The Deep End of the Ocean  
by J. Mitchard

Oprah’s first book-club selection told the story of a woman whose three-year-old son disappears while she checks into a Chicago hotel. This is a finely structured study of emotions under the extreme stress of long-term ambiguity and guilt.

Before and After
by R. Brown

In a matter of seconds, this story conveys what one couple’s life was like both “before and after” they learn their son has been charged with murder. A piercing analysis of family dynamics.

Song of Solomon
by T. Morrison

Her second choice: Nobel Prize winner Morrison’s most accessible novel concerns a young African American man in turmoil who sets out on a quest to find out his family’s secrets and discovers the riches in his roots.

House of the Spirits
by I. Allende

This is a look at the dramatic sweep of Latin American history through the context of one vibrant but troubled family.

The Salt Eaters
by T. Bambara

In lyrical, almost magical prose, this follows the denizens of a southern town as they seek the healing properties of salt.

Autobiography of My Mother
by J. Kincaid

This novel focuses on a black child whose search for the truth about a parent becomes a search for herself.

Palace Walk
by N. Mahfouz

This is a moving account by a Nobel winner of the emotional and physical struggles of three generations of a Cairo middle-class family in the first half of the twentieth century.

The Book of Ruth
by J. Hamilton

Ruth, her bitter mother and her spacey husband make up an unconventional family in which acrimony rules yet tenderness sometimes survives in very eccentric forms.

Mister Sandman
by B. Gowdy

Here is another startling, original take on the state of the nuclear family. Doris and Gordon have passed off their daughter’s illegitimate child Joan as their own, but that is just one of many secrets the Canary family is keeping.

Willy Slater’s Lane
by M. Wieland

The uneasy relationships among a group of quirky relatives are also the focus of this small gem of a book which offers a transcendent portrait of two eccentric, middle-aged brothers.

She’s Come Undone
by W. Lamb

The story of Dolores Price is one of almost unremitting hardship and tragedy – desertion, divorces, madness, rape, disease – yet while Dolores is certainly undone she is never done in.

Bastard Out of Carolina
by D. Allison

Ruth Anne is a study in courageousness as she deals with poverty and the sexual abuse of her stepfather. A recent film was based on this novel.

Weetzie Bat
by F. Block

This gentle, punky love story features a cast of embattled teens with a sturdy ability to withstand various slings and arrows.

Stones from the River
by U. Hegi

Dwarf librarian Trudi chronicles the lives of the residents of rural Burgdorf, Germany from World War I to the early l950s.

The Tin Drum
by G. Grass

This also features a dwarf protagonist who endures the horrors of the Nazi era.

Floating in My Mother’s Palm
by U. Hegi

These interconnected vignettes written six years before Stones from the River, take place at about the point where the later novel ends.

The Berlin Stories
by C. Isherwood

A cycle of keen-edged but ironically elegiac stories about Germany on the brink of the Nazi abyss, focusing on a series of colorful characters no one would readily call heroes.

The Rapture of Caanan
by S. Reynolds

For 14 year-old Ninah, growing up in a strict religious community meant receiving harsh punishments for unintended acts and enjoying few pleasures. This is a devastating portrayal of organized religion as illogical, intolerant, and cruel.

Joy School
by E. Berg

Genuine feelings of excitement and self-doubt beset young Katie when she is infatuated with an older married man who won’t take advantage of her.

The Saskiad
by B. Hall

This explores the tyrannical nature of a commune’s guru-cult leader and the destructive role he played when the commune was in its heyday.

Saving Grace
by L. Smith

Florida Grace’s charismatic father is an itinerant, serpent-handling preacher and she harbors a secret hatred of Jesus. Smith sweeps readers in with her fascinating portrayal of a bizarre, arcane religious cult with mesmerizing religious ecstasy.

Songs in Ordinary Time
by M. Morris

Capturing small-town life circa 1960, this depicts the ramshackle Fermoyle household, ruled by overworked, cantankerous single mom Marie, during the summer the family was set upon by an unctuous con man named Omar.

Before Women Had Wings
by C. Fowler

Glory Marie gave her daughters birds’ names in the hope that they could elude sorrow, but it is her own rage that imprisons them.

The Properties of Water
by A. Hood

Set in a small, toxic factory town in RI, this family drama revolves around Josie who is faced with one crisis after another.

Rima in the Weeds
by D. McNamer

This novel of small town Montana in the l960’s focuses on Dorrie (an unmarried mother in despair), Gloria (who can’t leave) and Margaret (feels the constraints of home and longs for love).

