdrop of her book. In her essays, she explores the nuances and complexities that surround the concept of identity in the context of race relations, immigration, cultural differences, and religious beliefs. She features stories from her distant past as well as the present time, weaving the details seamlessly. Gopo’s writing is at times poetic and other times forthright, all of it honest and revealing. With this collection, she starts a conversation that we can all take part in and challenges each of us to ‘wonder if the very differences dividing us might bring us together after all.’ “
Jamie Sumner, Reviews Editor, enjoyed this biography: “I love anything that has to do with the Kennedy era. I will watch and read it all, including Stephen King’s 11/22/63. But the book I recently read, Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World, cast a spotlight on a woman about whom I knew very little. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Joe Kennedy’s daughter, never sought the limelight. Instead, she worked quietly and powerfully to orchestrate a civil rights movement for those with intellectual disabilities. She founded the Special Olympics and she championed the voices and abilities of those with special needs. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eileen McNamara tells her story in a way that champions a woman who was a champion for so many others. As a mother to a son with special needs, I found this biography beautifully told and powerful.”
Juli Anna Herndon, Poetry Editor, thinks you might like to read this with your kids: “I’ve been on a two-year-long quest (that is finally coming to a close) to read every Newbery Award-winning book. The 2017 winner and my most recent read, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, is a tightly composed fantasy story primarily about a young girl, Luna, who is accidentally fed moonlight as a baby and therefore ‘enmagicked’ (turned into a witch) for life. As a backdrop for Luna’s coming of age, the author also weaves stories about her unconventional family (an ancient, forgetful witch, a bog monster who may also be the creator of the world, and a Perfectly Tiny dragon), and about characters in the nearby village, where an annual tithe of the youngest baby in the town causes a cloud of sorrow to hang over the people. As Luna and other characters grow into their own powers, they learn about the danger and necessity of family secrets, the power of inherited trauma and the stories that belie it, and the perniciousness of both sorrow and hope. This story hit all the right notes for me: it’s imaginative and a little edgy with a complex and nuanced allegory. Each character is full of color, life, and contradiction, making them compelling and lovable. It is rare for the Newbery committee to choose a fantasy story for the award, but this one is exceptional; the fantasy elements and worldbuilding are pervasive without being overly complicated or corny. Finally, Barnhill’s prose is as wild and luminous as Luna’s magic. The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a startlingly modern fantasy story for both kids and their grown-ups.”
Have you found time this summer to catch up on any good books? Fill us in by leaving a recommendation in the comments, or tweet us @LiteraryMama. You can also follow us on Instagram @Literary_Mama and Goodreads for more recommendations.