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· And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

 

Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

 

· The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

 

If you've ever wondered what your dog is thinking, Stein's third novel offers an answer. Enzo is a lab terrier mix plucked from a farm outside Seattle to ride shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off. Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zoë, and risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of opposable thumbs, watches Denny's old racing videos, coins koanlike aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man. When Denny hits an extended rough patch, Enzo remains his most steadfast if silent supporter. Enzo is a reliable companion and a likable enough narrator, though the string of Denny's bad luck stories strains believability. Much like Denny, however, Stein is able to salvage some dignity from the over-the-top drama.

 

· The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply in love.  Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for each other seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town or Oriental, North Carolina.  But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.  Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for a funeral.  Neither has lived the life they imagined...and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives.  Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers soon realize that everything they thought they knew—about themselves and the dreams they held dear—was not as it seemed.  And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead:  Can love truly rewrite the past?

· The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

 

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.


Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

 

· Boots and Saddles by Elizabeth B. Custer

 

The honeymoon of Elizabeth Bacon and George Armstrong Custer was interrupted in 1864 by his call to duty with the Army of the Potomac.  Her entreaties to be allowed to travel along set the pattern of her future life.  From that time onward, she did indeed accompany General Custer on all his major assignments except the summer Indian campaigns, “the only woman,” she said, “who always rode with the regiment.”  This is the story of Elizabeth B. Custer told in her own words.  She was not only a housewife on the Plains; she was whatever the occasion demanded:  nurse to a group of frostbitten soldiers; any-hour-of-the-day hostess to the regiment, since her husband was not fond of entertaining; the garrison’s favorite confidante; and would-be Indian fighter whenever the women of the regiment had to be left alone.

 

· Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo

 

When his sister tricks him into taking her guru, a crimson-robed monk, on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused.  Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he’d planned.  But in an effort to westernize his passenger—and amuse himself—he decides to show the monk some “American fun” along the way.  From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley Field to his family farm in North Dakota, Otto is give a remarkable opportunity to see his world—and more important, his life—through someone else’s eyes.

 

· Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

 

In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals, Larry the child of white, lower middle-class parents and Silas the son of a poor, single black mother.  Their worlds were as different as night and day, yet, for a few months, the boys stepped outside of their circumstance and shared a special bond.  But then tragedy struck; on a date, Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again.  She was never found and there was no confession, but all eyes rested on Larry.  The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all.  He and Larry’s friendship was broken, and then Silas left.  Over twenty years have passed, Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion.  Silas has returned to town as a constable.  He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again.  Now, two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they’ve buried and ignored for decades.

 

· Defending Jacob by William Landay

 

A 14-year-old boy is stabbed to death in the park near his middle school in an upper-class Boston suburb, and Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber takes the case, despite the fact that his son, Jacob, was a classmate of the victim. But when the bloody fingerprint on the victim’s clothes turns out to be Jacob’s, Barber is off the case and out of his office, devoting himself solely to defending his son. Even Barber’s never-before-disclosed heritage as the son and grandson of violent men who killed becomes potential courtroom fodder, raising the question of a “murder gene.” Within the structure of a grand jury hearing a year after the murder, Landay gradually increases apprehension. As if peeling the layers of an onion, he raises personal and painful ethical issues pertaining to a parent’s responsibilities to a child, to a family, and to society at large.

 

· The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

 

A long-lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a grand but moldering old place in the English countryside.  Once home to Edie’s mother fifty years before, during World War II, the only current residents are the elderly Blythe sisters, Persephone (Percy), Seraphina (Saffy) and Juniper.  Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s story—uncovering secrets hidden in the stones and discovering the long-awaited truth of what really happened in “the distant hours” of the past.

 

· The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

 

Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert.  According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived.  Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path.  Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death.  Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed.  Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier.  Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power.  The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege.  All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.

 

· The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

 

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

 

· The  Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

 

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

 

· The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

 

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation.  Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children.  In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains.  Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly.  Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict”.  Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.  Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town—and the family—Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape.  He drank.  He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days.  As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

 

· The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

 

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love--and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

 

· The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

 

It takes a graveyard to raise a child.

Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family.

 

· The Greater Journey by David McCullough

 

This is the story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, hungry to learn and to excel in their work.  What they achieved would profoundly alter American history.  Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America, was one of this intrepid band.  Another was Charles Sumner, whose encounters with black students at the Sorbonne inspired him to become the most powerful voice for abolition in the U.S. Senate.  Friends James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F. B. Morse worked unrelentingly every day in Paris, Morse not only painting what would be his masterpiece, but also bringing home his momentous idea for the telegraph.  Harriet Beecher Stowe traveled to Paris to escape the controversy generated by her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Three of the greatest American artists ever– sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, painters Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent—flourished in Paris, inspired by French masters.  Almost forgotten today, the heroic American ambassador Elihu Washburne bravely remained at his post through the Franco-Prussian Was, the long Siege of Paris, and the nightmare of the Commune.  His vivid diary account of the starvation and suffering endured by the people of Paris is published here for the first time.  Telling their stories with power and intimacy, McCullough brings us into the lives of remarkable men and women who, in Saint-Gaudens” phrase, longed “to soar into the blue.”

