207 Many Waters

manywatersby Madeleine L’Engle, 1986
narrated by Ann Marie Lee

Oh, Maddy. Why you gotta be so problematic? This fourth installment of the Time Quintet focuses on twins Sandy and Dennys and occurs before the events of A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Good-looking, athletic, and popular, the twins are the odd ones in the exceptionally intelligent Murry family. They’re the least likely to think about tessering or visiting other dimensions, so when they enter their parents’ lab while an experiment is in progress, they’re especially shocked to find themselves thrown onto a sandy desert circa who-knows-when.

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206 A Swiftly Tilting Planet

swiftlytiltingplanetby Madeleine L’Engle, 1978
narrated by Jennifer Ehle

Alas, the third book in the Time Quintet suffers a little bit from boredom. We’ve moved ahead in the Murry’s lives and find Meg married to Calvin and pregnant with their child. Twins Sandy and Dennys are in law and medical school and Charles Wallace is a teenager. The family has gathered together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Calvin is off in England giving a conference, so they are joined by his mother, Mrs. Branwen Maddox O’Keefe. The dinner is interrupted when Mr. Murry receives a call from the president warning him of impending nuclear war set in motion by the South American dictator known as Mad Dog Branzillo. After Mrs. O’Keefe utters a mysterious rune, we’re off on another adventure in time and space.

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205 A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America

afalsereport

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.

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204 Watership Down

watershipdownby 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!

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203 The Obelisk Gate

obeliskgateby N.K. Jemison, 2016
narrated by Robin Miles

I wish I understood what everyone sees in these books. I promise I’m trying, but I’m simply unmoved by this and most of fantasy. Consequently, I had a hard time following what was happening. Here’s my best attempt to piece it together. (Spoilers for The Fifth Season below, as they are unavoidable in discussing the sequel.)

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202 The Queue

queueby Basma Abdel Aziz, 2013
translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette

In a modern, unnamed Middle Eastern city, a line of people has formed outside a Gate. Stretching for kilometers, the queue is filled with people trying to take care of bureaucratic needs. We meet Ines, a teacher who has been required to receive a Certificate of True Citizenship to continue teaching at her school. We meet Um Mabrouk, who starts selling tea to other members of the queue to make up for the money she is losing from abandoning her job. We meet Shalaby, whose aim is to convince everyone that his cousin is a martyr who should be revered for his actions during the Disgraceful Events. And we meet Yehya Gad el-Rab Saeed who is suffering from a bullet lodged in his pelvis during those same Events. Yehya wants nothing more than to receive a copy of his X-ray showing the bullet and permission to have it removed. Bullets are the property of state and cannot be removed without permission, so Yehya waits, with his peers, in front of a Gate that does not open.

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201 Night

nightby Elie Wiesel, 1972
translated from the French by Marion Wiesel

This is one of the most affecting pieces of literature I’ve ever read. Elie Wiesel was 15 in 1944 when the Nazis entered Hungary and he and his family were moved into concentration camps. Separated from his mother and sister, it was not long after that he and his father were moved to Auschwitz and Buchenwald, some of the most infamous concentration camps of the war. Wiesel’s treatise is, in a word, harrowing. His short, direct manner of writing (perhaps due in part to the translation) gives a stark portrait of some of the greatest evil known to mankind. Night is an exceedingly difficult book to read and, despite being barely more than 100 pages, was one that I found I could only consume in short bursts. However, it is one of the most necessary books that I have ever had the opportunity to encounter and it is imperative that we continue to read this story and hold this terror close to our hearts.

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