The Longings of Women
by M. Piercy

This is a big, complex drama mirroring various aspects of family life, focusing on three households with three major problems.

Breath, Eyes, Memory
by E. Danticat

Raised in Haiti by her aunt, 12 year-old Sophie is being sent to live with her mother in New York City, a wrenching change. Not only is she torn in terms of love and loyalty, the shock of an alien and inhospitable culture is nearly overwhelming.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
by J. Alvarez

This graceful, witty and appealing novel recounts the experiences of the four Garcia sisters as they leave their Dominican Republic home in the early l960s for the U.S.A.

by J. Kincaid

Lucy is l9 when she leaves her West Indies home for life as an au pair in U.S.

A Lesson Before Dying
by E. Gaines

A black teacher in back-country LA in the l940’s is conscripted by his aunt to offer lessons in manhood to her friend’s godson, who is on death row for a crime he only witnessed. The teacher has troubles of his own being a black man in the South. As he instructs Jefferson in how to die, he teaches himself how to live.

Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine
by B. Campbell

Based loosely on the case of Emmet Till, the l4 year-old Chicagoan who was lynched in Mississippi in l955, this novel examines the effect of the murder on three generations of black and white families.


by A. French

Billy, a 10 year-old boy in late 1930’s Mississippi, ventures into the
white neighborhood and is attacked by a l5 year old girl. Billy
stabs the girl in retaliation and the reaction is like a match to kindling.

Time’s Witness

by M. Malone

The time is contemporary, the setting is Yuppified North Carolina,
and the focus is more on the white investigator than on the
wrongly convicted black man – offering a penetrating look
at the long-term effects of southern racism.

Ellen Foster
by K. Gibbons

In a winning, candid voice, spunky 11 year-old Ellen relates
the day to day experiences she encounters as a child in a
very troubled family and the small measure of peace she finds
when she is taken to a foster one.

Durable Goods

by E. Berg

12 year-old Katie and her older sister are now at the mercy
of their father since their gentle mother is dead of cancer.
Despite the downbeat theme, this is a tender, smart, and
perfectly constructed novel about youth’s capacity for love
and instinct for truth.

Dog People

by M. McInerney-Whiteford

Life is quickly becoming unbearable for 12 year-old Trisha
as her parent’s relationship grows volatile due to alcoholism
and gambling. This is a story of her struggle into adulthood in
the face of circumstances over which she has no control.

A Virtuous Woman
by K. Gibbons

Older, overweight Jack and vulnerable, sweet Ruby, sick
with cancer, describe their misfortunes and their great love
for each other. The result is a subtle, romantic, and evocative

East of the Mountains

by D. Guterson

Retired heart surgeon Ben is dying of colon cancer. His
beloved wife is already dead. Deciding to commit suicide,
his simple plan becomes sidetracked when life intervenes.

Breathing Lessons

by A. Tyler

Late middle-aged Maggie and Ira, en route to a friend’s
funeral, must struggle with the specter of loss. They do
this by restoring their love for each other.

Here on Earth

by A. Hoffman

March returns to her hometown with her teenage daughter
but without her husband and is quickly drawn back into
the obsessive world of an ex-beau. Once poor and angry,
he is now wealthy and bitter – determined to hold on to
the woman he desires.


by L. Alther

A New York photographer leaves her husband, children, and
friend to set up an idyllic new life in tranquil Vermon, but her
urban sophistication doesn’t prepare her for the dangerous
liaisons and unrequited passions that she discovers there.


by T. Morrison

America, immense and wild at heart, has always made the
dream of paradise seem possible, and it is this belief in utopia
in a world of conflicts great and small that Morrison explores
so daringly in this tentacled tale about an all-black OK town
from its inception after the Civil War on into the l970s.

Naming the New World
by C. Baker

A beautiful novel spanning several generations of an African
American family

Black and Blue

by A. Quindlen

Fran, a nurse, marries Bobby, a NYC cop, has a son and soon
finds herself trapped in a cycle of beatings, remorse, and more
violence. Seeking help, she and her son are rescued, given new
identities and sent to Florida, where the repercussions of their
suffering do not diminish!

The Woman Who Walked into Doors

by R. Doyle

This is a tragic tale of a women who endures the violence of her
husband for the sake of her children.

Maggy’s Child

by K. Robards

Lyle married Maggy and agreed to raise her unborn child as though
it were his own. Ten years later, she is anxious to escape his abuse
and tries to discover if her son’s father is able and willing to protect them.


by C. Bohjalian

Owing to inclement weather and the mother’s dire condition,
midwife Sybil decides to perform an emergency c-section. She
is subsequently charged with involuntary manslaughter and her
trial is recounted in meticulous detail by her teenage daughter.

