21. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
After receiving a letter from a childhood friend about how to successfully raise her child as a feminist Adichie penned this short little book with fifteen suggestions. It will definitely appeal to anyone who is interested in equality for women. I give it a 7 out of 10.
20. Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
Ginny Moon is a 14 year old autistic girl. She probably also has some additional issues from trauma and malnutrition resulting from spending her early childhood with a drug addicted mother who did little to take care of her. She has now been adopted into a “forever home” with parents who love her but who are becoming increasingly wary of her behavior with a new baby on the way. The new baby has caused Ginny to be even more determined to get back to her birth mother Gloria to rescue her “baby doll”. The story is told through Ginny’s perspective and is really well put together to show how her mind processes things that seem to make complete sense to her, but to the outside world seem completely insane resulting in frustration for everyone. The ending of the book is probably a little too neat to be realistic given everything that happens, but is serves to give people a happy ending of sorts. I give it an 8 out of 10.
19. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
JoJo has spent most of his childhood being raised my his grandparents in rural Mississippi with his drug addicted mother Leonie occasionally showing up in his life. Now with his father being released from prison his mother comes to drag his toddler sister Kayla and him on a road trip to pick him up. Meanwhile JoJos seems to be coming into a family trait of being able to commune with the dead shared by his mother and grandmother. He is haunted by a boy who was once in prison with his grandmother while Leonie is wrestling with the ghost of her brother who met an untimely race related death in his high school years. Both are opening up keys to past secrets that have remained hidden in their family. It’s a wonderful and heartbreaking story beautifully told. I give it a 9 out of 10.
18. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy
Journalist Jill Leovy takes a deep dive into the story of the murder of Bryant Tennelle in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. It appears to be another gang murder, but Bryant is the son of a respected LAPD police officer. The story focuses on the Tennelle family and Detective John Skaggs who is the primary detective on the case trying to solve the murder. Leovy also uses this particular case to delve into the sociological factors that influence crime in poor, urban neighborhoods including a combination of overpolicing and underpolicing at the same time. It’s a really good book and one I think brings an important look from both sides as our country continues to face issues of police violence. I give it a 9 out of 10.
17. Setting Free the Kites by Alex George
In a small coastal town in Maine in 1976 13 year old Robert Carter meets Nathan Tilley who for a few short years becomes his best friend. Both boys are experiencing difficult circumstances in their families and rely on each other as family to try and get through some hard times. It’s a beautiful coming of age story. I highly recommend this book. I give it an 8 out of 10.
16. The Leavers by Lisa Ko
When Deming is 11 years old his mother an undocumented immigrant from China disappears without a trace. Eventually Deming, renamed Daniel, is adopted by two white parents and taken away from New York City to a small college town. Now as a college aged student he begins to explore his past and struggles to reconcile the life he once had with the one he lives in now.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It’s a really great look at family, identity, and immigration. I give it an 8 out of 10.