Staff Picks

Staff Picks

Staff Picks

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Something bad happens during Cadence Eastman’s fifteenth summer on the family’s private island off Martha’s Vineyard when Cady, her cousins and their friend risk everything to break free from the Sinclair family pressures. Cady is kept off the island for a year and everything is different when she returns for her seventeenth summer. Who will help her remember why? Great Young Adult story about three generations of a wealthy New England family, sibling rivalries and teenage love. ~Barbara, HH

Hunger by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay, best known for her collections Bad Feminist and Difficult Women, turns her attention to her past with Hunger. Does the world need another memoir of abuse? Maybe so, if it is as beautifully written and brutally honest as this one.  Gay shrinks from nothing about what was done to her and what she has done to herself in response. Gay is the child of Haitian immigrants; her father, a civil engineer, was successful and their home life was loving. The kind of trauma that lasts a lifetime was doled out at age 12 by school “friends” whom Gay trusted. She has struggled since early adolescence with post-traumatic stress and massive weight gain (at her heaviest she weighed over 500 pounds.) She writes about the desperation she felt growing up and also examines the broader experiences and daily humiliations of being obese in our culture. In spite of her difficult past, Gay earned advanced degrees in Creative Writing and Rhetoric, and has written novels, essays and criticism. ~Mary, HH

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana

What was it really like to have experienced Hurricane Katrina?  It's Armani's tenth birthday coming up when the storm hits.  Her large, closely-knit family faces a challenge: What to do, how to survive, how to endure, who will live.  How can Armani take care of her younger sister when Mama goes off for help?  Who can Armani trust? Lamana created her story from first-hand experiences working with families during the aftermath of Katrina.  With well-drawn characters of emotional depth, spot-on dialogue reflecting the African-American experience, and graphic detail, this story gives us true-to-life glimpses of what really happened to so many people caught up in the floodwaters of living through one of the worst natural disasters in America.  This story has voice! ~Anna Marie, CCL

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

The customs and hardships of tea growers in the mountains of China in the 1940s is revealed in this captivating story of Li-Yan, the youngest daughter of an Ahka family.  Smart, but tested by Ahka law, Li-Yan is allowed to get an education, but becomes pregnant and must give her child away.  Li-Yan learns more about growing tea, finds her way to California, and eventually looks for the daughter that she abandoned.  Trusted friends are found to be untrustworthy, but Li-Yan is able to recover and continue her search.  This is an eye-opening story of a culture that is not easy to understand and is very different from what we are familiar with. ~Beverly, HH

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

This moving and eloquent memoir, written in both poetry and prose, stitches together the life stories of award-winning Native American author Sherman Alexie. Tales from his childhood on the Spokane Indian Reservation intertwine with accounts of his life today. Throughout the book, Alexie explores his turbulent relationship with his now-deceased mother, and tries to understand more about her life and his own. Alexie writes with humor, honesty, and depth, and his memoir will appeal to those who enjoy literary accounts of overcoming and living in the wake of hardship. Alexie is one of my favorite writers, and his memoir did not disappoint. ~Laura, CCL