Bringing Out the Dead

by J. Connelly

EMS medic Frank works the streets of Hell’s Kitchen at a fast
and furious pace. This novel offers a cast of strange but disarming
characters and a precisely detailed portrait of the work of saving lives.

Charms for the Easy Life

by K. Gibbons

As a midwife and healer, Kate flourishes; but her marriage
falters and soon she and her girl are alone. A quirky, clever tale
about three generations of headstrong Carolina women.

Hearts and Bones

by M. Lawrence

Midwife Hannah is respected for her skill but held at arms length
by many because of her independence. A striking, seamless first novel.

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

by P. Cleage

When she tests positive for HIV, Ave returns home to a small,
devastated town in Michigan after a fast life in Atlanta. It is the journey
of a woman who has to learn a new way to live for as long as she
may live.

Suspicious River

by L. Kasischke

Motel receptionist Leila becomes involved with Gary, who
alternately hits and sweet-talks her, ultimately becoming her pimp.
This page turner dissects the genesis of a destructive relationship.

The Promise of Rest

by R. Price

Hutch’s son, Wade, is dying of AIDS. Wade’s condition becomes
the catalyst for Hutch’s reconnection to life and love, reconciliation
and closure.

Rocking the Babies

by L. Raymond

In a neonatal intensive care unit, where over half are suffering from
drug addiction, two middle-aged black women work as volunteers.
As they rock, they gradually begin to share their stories and to forge a
complex, steadfast friendship

White Oleander

by J. Fitch

Astrid, the only child of Ingrid, a brilliant, obsessed poet, adores her
mother, but their private life together is shattered when Ingrid falls apart
over a lover. Distraught over the breakup, Ingrid murders the man and
is sentenced to life in prison while Astrid is placed in foster care.

Anywhere but Here

by M. Simpson

Wise child Ann is at the mercy of her mother’s strange whims. Mother
decides Ann can be a child TV star. This is an intelligent examination of
the age-old need to keep moving even at the risk of profound disorientation.

I Know This Much is True

by W. Lamb

Forty-year-old housepainter Dominick is facing many obstacles to happiness: he
doesn’t know who his real father is and his marriage is defunct. These pale in
comparison to the problem he has of dealing with his schizophrenic twin brother, Tim.

Independence Day

by R. Ford

In this tale of a divorced real estate salesman, Frank plans to take a healing
road trip with his troubled son to the Sports Hall of Fame. An accident
forces Frank to deal with the ambivalence and detachment that have
damaged all of his relationships.

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
by O. Hijuelos

The conflict between brothers is a major theme in this story of two
Cuban brothers who come to the U.S. to be stars.

Of Mice and Men

by J. Steinbeck

The unlikely duo of George and Lennie represent a sort of
brotherhood, as George the hardworking laborer and Lennie,
strong but mentally challenged, form a partnership.

Where the Heart Is

by B. Letts

Pregnant l7 year-old Novalee is abandoned by her boyfriend
in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart. Within hours, she has met
three people who will change her life. Over the next five years,
she transforms herself from a homeless, unwed teen to a successful,
happy member of the community. A heart-lifter!

The Bean Trees

by B. Kingsolver

Feisty Taylor Greer is determined to escape being barefoot and
pregnant, like her peers. Someone leaves an abused child in her
front car seat.

American Pie

by M. West

No strangers to tragedy, three sisters reunite and face their fears
and finally conquer them.


by M. Youmans

The reader goes back to a century before the Revolutionary War.
Catherwood and her baby go into the woods to visit neighbors but
get lost on their way.


by B. Lott

The year is l943 and a plainspoken Jewel and her husband have
made a good life for themselves and their children. Then the fifth
child is born with Down’s syndrome and life is never the same.

Family Pictures

by S. Miller

The Eberhardts seem to have it all – then a third child is born with
autism, altering the family picture for the next 40 years.


by S. Minot

65 year-old Ann is facing certain death from cancer. She drifts in her
memories and remembers a summer weekend 40 years ago when
she found and lost her one true love.

Roxanna Slade

by R. Price

Set in the south, this is about a woman much like Jewel. She is
a graduate of the school of hard knocks and a survivor.

The Reader

by B. Schlink

A l5 year-old boy in postwar Germany has an affair with an
older women. This is an astonishing story of love, sex, books,
power, and shame. The theme and plot are so tied together that
the reader rushes to know what happens next – and then is haunted
by guilt and responsibility.

