by T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong, 2018
In 2008, Marie was raped. She reported the crime to the police, but because there were inconsistencies in her story and because someone close to her expressed doubt, the police told her she was lying and convinced her to recant her accusation. She was charged with filing a false report, made to explain her actions to the fellow residents who lived in the housing complex subsidized by a nonprofit that helped foster children in transition, and spent years dealing with the subsequent court case. In 2011, Marie’s photo was found on the camera of a Colorado man who was charged with raping several other women. Marie had been telling the truth.
by Richard Adams, 1972
My first question about Watership Down is, why did no one ever tell me to read this?! You see, I love bunnies. Aside from Care Bears, I was not a teddy bear kind of kid. I was also never a doll kind of kid and the only dolls I had were ones that other people bought for me and not ones that I asked for. No, I loved bunnies, and it is still one of my greatest regrets that I have yet to adopt a bunny as a pet. I also feel a pang of regret for the fact that my childhood passed without ever reading this adventure tale about a gang of bunnies looking for a new, peaceful home. Society, you have let me down!
by Joby Warrick, 2015
One of the things committing to reading prize-winning books has done is force me to read books on subjects I would normally overlook. I would have never picked up the Wayward Children series because it’s fantasy, and I doubt I would have ever gotten around to reading Evicted, even though the subject matter does interest me. Black Flags is another book I would have never endeavored to read, were it not for its having won the Pulitzer Prize, but, in this case, I think I would have been just fine not having picked this one up. Call me an ignorant American, but I only have a certain amount of mental and emotional energy to spend on the world’s ills and ISIS is not close enough to me to make the cut. Don’t get me wrong – to say they’ve committed terrible acts would be an understatement, but I’m more worried about someone walking into the school where I work and shooting up the joint. That’s just the world I live in at the moment. (Is that privilege? Yes. Yes it is.)
by Seanan McGuire, 2017
I was so excited to pick up my copy of the newly released third volume of the Wayward Children series. As someone who does not love fantasy, I was surprised by how much I liked Every Heart a Doorway, and I simply adored Down Among the Sticks and Bones. I’m happy to report that Beneath the Sugar Sky does not disappoint, neither in its depiction of a fantastical world nor in its straightforward dealing with issues of discrimination and marginalization. Seanan McGuire is the epitome of a writer for our times. (Insert small spoiler alert here, as the main plot of this book deals with a plot point from book one.)
by Ali Smith, 2017
Winter is the second book in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet, and I excitedly picked up my hold from the library the same week it was published. Following the same style of writing as Autumn, Winter is a meandering tale that ponders the meaning of familial connections and art. In her 70s, Sophia is mildly disconcerted to see a head floating about and following her throughout her house. She is a prim sort of woman, taking pride in her otherwise perfect vision and her standing as a “Corinthian account holder” at her bank. Things start to unravel when the head will simply not go away and a Christmas dinner forces Sophia to confront her feelings about long-estranged members of her family.
by Madeleine L’Engle, 1973
narrated by Jennifer Ehle
This is the book that taught me the word “mitochondria”!
In this second installment of the Time Quintet, we find Meg Murry worried about her younger brother Charles Wallace. He’s being bullied at school over his intelligence and his penchant for speaking about complex subjects like an adult. At home, Charles Wallace is seeing dragons in their back yard, and he and Meg discover some unusual feathers. Meanwhile, Charles Wallace appears to be getting sicker and sicker, suffering from some sort of malady that affects his breathing. Their microbiologist mother believes it may be a disorder of his mitochondria and their farandolae. Later, Meg teams up with Calvin O’Keefe, and the two engage in a cosmic battle involving good and evil and a Fantastic Voyage-like journey inside Charles Wallace to save his life.
by Celeste Ng, 2017
I loved Everything I Never Told You, so I was supremely excited to get my hands on Celeste Ng’s second novel. Like her debut, Little Fires Everywhere focuses on suburban life, both the promise that it holds and the prison that it can become. Elena Richardson has a seemingly idyllic life with her husband Bill in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Bill is a successful attorney, Elena is a respected local journalist, and their four high school-aged children – Lexie, Trip, Moody, and Izzy – complete this portrait of a perfect American family. Well, except for Izzy who, at the beginning of the novel, has set fires in each of the bedrooms of the Richardson home. Izzy has always been Mrs. Richardson’s greatest struggle and she will be her ultimate undoing.