 

· Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

 

“Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.”  So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, in Jeannette Wall’s magnificent true-life novel based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hard working, and spectacularly compelling grandmother.  By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses.  At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town—riding five hundred miles on her pony, all alone, to get to her job.  She learned to drive a car (“I loved cars even more than I loved horses.  They didn’t need to be fed if they weren’t working, and they didn’t leave big piles of manure all over the place”) and fly a plane, and , with her husband, ran a vast ranch in Arizona.  She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette’s memorable mother, Rose Mary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.

 

· Hopi Summer by Carolyn O’Bagy Davis

 

In 1927, a New England family of five embarked upon a remarkable nine-month journey across America by automobile.  Along the way, Maud Melville kept a journal, and her husband, Carey, took dozens of photographs.  The Melvilles also formed lasting friendships with several people they met on the Hopi mesas of Arizona, and Maud began a long exchange of letters and gifts with Ethel Muchvo, a Hopi potter, and her family.  This book tells, in part, the story of that friendship.

 

· Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

 

In 1986, Henry Lee joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown.  It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has discovered the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II.  As the owner displays and unfurls a Japanese parasol, Henry, a Chinese American, remembers a young Japanese American girl from his childhood in the 1940s—Keiko Okabe, with whom he forged a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcended the prejudices of their Old World ancestors.  After Keiko and her family were evacuated to the internment camps, she and Henry could only hope that their promise to each other would be kept.  Now, forty years later, Henry explores the hotel’s basement for the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot even begin to measure.  His search will take him on a journey to revisit the sacrifices he has made for family, for love, for country.

 

· In This Hospitable Land by Lynmar Brock Jr.

 

When the Germans invade Belgium in 1940, chemistry professor Andre Sauverin fears the worst. His colleagues believe their social and political positions will protect them during the occupation, but Andre knows better.  He has watched Hitler’s rise to power and knows the Nazis will do anything to destroy their enemies.  For the Sauverins are Jews, non-practicing, yes, but that won’t matter to the Germans—or to the Belgians desperate to protect themselves by informing on their neighbors. And so Andre and his brother Alex take their parents, wives, and children and flee south.  But when France falls to the Nazis, the refugees are caught in a rural faming community where their only hope for survival is to blend in with the locals.  Fortunately, the Sauverins have come to Huguenot country, settled by victims of religious persecution who risk their own lives to protect the Jewish refugees and defy the pro-Nazi government.  And as the displaced family grows to love their new neighbors, Andre and Alex join forces with the French Resistance to help protect them.  Based on one family’s harrowing true story of survival, In This Hospitable Land is an inspirational novel about courage and the search for home in the midst of chaos.

 

· The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

 

At the turn of the nineteenth century on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, young, white Lavinia, who was orphaned on her passage from Ireland, arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate, black daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, serve food, and cherish the quiet strength and love of her new family. In time, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master’s opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves. Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Kathleen Grissom’s debut novel unfolds in a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep-buried secrets, and familial bonds.

 

· The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

 

Acacia for secret love, daffodil for new beginnings, wisteria for welcome, and camellia for my destiny in your hands. In Victorian times, the language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions.  But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude.  After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.  Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go.  Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.  But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life.  And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

 

· The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

 

Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half day’s boat journey from the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife Isabel decide to raise the child as their own. The baby seems like a gift from God, and the couple’s reasoning for keeping her seduces the reader into entering the waters of treacherous morality even as Tom--whose moral code withstood the horrors of World War I--begins to waver.

 

· Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

 

From a desperately poor village in northeast China, to a career that took him across the world, this is the incredible story of Li Cunxin—a story that almost vanished, like so many other peasants’ lives, amid revolution and chaos.  At age eleven, Li was chosen by Madame Mao’s cultural delegates to be taken from his rural home and brought to Beijing, where he would study ballet.  In 1979, the young dancer arrived in Texas as part of a cultural exchange, wary of class enemies and prepared to “serve glorious communism.”   It didn’t take long for him to fall in love with America—and with an American woman.  Two years later, through a series of events worthy of the most exciting cloak-and-dagger fiction, he defected to the United States, where he quickly became known as one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world.  This is the remarkable story of his journey.