Jump and Other Stories

by N. Gordimer

Set in contemporary S. Africa, this explores personal guilt and
shame in the lives of people under political repression.

The Pilot’s Wife

by A. Shreve

While grieving the death of her pilot husband, Katherine is
shocked to learn that the airline is targeting him as the suspect in
the bombing that brought down his plane. Forced to absorb startling
new information about him, she realizes that she did not really know
the man she was married to for l6 years.

In the Night Season

by R. Bausch

After Jack is killed in a freak bus accident, his wife and son must deal
with the fallout of the many secrets Jack kept. An unusual literary thriller.

A Bigamist’s Daughter

by A. McDermott

Young editor Elizabeth is haunted by the legacy of a bigamist. When
she receives a novel about a bigamist, she searches for the truth
behind her own father’s bigamy.


Daughter of Fortune
by I. Allende

This draws on two environments she knows – Chile and California.
Allende proves she has learned history well and her characters construct
a story of family conflict, romantic love, and true adventure.

Ahab’s Wife (The Star Gazer)

by S. Naslund

The wife of the captain of the Pequod in pursuit of Moby Dick
reflects controversies over slavery, women’s position and religion.

Sierra: A Novel of the California Gold Rush

by R.S. Wheeler

The two men featured in this rich tale help readers experience the
adventure of the gold rush and also feel its undertow; families left
behind and never seen again, love lost, fortunes not made.

Vinegar Hill
by A. M. Ansay

Ellen, her unemployed husband and two young children return to
live with her in-laws, a bitter and narrow minded couple. Ellen
triumphs over domestic and marital problems to grasp her emerging
sense of duty.

Remember Me

by L. Hendrie

Orphaned and destitute at age 16, stubborn Rose makes a place for
herself in a little New Mexico town. She tries to look after her only friend,
the ailing Birdie, while the sheriff tries to look after Rose.

The Notebook of Lost Things

by M. Staffel

In a small town in NY, a daughter and father mourn the death of mother
and wife – a woman of unusual fortitude. A lovely teenager tries to care
for her mentally unbalanced mother. Love unfolds and breeds compassion.

Tara Road

by M. Binchy

Two women, at low points in their lives, embark on an interesting mutual
experiment. They switch homes for the summer. While there, they find
themselves inhabiting each other’s lives. Learning about the other is
important but what they learn about themselves are the sum and substance
of this warm novel.

River, Cross My Heart
by B. Clarke

10 year-old Johnnie Mae is haunted by the memory of her sister Clara,
who drowned in the Potomac River at a point where the children had
been routinely warned against swimming. Five years older, Johnnie Mae
had always been charged with Clara’s care, so her death stirs up guilt and

Half a Heart

by R. Brown

In the early l960s, Miriam, white, Jewish, liberal, taught history at a black
college in Mississippi. She fell in love with a black professor and had a daughter
whom she was forced to give up. Eighteen years later, she and her daughter
attempt to get to know each other.

Make Believe: A Novel

by J. Scott

When a young biracial couple dies, two sets of grandparents battle over
custody of orphaned four year old Bo. Prejudice gives way to love.

A Map of the World
by J. Hamilton

Alice and Howard live on a dairy farm. They are somewhat eccentric
and proud of their self sufficiency. They are isolated from most of their
neighbors. A toddler in Alice’s care drowns and a patient accuses her of
sexual child abuse. Alice is arrested and her family must cope with her
absence and her trial.

The Sweet Hereafter

by R. Banks

14 school children are killed in a bus accident in a small town in Upstate
NY. As the story unfolds, we learn what happens to a town that loses its

A Boy in Winter

by M. Chernoff

Single mother, Nancy, has finally managed to buy a house in a Chicago
suburb for herself and 11 year-old son. Danny is thrilled until he meets
their new neighbors…and he is blamed for an accidental death.

Evening News

by M. Swick

9 year-old Teddy is playing next door while his mom reads a book and
his adored two year old sister Trina splashes happily in a wading pool.
Teddy’s friend hands him a gun and in an instant Trina is dead.

Mother of Pearl
by M. Haynes

Set in Petal, Mississippi, amid social and economic challenges of the Deep South
in l956, this phenomenal and completely captivating novel highlights basic
human longings and aspirations common to us all – love, community, identity,
and security. The story centers on the unusual circumstances that lead all the
characters to an unlikely connection.


by R. Gibbons

Reuben, half Choctaw and half white, loses his parents and is taken in by a
black women. He grows up strong but falls in love with the fair daughter of
a prominent lawyer. Nothing can dampen the fury their forbidden passion ignites.

