“This book is very eye-opening to the struggles of the civil rights movement and is told through intimate accounts of four engaging characters,” writes the nominator of “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. Stockett’s bestseller takes place in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi where the lifestyle of white families depends on the work of black women employed to take care of their houses and children. An aspiring writer with a growing desire for social justice, Miss Skeeter begins collecting interviews of black women and their abuse at the hands of their employers, with the hope of publishing their words in spite of the risks; they could lose not only their jobs but also their lives. The voices of maids Aibileen and her best friend Minny are memorable and heartfelt, and their stories keep readers on the edges of their seats, rooting for their success.
“I read this a year ago and can’t stop thinking about it,” says the nominator of “A Gate at the Stairs” by Lorrie Moore. “Heart-wrenching and captivating,” this coming-of-age tale takes place in the Midwest shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The book follows college student Tassie Keltjin for a year of life in which she becomes a nanny for the newly adopted biracial child of an older white couple and confronts racism, sexual awakening and family tragedy. Poetic language and wry humor lift this sad story out of the darkness.
Another One Read 2011 suggestion from our friends in cyberspace: “Before I Forget” by Leonard Pitts.
This debut novel follows a faded 1970s soul star who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 49. Overwhelmed with regrets, and unable to confess his diagnosis, he sets out to make things right with his estranged son and his dying father. The reader nominating this title comments, “‘Before I Forget’ is extremely well written; the author is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist whose columns appear in the Columbia Daily Tribune. The book deals realistically with the issues of Alzheimers, family relationships, poverty, teen pregnancy, gang-related violence, etc.”
A DBRL reader nominates Michael Gruber’s “The Good Son” for the 2011 One Read title. This layered thriller is set in Pakistan where a band of jihadists kidnaps nine members of an international peace symposium. Sonia Laghari, a deeply religious Jungian psychologist, emerges as the hostages’ leader, while her son – a former soldier – plots a risky rescue. Our reader explains that this work “explores terrorism and spirituality and is a fascinating study of a multicultural family.”
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