My nursing friends are gonna LOVE The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. In fact, I think most people would. Who is Henrietta Lacks anyway? Back in the 1950s a young black mother contracted ovarian cancer. The doctor who treated her took a sample of her cells which were strong and stable enough to be reproduced in mass. Those cells served to be foundational for much of modern medical research. The author of Henrietta Lacks combines the human story of the Lacks family with an easy to understand and fascinating history of the development of biomedical ethics. It was a excellent book leaving me thinking about things I had never before considered. (I love it when books do that to me!) *ecopy available through Overdrive*
This book was incredible! David Cullen researched what happened that terrible day at Columbine High School to answer the question: How could two teenage boys do such a thing? It's gut wrenching, fascinating and upsetting. Cullen did a great job of getting into the killers heads - sympathizing with them in an effort to understand their behaviors. (As fair warning: He quotes extensively from the boys journals - which as you can imagine, are liberal in their language). Cullen also examines the victims, their families, the community and the media in the aftermath of the tragedy. It was well researched, well written and really gets you thinking. I highly recommend this one. *ecopy available through Overdrive*
I so loved OK For Now by Gary Schmidt, that I decided to read The Wednesday Wars. Wednesday Wars is juvenile fiction that tells the challenges and victories of Holling, a young boy during the heart of the Vietnam War who lives in the same neighborhood as Doug, the main character from OK for Now. Holling's story shares the same humor, insight and inspiration as its companion novel. It was a great, easy and well written book. I admit that I preferred OK for Now, but I'm guessing I'd enjoy anything this guy wrote. He's an excellent author. *ecopy available through Overdrive*
My sister recommended Divergent, saying it was even better than Hunger Games. While I can't give quite that good of an endorsement, I did really, really like it. In a dystopic future society (yea, one of those again) young people have to choose which of several factions they will join. Each faction focuses on one specific trait: strength, truth, knowledge, etc. The book follows Tris as she struggles through the initiation process of her new faction and learns that things are quite what she thought. It's certainly a page turner and would make a great vacation type of read.
The second book in the Divergent series just came out. (There will eventually be three in the series). The factions are now at war with each other and Divergent personalities are being targeted. Tris struggles to figure out how to defend herself, other Divergents, as well as those who are being targeted by the power hungry leaders. It ends on a cliff hanger (which kinda bugs me) but otherwise, it's some nice mind candy.
This historical fiction follows Crispin, a young boy who is forced to navigate the Medieval world after being orphaned. It's youth fiction, so it's a quick and easy read. There are lots of good moral lessons and the reader does get a good taste of life during that time. I didn't love it, but I liked it enough.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn examines life for a poor Irish family living in Brooklyn in the early 19th century. Telling the story of both the parents and the children in this family, Smith has a smooth and lovely writing style. The book struck me as non-fiction (it's not) and I loved how both the tender and the harsh aspects of life were portrayed. It's a classic novel and I enjoyed it. *ecopy available through Overdrive*
Martha recommended this one on her blog, and I'm glad she did. This historical fiction takes a close look at the horrendous choices people are forced to make in wartime, and how those decisions shape and haunt the people once war is over. The story flashes back and forth between a newly reunited family living in post WWII England, and the separate war stories of the young Polish mother and the her solider husband. *ecopy available on Overdrive*
While most of these recent reads were really pretty great, I did NOT like The Power of Six. It's the second in the Lorien series, and I enjoyed the NYT Bestselling first book, I Am Number Four - which is why I picked up Six in the first place. Power of Six follows our hero and he hides out from both the law and the extraterrestrials set out to destroy him. It also introduces another of his fellow Loriens and her experiences fighting the bad guys in Spain. It was slow, it was waaaaayyyy too heavy on the science fiction (I'm not big on that genre), and I ended up skimming the book by the end - just to finish it. I should know better than to take book recommendations from my thirteen year old nephew who is obsessed with swords. Skip it.
Forge is the second book in another historical fiction trilogy that takes place during the Revolutionary War. This book follows Curzon, the young solder boy from Chains as he enlists in Washington's army the winter of Valley Forge. As an African American solider, things got complicated for Curzon, and to see this part of history through his eyes was really interesting. I liked Chains a lot more - Forge kinda dragged in the middle. But, I still liked it.
Favorites of this group? Columbine, Henrietta Lacks, and Divergent. (In that order). But truly, there were a lot of good ones. I've just started Cinderella Ate My Daughter, and am LOVING it so far. I'll let you know how it turns out!