Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer

March reading list

11 Comments

Last year I did a whole “Springtime in Paris” theme where I read books translated from a foreign language or set in a foreign country, etc., etc.

I loved it so much that I’m doing it again this year!

My list, with descriptions and pics from Goodreads (I’m loving on these covers):

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously – and at great risk – documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renée is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building’s tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence.

Then there’s Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.

Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma’s trust and to see through Renée’s timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr

Michelle LeBeau, the child of a white American father and a Japanese mother, lives with her grandparents in Deerhorn, Wisconsin–a small town that had been entirely white before her arrival. Rejected and bullied, Michelle spends her time reading, avoiding fights, and roaming the countryside with her dog Brett. She idolizes her grandfather, Charlie LeBeau, an expert hunter and former minor league baseball player who is one of the town’s most respected men. Charlie strongly disapproves of his son’s marriage to Michelle’s mother but dotes on his only grandchild.

This fragile peace is threatened when the expansion of the local clinic leads to the arrival of the Garretts, a young black couple from Chicago. The Garretts’ presence deeply upsets most of the residents of Deerhorn–when Mr. Garrett makes a controversial accusation against one of the town leaders, who is also Charlie LeBeau’s best friend.

In the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird, A River Runs Through It, and Snow Falling on Cedars, Revoyr’s new novel examines the effects of change on a small, isolated town, the strengths and limits of community, and the sometimes conflicting loyalties of family and justice. Set in the expansive countryside of Central Wisconsin, against the backdrop of Vietnam and the post-civil rights era, Wingshooters explores both connection and loss as well as the complex but enduring bonds of family.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship – and innocent love – that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice – words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

###

Has anyone read these?  Thoughts?  Suggestions on books for me to add to my list?

Advertisements

Author: Jennifer Pickrell

I write YA contemporary filled w/ romance, angst & family drama. Currently in the query trenches. My faves include: cats, snacks & green tea.

11 thoughts on “March reading list

  1. I’ve read HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, and I liked it. We’ll have to discuss once you’ve read it!

  2. Such a dazzling group of books for you to get through. The Elegance of the Hegehog sounds especially appealling. I hope you enjoy them all.

  3. I haven’t read any of those books though I heard great things about Between Shades of Gray.

  4. I read and enjoyed The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I found it dense, but the characters were enthralling. You’ll definitely care. Just have a dictionary close at hand. The author (or maybe translator) seemed determined to stump me and I love words!

    Looking forward to hearing what you think of your choices (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet has been in my TBR pile for awhile).

    Good luck and happy reading!

  5. Love this idea! I haven’t read any of these, but I’m particularly intrigued by BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY and HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET (such a great title!). Looking forward to reading your thoughts on all of these!

  6. I think it’s so much fun that you theme your reading each month. I am always just reading a mish-mash of random stuff.

    And I’ve been wanting to read THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG–the cover is very appealing, for some reason. I’d love to know what you thought of it!

  7. I’ve read all but Wingshooter. Now that I’ve read the description, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and read it myself. Between Shades of Gray is so beautiful, so important. I loved the story in Hotel and was never bored. I’ll be very, very curious to know what you think of Elegance of the Hedgehog. There are some beautiful moments in that book but I’ve got beef… 🙂

  8. I have the hedgehog on my shelf… But haven’t gotten to it yet. Will be interesting to see what you think of these!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s