Last week with Top Ten Tuesdays we discussed the best light and fun books. Recall that it was really difficult for me. I did find some really nice suggestions on some blogs (there are light books out that that don’t feature love and bunnies! Who woulda thunk it?), but today we discuss books addressing tough subjects, and naturally this is more up my alley. I have learned that I need to learn to be a little more upbeat or risk scaring people away, but there is space in the world for serious matters. Here are my suggestions:
1. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
A story about a father and medical doctor who makes a split-second decision to send his newborn daughter with Trisomy 21 away to an institution without his wife’s knowledge. This book addresses discrimination against people with disabilities, and the wonder of being a good parent to a child with special needs. Another major theme is guilt and the impact it may (and does) have on relationships. It is a beautifully told story, a little heavy, a lot worth it.
2. A Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata
A blind girl growing up in poverty falls in love with a black man. Addresses racism, love across colour lines, and the difficulty of growing up disabled when your parents don’t know (or don’t care) how to help you.
3. Darkness Visible by William Styron
A very short read about depression and its effects on the individual and the family. A good look at the downward spiral and the (hopeful) recovery. I would suggest reading his wife’s essay on his depression, Strands (Rose Styron), as an accompaniment. It’s interesting to see what she includes from the account compared to his account.
4. The Radiation Sonnets by Jane Yolen
Yolen wrote a sonnet on every day of her husbands radiation therapy for brain cancer. The sonnets are intricately crafted, often witty, always touching. They address the idea of love in sickness and in health, the fear and sometimes yearning for death, and the reversal of roles as experienced when a partner is ill.
5. Babyshoes by Dawn Garisch
Looks at family relationships and what happens when children become the parents of children. And it is set in South Africa, which is awesome of course.
6. Hate List by Jennifer Brown
School shootings – they scare me, and I am really thankful that despite South Africa’s violence problem, school shootings are not at all common in our recent history (touch wood). This book handles the sensitive topic very well, especially since it is from the viewpoint of a girl who is to some extent guilty of the incident.
7. It’s Me, Anna by Elbie Lotter
A heart breaking true story of a girl molested by her stepdad and the bravery it required to get out of her situation. Definitely not a pretty read.
8. Luna by Julie Anne Peters
The story of a transvestite teenager and his only confidante.
9. Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers
This one made me cry – the story of a mother and daughter living past each other, as told by the notes they leave each other on the refrigerator door.
10. Run, Zan, Run by Catherine MacPhail
A girl who’s bullied and the girl who stands up for her. A terrifying and excellent book.