 

· The Martian by Andy Weir

 

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

 

· Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

 

As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man's unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs--alive and well--despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago. As Jacob begins to unravel more about his grandfather’s childhood, he suspects he is being trailed by a monster only he can see. A haunting and out-of-the-ordinary read, debut author Ransom Rigg’s first-person narration is convincing and absorbing, and every detail he draws our eye to is deftly woven into an unforgettable whole. Interspersed with photos throughout, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a truly atmospheric novel with plot twists, turns, and surprises that will delight readers of any age.

 

· The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Reves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Amidst the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

 

· Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

 

In Sterling, New Hampshire, seventeen-year-old high school student Peter Houghton has endured years of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his classmates.  His best friend, Jose Cormier, succumbed to peer pressure and now hangs out with the popular crowd that often instigates the harassment.  On final incident of bullying sends Peter over the edge and leads him to commit an act of violence that forever changes the lives of Sterling’s residents.  Even those who were not inside the school that morning find their lives in an upheaval, including Alex Cormier.  The superior court judge assigned to the Houghton case, Alex—whose daughter, Josie, witnessed the events that unfolded—must decide whether or not to step down.  She’s torn between presiding over the biggest case of her career and knowing that doing so will cause an even wider chasm in her relationship with her emotionally fragile daughter.  Josie, meanwhile, claims she can’t remember what happened in the last fatal minutes of Peter’s rampage.  Or can she?  And, Peter’s parents, Lacy and Lewis Houghton, ceaselessly examine the past to see what they might have said or done to compel their son to such extremes.

 

· The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

 

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

 

· Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

 

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers, were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum, a preacher’s son, it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years later, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

 

· Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 
   But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

 

· Room by Emma Donoghue

 

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world.  It is where he was born, and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play.  At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.  Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years.  Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack.  But she knows it’s not enough… not for her or for him.  She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck.  What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.  Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

 

· The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo

 

Set in a house on an olive grove in northern California, The Roots of the Olive Tree is a beautiful, touching story that brings to life five generations of women—including an unforgettable 112-year-old matriarch determined to break all Guinness longevity records—the secrets and lies that divide them and the love that ultimately ties them together.

 

· Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

 

This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.

 

· Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

 

Paris, July, 1942:  Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.  Paris, May 2002:  On Vel’d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past.  Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah.  Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel’ d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond.  As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

 

· Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

 

Somer’s life is everything she imagined it would be—she’s newly married and has started her career as a physician in San Francisco, until she make the devastating discovery she never will be able to have children.  The same year in India, a poor mother makes the heartbreaking choice to save her newborn daughter’s life by giving her away.  It is a decision that will haunt Kavita for the rest of her life, and cause a ripple effect that travels across the world and back again.  Asha, adopted out of a Mumbai orphanage, is the child that binds the destinies of these two women.  We follow both families, invisibly connected until Asha’s journey of self-discovery leads her back to India.

 

· The Shoemaker’s Wife  by Adriana Trigiani

 

The fateful first meeting of Enza and Ciro takes place amid the haunting majesty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the last century.  Still teenagers, they are separated when Ciro is banished from his village and sent to hide in New York’s Little Italy, apprenticed to a shoemaker, leaving a bereft Enza behind.  But when her own family faces disaster, she, too, is forced to immigrate to America.  Though destiny will reunite the star-crossed lovers, it will, just as abruptly, separate them once again—sending Ciro off to serve in World War I, while Enza is drawn into the glamorous world of the opera… and into the life of the international singing sensation Enrico Caruso.  Still, Enza and Ciro have been touched by fate—and, ultimately, the power of their love will change will change their lives forever.

 

· Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See


Lily is haunted by memories of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, who defined her existence.  She has nothing but time, now a she recounts the tale of Snow Flower, and asks the gods for forgiveness.  In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication:  nu shu.  Some girls were paired with laotongs, (“old sames”) in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives.  They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.  With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become “old sames” at the tender age of seven.  As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood.  The two fiind solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive.  But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

 

· State of Wonder  by Ann Patchett

 

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of stunning surprise and danger, rich in emotional resonance and moral complexity.  As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle.  Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness.  Stirring and luminous, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss beneath the rain forest’s jeweled canopy.

 

· Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

 

For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II.  Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota.  Trudy’s sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.  Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother’s life.

 

· The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

 

In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death.  Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.”  But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.

 

· Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

 

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

 

· What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

 

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, Nick, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (she hates the gym!) and is whisked off to the hospital, where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over: She is actually thirty-nine years old, has three kids, and is getting divorced. That knock on her head has misplaced ten years. Now Alice must piece together the events of the lost decade and find out if it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She needs to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her and how it is that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse—and how to start over...

 

· Wonder by R. J. Palacio

 

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Dickinson Area Public Library 
"Book Club in a Bag" List