Friday, December 16, 2011

The Top Ten Absolute Must Reads of 2011



10. The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (@WesMoore1)

It was strictly a coincidence that I listened to The Other Wes Moore the same week I was reading Patches of Grey, but it turned out to be the perfect compliment to it.  Both books dealt with young men of color coming of age and, though one was a memoir and the other was fictional, I found myself comparing the characters in both.










9. Third Girl from the Left by Martha Southgate (@mesouthgate)

There comes a time in every woman's life when she realizes that her mother is human.  I mean, logically, you know that your mother is human, of course.  And to any other observer, it's extremely obvious.  But there's a point, as a daughter, when you realize that she's just as imperfect and capable of making mistakes as anyone else.  Martha Southgate's Third Girl From the Left beautifully exposes the flaws of three generations of women who are anything but perfect.  Disclaimer: Though this book wasn't written in 2011, I read it this year and it was just too perfect not to include.




8. Roseflower Creek by Jackie Lee Miles

At times The Lovely Bones, at other times Bastard Out of Carolina, Roseflower Creek is a sad and unforgettable story.  Set in the 1950s, it tells the tale of Lori Jean.  Abandoned by her birth father, she's being raised by her mother and an abusive stepfather.






 7. Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany (@AmyHatvany)

Admitting failure is never an easy thing to do.  And for a mother to admit that she's failed, it can be devastating. In Amy Hatvany's Best Kept Secret the reader is given a front row seat into what can happen when a parent falls apart.







6. Tiny Sunbirds,, Far Away by Christie Watson (@tinysunbird)

Told from the point of view of Blessing, who is twelve when we first meet her, Tiny Sunbirds is the story of a Nigerian family uprooted from their comfortable existence in Lagos when the mother catches the father cheating.








5. Patches of Grey by Roy L. Pickering, Jr. (@AuthorofPatches)

In a story that at times reminded me of Matty Rich's Straight Out of Brooklyn, Roy L. Pickering, Jr. deftly weaves a coming of age tale of Tony Johnson in Patches of Grey.  And while Pickering could have taken the easy way out and strictly focused on one main character, he takes the time to tell not only Tony's story, but that of his siblings and parents as well, each as fascinating as Tony's.





4. If Sons, Then Heirs by Lorene Cary (@LoreneCary)

It's impossible to read the latest from Lorene Cary and not reflect on your family's legacy.  Whether it be physical property or simply your family history, there are things passed down through the generations for which no monetary compensation will suffice. If Sons, Then Heirs touches on both of these.






3. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan 

In this reimagined, futuristic version of The Scarlet Letter, sinners don't wear a letter indicating their crime.  They wear the color on their skin.  The need to direct funds away from prisons and to law abiding citizens has led to the non-existence of prisons.  Through a process called chroming, criminals are color coded and microchipped, allowing anyone that passes them on the street to know what their crime is and allowing the government, and anyone with a computer, to track them at all times.  Yellows  serve short sentences for misdemeanors and Blues are child molesters.  Red is the color for murder.



2. This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park (@SamuelPark_)

Easily one of my favorite reads this year, This Burns My Heart is the moving story of Soo-Ja.  As a young lady in 1960 South Korea, she longed to move to Seoul and become a diplomat.  When her wealthy father forbids her to join the Foreign State Department, she plots, at her mother's suggestion, to marry an easily pliable man who will let her have her way.  But when you try to run game on someone, there's always a good chance that game is being run on you. And while Soo-Ja thinks she's using Min, she finds that she really is not the master of her fate, as she thought.



1. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (@tayari)

With the opening line, "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist," Tayari Jones skillfully pulls the reader into the world of two sisters: Dana and Chaurisse.  Told in first person by each of the sisters, Silver Sparrow is absolutely remarkable.






I hope you've enjoyed the year in reading as much as I have.  I'll be on hiatus from posting after today.  Look for new posts starting January 17.  Enjoy your holidays and have a Happy New Year.


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