Thursday, March 15, 2012

Anne Has Some Favorite Books By & About People Different From Her

For roughly the past month, in an effort to support diversity in children's literature, as well as to enjoy some amazing stories, I've been reading books by and about people different from me. I still have at least one more to go (and will continue to read them even when this month is finished), but wanted to provide an update on two I've especially enjoyed.

I've snuck Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter into several of my recent posts, so it shouldn't be a surprise how much I enjoyed it. As I said previously: "It's a fabulous read, and even though getting a grasp on all the political intrigues can feel a bit overwhelming at times, I've become absolutely enraptured by the rich historical and setting details, and the opportunity to have a front row seat while history is played out in front of me. Plus I love Shecter's imagining of Selene's position, trapped between her Egyptian and Roman heritage, gods, languages, and customs."

It was unexpectedly epic for a children's book, covering almost a decade of harrowing historical events, but this was a plus in my mind, as I was desperate to know what would happen. Even better, I finished the novel and listened to an interview with Shecter, where she revealed that most of the facts in the novel are historically accurate. WOW! How come I never knew that Cleopatra had a daughter? How come hardly anyone seems to have known this wonderful story? I'm so glad Shecter found out, and decided to bring it to light.

While I've been busy with my Reading Experiences series, I've neglected to mention another book I enjoyed: Ashley Hope Perez's What Can't Wait. I felt immersed in Perez's world, seeing everything through Marisa's eyes. And Marisa's life was so different from my own, coming from a family where money, marriage, and family commitments matter much more than academics. As Marisa struggles to pass the AP Calculus exam and get into an engineering program in Austin, her teacher struggles to understand what's holding her back, as Marisa seemingly fulfills the stereotype of a lazy Mexican immigrant. I loved the idea that sometimes even the "heroic teacher" character doesn't understand, and while Marisa has a super-sweet boyfriend, Marisa has to find courage within herself to lead the life she wants. It felt a very true story, and one I haven't encountered much in children's literature. Though fittingly, I just saw this article about a community project in Chicago to provide housing away from families, alongside other students, for Latino college students to complete their degrees.

That's what I love about reading, and especially reading diverse books. When I read that article, I thought of Marisa, and felt I had a greater understanding of some of the issues those students are going through.

I have one other book on my list for the month: Hidden by Miriam Halahmy:

"HIDDEN is a brave debut novel tackling the complex issues of immigration and human-rights laws, through the eyes of teenage Alix. A literary coming-of-age novel dealing with courage, prejudice, judgement, and the difficulty of sorting right from wrong. Challenging, charming, compelling."


I haven't read many (any?) British novel this past month, and Miriam is a fellow SCBWI member, so I'm really looking forward to it. Plus, LOVE the cover!

Have you read anything good lately? Any favorite diverse book suggestions?

8 comments:

  1. Wow, these all sound great. Thanks so much for sharing.

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    1. You're welcome, Kelly! Always happy to share good books!

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  2. Thanks for the plug Anne and I do hope you enjoy Hidden. We've just had two amazing launches for the second book, Illegal, so its all go over here in London. Excellent that you are championing diversity and a very interesting set of books.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Miriam! I'm delighted to post about Hidden, and only embarrassed that it's taken me this long to get around to it. But the good news is that Illegal is already out, so I won't have to wait!

      It is a rather eclectic list of books, isn't it? ;)

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  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed Cleopatra's Moon! What Can't Wait and Hidden sound wonderful--they're already on my TBR list.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! And seriously--loved Cleopatra's Moon! Thanks for a great book! Enjoy Hidden and What Can't Wait!

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  4. I'm really glad that you make an effort to read book with diverse characters -- kudos to you. :)

    And I'm really glad that you liked CLEOPATRA'S MOON, it's such a lush book (and Vicky is good writer friend of mine), so I'm also happy for her that you liked it as well. :)

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    1. Thanks, Karen. It's certainly not a hardship! There's so many books on my TBR pile, including diverse ones, so it's a nice excuse to tackle some of the books I've been so eager to read, with no limitations or to-do list other than diversity!

      And how cool that you are Vicky are writing buddies! Course, now that I think about my geography, that makes total sense, but still! You're both so lucky to have each other!

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