The summer reading program is here at is is Metamorphosis @ Your Library. At the Berwyn Public Library we have 2 displays going all summer. One will not change and it is a coming-of-age theme with two annotated lists. My server was not accepting the word documents so I will post the text here.
Aciman, André. Call Me By Your Name
Beautiful Italian countryside is the setting for Aciman’s psychological study of a first crush and young gay love. Seventeen year old Elio is used to his parent’s summer guests, but this year’s graduate student Oliver is a true charmer. Elio’s intense feelings and the boys’ eventual romance is detailed in Aciman’s lush prose.
Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home
Bechdel, author of the popular Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip, presents her autobiography in a graphic format. The story mostly revolves around her relationship with her closeted, philandering father and how she reconciles his homosexuality with her own coming out issues.
Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
The Wao family saga has been influenced by the fuku curse as well as by the history of the Dominican Republic’s brutal dictator, Trujillo. The curse is blamed for much of the tragedy that befalls the family, but Oscar, an overweight “ghetto-nerd” is convinced he can still find true love and happiness. Told in a distinctive voice, this impressive novel won this year’s Pulitzer Prize.
Hedges, Peter. An Ocean in Iowa
Seven year old Scotty Ocean is devastated when his mother abandons the family. He is sure it is his fault and his only remedy is to stay seven forever. Hedges’ follow-up to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? is perfectly realized through the eyes of Scotty, reminding the reader of how the world is perceived at seven years old.
Iweala, Uzodinma. Beasts of No Nation
Civil war breaks out in an unnamed West African country. After a young boy’s family is killed, he is taken by a guerilla leader as part of his army of children. As a soldier, the boy commits unspeakable acts in order to save his own life. Told in the boy’s broken West African English, this slim novel is intense and affecting.
Langer, Adam. Crossing California
The California of the title is California Avenue in Rogers Park; it is also the dividing line between East and West, poor and rich, Jewish and not. With this setting and the backdrop of the Iran Hostage Crisis, Langer tells the funny, sweet and pop-culture laden coming-of-age story of Jill and Michelle Wasserstrom.
Lowenthal, Michael. Charity Girl
Frieda Mintz is a naïve young woman working in a department store during World War I. During an impulsive evening with a soldier, she contracts an STD and is sent to live in a detention center for so-called “charity girls.” There she is subjected to ridicule, poor conditions and invasive medical exams; learning the hard way that life isn’t always simple.
Mosley, Walter. Fortunate Son
African-American Thomas and white Eric are raised as brothers for the first several years of their lives but after Thomas’ mother dies and he goes to live with his alcoholic father, they end up following very different paths. A touching parable about race, culture, privilege and unconditional love.
Sittenfeld, Curtis. Prep
Escaping her middle class, small town Indiana upbringing, Lee Fiora heads to an elite private high school on the East Coast. She’s not the prom queen, she’s not the loser, she’s not the jock, she’s plain and a perfect, insecure adolescent observer and ultimate partaker of the politics of private school.
Brown, Rita Mae. The Rubyfruit Jungle
The book tells the story of Molly Bolt, a lower-class girl growing up in rural Pennsylvania, learning about sex and dealing with her own homosexuality, leaving home and starting a life of her own, college, city life, dating, etc. When a college romance erupts into scandal, she decides to follow her dream of being a film director and makes her way to New York--where she finds that her gender, even more than her sexuality, has stacked the deck against her.
Fischer, Jackie. An Egg on Three Sticks
Abby Goodman lives in a comfortable suburban San Jose, California, home in the early 1970s with her staid, predictable father, her precociously bright younger sister and her mother, Shirley. It is Shirley's descent into suicidal mental illness that sets Abby's internal compass spinning out of control. The pain of adolescent years is compounded by the challenge of a family torn apart by the ravages of mental illness.
Johnson, Diane. Le Divorce
When California girl Isabel Walker comes to visit her stepsister Roxy in Paris, she discovers that Roxy’s husband has left her for another woman. Roxy is distraught, alone, pregnant and left to face her in-laws at Sunday dinner. It is up to Isabel to help Roxy pick up the pieces and decide if this is the time for Le Divorce.
Lamb, Bette Golden. Bone Dry
Cancer patient Carl Adams has been blasted and wasted with chemotherapy until he is barely alive. Tomorrow, he will be given his last chance for survival and infused with his own bone marrow, frozen and stored in the lab of one of California’s most prestigious hospitals. Then he receives the note: “We have your marrow…pay or die.”
