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Welcome to Books R Us, a recommended reading blog from InfoSoup librarians and users and home to A Year of Listening Dangerously, the 2014 InfoSoup Reading Challenge! Find a great book to read next, add your own reviews, and check out our book related resources such as NoveList and BookLetters.

coming of age

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Author: Markus Zusak

Our book club just read this young adult novel of war-time Nazi Germany.  Narrated by Death, it is a story of a youg girl who is fostered when her mother gives her up, her brother dies enroute to the new foster home, and the girl steals her first book.  Her foster father teaches her to read; the family hides a Jew; many tragic war-related events occur.  The girl survives all this. There are lots of interesting side stories of the townspeople.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Letter to My Daughter

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Author: George Bishop

On the night before her fifteenth birthday, Liz gets into a heated argument with her mother that ends with Liz running away from home. Laura, the anguished and guilt-ridden mother, is left sitting in their Baton Rouge home praying for Liz's quick and safe return. To pass the time, Laura decides to write her daughter a letter about her own troubled adolescence. In doing so, she hopes to give Liz insight that she does understand what she is going through. Laura's parents had her sent to a strict Catholic boarding school following her forbidden relationship with a boy from the wrong part of town. In the telling of her story, the reader is transported to a time when some things were different but others very much the same.

This is a great coming of age novel that women, both young and old, can relate to. It is an extremely fast read at less than 150 pages, but it will touch you for a very long time. Have a box of Kleenex nearby when you read this one - for a man, George Bishop captures the pain of being a teenage girl and a mother with astonishing accuracy. Well done!

Among Others

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Author: Jo Walton

Among Others recounts the mundane and magical events in the life of Mor, a young Welsh girl who lands in an English boarding school in the aftermath of a family tragedy. Mor is an avid fan of science fiction, and finds refuge and community through reading and libraries. Books and magic help Mor cope with the loss of her twin sister, connect with the father she never knew, and find her very own karass* in a sci-fi book club. It's a fantasy book about science fiction! Book references weave through the story as Mor's daily reading shapes her thoughts: Tolkien, Le Guin, Vonnegut, Zelazny...

Misfits, outcasts, bookworms and geeks will see themselves in Mor. "If you love books enough, books will love you back."

*karass - a group of people who, often unknowingly, are working together to do God's will. (from Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut)

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Author: Lesley Kagen

The third I've read by Lesley Kagen. This is filled with so many characters (and some of them similar) that it takes a while to catch on. The protagonists are twin girls--Shenandoah and Woody. Shenandoah is taking care of Woody since she has gone mute due to a trauma. Both girls are trying to sort out the death of their murder and the cruelness of their father. Even though the subject matter is tough, Kagen again manages to bring a lighthearted attitude to the topic by creating an atmosphere where the girls are on an adventure. Kagen's language play in this book is that the girls have a secret twin language--that is very cool. In this book I very much enjoyed the southern rural setting and the intertwining of race relations.

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Author: Lesley Kagen

Sally O'Malley, the protagonist in this book, is a girl blossoming into young adulthood. She is exuberant and funny and in her innocence is still taking many concepts literally. In the story, both the adults and the kids are being careful and watchful in their neighborhood because there is a serial killer in their midst who is killing girls who are the age of Sally O'Malley. The author sets a tone of summer, lightheartedness and a carefree time (late 50s). Because the author does this, the murderer/molester is not as frightening as he could be. The way that Sally deals with and wonders about adults reminded me a lot of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I loved this book and I loved the resolutions at the end of it.

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Author: Jennifer Niven

I loved this novel about a very young woman in Appalachia during the time that a highway is being built through the Appalachian mountains. This change is being implemented and accepted (or not) in many ways. Velva Jean falls in love and marries a charismatic preacher boy, Harley Bright, who suffers injuries in a train wreck and whose personality begins to change. He becomes very possessive and suppresses her longings to be and do more. Lucky for Velva, she has a cast of people in her life who encourage her to be herself and recognize her talents. They also encourage her to grab onto her dreams. Some of these people include her brother, Johnny Clay; a Woodcarver who lives high on the mountain; Butch, a blues singer. The predominant ways in which she gains freedom are by learning to drive and making a record(she has a great singing voice). The portrayal of how she goes about being true to herself and rejoicing in where she comes from mirrors the inner struggle that all of us have managed to cope with in one way or another. Very good!

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Author: David Wroblewski

Okay, I finished reading the book yesterday. I read it over the course of a week and absolutely loved the writing. There were so many great elements that I thought were leading somewhere? The ending left me completely empty and disenchanted. Did I miss something critical? I thought the ending was a total bummer. Now, I just read on line that this a tribute to Hamlet (duh)! It definitely ends up being a tragedy and I don't do well with them apparently. The writing was exquisite, however. Without giving anything away I adored the rain scene when Edgar is out in the rain and notices something. I also loved the scenes describing the spooky lady who owned the grocery store. Finally, the character of Henry was one of my favorites.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

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Author: David Wroblewski

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and often found myself slowing down to more carefully envision the exquisitely described settings. The characters felt real, especially my favorite, the family dog Almondine, and the conflicts, though often ambiguous, compelled me to keep reading. Like many readers, I was frustrated by the ending and reminded that I need to reread Hamlet. Nevertheless, I will be watching for Mr. Wroblewski's next novel.