Suggested One Read: How to Read the Air

Book cover for How to Read the Air by Dinaw MengestuCritically acclaimed author Dinaw Mengestu describes the immigrant experience in hauntingly lovely prose in “How to Read the Air,” our next One Read nomination. This is the story of Jonas, who leaves behind his marriage and job in New York to recreate his mother and father’s road trip taken 30 years previously. Along the way he weaves together a family history that will take him from the war-torn Ethiopia of his parents’ youth to his life in the America of today.

Our nominator writes, “In gorgeous language, Mengestu explores the disintegration of relationships, the effects of abuse, the difficulties of immigration and the loss of one’s culture.”

Thank you to everyone who suggested books to be considered for the 2013 One Read program. As the reading panel begins its work, we will continue to highlight nominated titles so you can learn what others in the community are reading and discussing.

Suggested One Read: Just Like Us

Book cover for Just Like Us by Helen ThorpeThe publisher of “Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America” by Helen Thorpe describes this book as offering “a powerful account of four young Mexican women coming of age in Denver–two of whom have legal documentation, two of whom don’t–and the challenges they face as they attempt to pursue the American dream.”

Our nominator recommends “Just Like Us” for One Read 2012 because “immigration – especially illegal immigration – is an important, timely issue in our country. This is the true story (with the names of the families changed) of four girls about to graduate from high school and how their legal status affected their lives.” Coming-of-age, social conditions for Mexican-Americans and the living conditions of undocumented workers are all topics ripe for discussion.

 See other readers’ nominations for One Read 2012.


Suggested One Read: Little Bee

Book cover for Little Bee by Chris CleaveDuring the month of December we are highlighting books nominated to be next year’s One Read selection. “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave was the 2011 choice for Seattle Reads, and a local reader thinks this would be a good choice for our community-wide reading program as well.

The story begins in the voice of refugee Little Bee: “Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl. Everyone would be pleased to see me coming.” Sarah and Andrew, a British couple on vacation in Nigeria, fatefully encounter Little Bee and her sister—the only people to survive a massacre in their village—and are confronted with an excruciating decision in an attempt to save them. A few years later, Little Bee seeks refugee status in London and reconnects with Sarah, the two forging an unlikely friendship.

Our nominator writes, “This is a beautifully written and powerful novel about a Nigerian refugee in the UK. While it is fiction, it highlights true-life issues faced by refugees within the context of a gripping story. Since Columbia is home to many refugees, it seems like a fitting book for our community.”

See other readers’ nominations for One Read 2012.