Letts, Billie. Where the Heart Is
Novalee Nation is 17, pregnant and on the road with her boyfriend who leaves her stranded when she goes in an Okalahoma Wal-Mart to buy a pair of house slippers for her swollen feet. She doesn't dissolve, but adapts well to her unfortunate situation and camps out in the local Walmart, where she winds up having her baby. The book explores her growing relationships with various inhabitants of the town, as we watch her and her baby grow and mature.
Margolis, Sue. Gucci Gucci Coo
Ruby Silverman is thirty two and still single, running Les Sprogs, an exclusive baby boutique, when her mom (at the age of 50) announces her pregnancy. Though Ruby enjoys her line of work, she can't help but to feel a little pressure to find the right man and maybe start a family of her own. Then she meets Dr. Sam Epstein, an American doctor working in London. All goes along beautifully until Ruby uncovers some possible shady goings on at the maternity hospital that may involve Sam.
Mitchard, Jacquelyn. A Theory of Relativity
Georgia and Ray die in a tragic car accident, leaving behind their one-year-old daughter Keefer. Georgia's adopted brother Gordon McKenna wants to adopt Keefer, believing it would fulfill his sister's dying wishes. Unfortunately, his wealthy in-laws also wish to adopt Keefer. The issue of what constitutes a "blood relative" arises when Gordon's adoption request is initially dismissed because he is an adopted relative rather than a blood relative.
Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield, a seventeen year old prep school adolescent, relates his lonely, life-changing twenty-four hour stay in New York City as he experiences the phoniness of the adult world while attempting to deal with the death of his younger brother. Reluctance to leave the wonderful, innocent, carefree world of youth is understandable and almost universal – the quintessential coming of age story.
The other display case has a more whimsical feel. For now it is books with insects, but coming in July it will change again. Here is the text...
The insects in these stories may be
found in the title or they may be
found in the plot.
Anderson-Dargatz, Gail. A Recipe for Bees
Augusta Olsen has been given the gift of clairvoyance from her mother. Unfortunately it has not kept her out of a loveless marriage or a lackluster life. It isn’t until she starts using her mother’s other gift, the craft of beekeeping, that she is able to transform her life.
Blunt, Giles. Black Fly Season
It’s spring in Canada’s remote Algonquin Bay and that means the arrival of swarms of black flies. When a young woman walks into a bar covered in fly bites not knowing who or where she is, the locals are as confused as she is. It is up to two local detectives to solve the mystery of who she is.
Estrin, Marc. Insect Dreams: the half-life of Gregor Samsa
Gregor Samsa, the main character from Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, has been sold to a Viennese circus after turning into a cockroach. After the circus loses interest he heads to America, becoming a half man, half insect superhero, revisiting major events of the 20th century such as Prohibition, the feminist movement and the Scopes trial.
Herbert, Frank. Hellstrom’s Hive
In Herbert’s future police state America, Dr. Hellstrom has been working in his underground laboratory creating something so horrifying that not even the Agency could have imagined it. He is breeding a human hive where individual will is suppressed and all work is done for the good of the collective.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis
Waking to find himself turned into a giant beetle-like insect, Gregor Samsa becomes a disgrace to his family and an outsider in his own home. Is this the most famous story of metamorphosis? Perhaps, but it is definitely an absurdly comic parable about alienation.
Kingsolver, Barbara. Prodigal Summer
In a detailed Appalachian setting, Kingsolver presents three intertwined stories during the course of a humid summer. Wildlife biologist Deanna Wolfe, “bug scientist” Lusa Landowski, and feuding neighbors Garnett Walker and Nannie Rawley are revealed through their relationships with nature and the land they share.
Pearl, Matthew. The Dante Club
Members of the Dante Club, including Oliver Wendell Holmes and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow are busy translating Dante’s The Inferno. Halting their work is a series of grisly murders based on those found in the pages of The Inferno. Knowing that their knowledge of the author is not common, the Dante Club decides to conduct their own investigation.
Saul, John. The Homing
A crazed entomologist turned serial killer has chosen insects as his method of murder. Fifteen year old Julie Spellman has been infected with a buzzing concoction of mutant mind controlling insects that also gives her the ability to infect others. A fast paced thriller not for the weak of stomach.
Swainston, Steph. The Year of Our War
Three humanoid species live peacefully together until they are threatened by the Insects. It is up to Jant Comet, who is the only one among the humanoids that can fly and has access to an alternate universe, to save his world from an imminent civil war.
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