Gap Creek
by R. Morgan

Following the deaths of her younger brother and father, l7 year-old Julie
takes one look at l8 year-old Richard and falls in love. The two move to
Gap Creek and must cope with a devastating flood and the death of their child.

I Am One of You Forever

by F. Chappell

Set in N. Carolina around the time of World War II, there are exquisite descriptions
of mountain farm life and gentle humor, activities of a farm family as observed
by young Jess who finds the adult world fascinating and mysterious.

Rosewood Casket

by S. McCrumb

Old man Stargill is dying and his four grown sons are called home to the small
mountain town they grew up in to say good-bye and carry out Dad’s dying wish.

Black Mountain

by L. Smith

In this beguiling novel, Crystal struggles to draw the line between the roles
chosen for her by others and her own desires.

Back Roads
by T. O’Dell

Harley, a l9 year-old living in the Pennsylvania backwoods, works two jobs to support
himself and three younger sisters. All were orphaned when their mother was
imprisoned for killing their abusive father. Harley’s account of the deterioration
of his family and his own slow motion meltdown is harrowing.

by L. Brown

In a world “bright with pain and liquor,” Gary, a hardworking and painfully
naïve teenager, crosses paths with Joe, a middle-aged redneck with soul.
This gritty novel has themes of love and redemption, hope and dignity, weakness
and strength.

The Wizard’s Tide

by F. Buechner

Teddy is 11 and his sister is 7 when the family fortunes hit bottom. Their
father is the ineffectual son of an ineffectual man and his get-rich-quick scheme
fails, leading to tragedy.

Purple America

by R. Moody

Melancholy alcoholic Hex has been summoned home by his invalid mother.
Over the course of an incendiary weekend, he works himself into a drunken
fever, confronts his stepfather, and disastrously attempts to fulfill his mother’s
request for help in killing herself.


Open House
by E. Berg

Samantha’s husband has left her and she must reconstruct a life for herself
and son. Her most pressing problem is money but her real work is this: in
order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her
own happiness. In order to know who she is, she has to remember the
person she used to be.

High Maintenance

by J. Belle

At age 26, Liv separates from her cheating husband and takes a rundown
place in Greenwich Village. Soon she is surrounded by wacky, eccentric
characters. She is not the poster girl for strong, independent women, but
her story is quite entertaining.

Back When We Were Grown Ups
by A. Tyler

A determinedly cheerful, plushly built and obliviously unfashionable
women in her early fifties, Rebecca wonders if perhaps she’s turned into
the wrong person. She has embarked on a season of discontent as the last
of the girls she raised gets set to marry. What would her life have been like
if she’d married her studious college boyfriend instead?

House of Sand and Fog
by A. Dubus III

Already reeling from her husband’s abrupt departure, Kathy is stunned when
a pair of sheriff’s deputies evicts her from her modest California bungalow.
Before she can straighten things out, Colonel Behrani, an exiled Iranian air
force officer forced to work menial jobs to support his family, snaps up her
house at a public auction. As Kathy fights to keep her home and Behrani holds
fast to his dream, Dubus animates a dramatic and ultimately tragic conflict
of profound cultural implication. Read-alikes not at AJPL: The Gun Runner’s
Daughter by Neil Gordon; The Universal Donor by Craig Nova; The Manikin
by Joanna Scott.

Poisonwood Bible
by B. Kingsolver

Nathan Price has brought his wife and four daughters to Kilanga without the full
blessing of their church, and they are utterly unprepared for the demanding realities
not only of African life but also of a country embroiled in a war for independence.
Nathan’s hubris is balanced by the courage, generosity, and resourcefulness of his
family as Kingsolver explores the fallout of a confounding collision of cultural races,
lifestyles, and faiths.

The Ventriloquist’s Tale
by P. Melville

Set in Guyana in 1919, Melville’s funny, sensuous, and sagacious novel engineers
a resounding clash between European Christianity and science and South American
nature-based spirituality and beliefs.

While I Was Gone
by S. Miller

Veterinarian Jo Becker has gracefully settled into middle age; she is happily married
to a man she deeply loves, and they are both devoted to their three children. Then
she comes face to face with an old commune buddy from Cambridge. What Eli
reveals about their past forces Jo into a moral crisis.


by J.A. Phillips

Kate tends to a new baby while serving as her dying mother’s caregiver. Adding
further stress to her life is her new marriage and her role as stepmother to her husband’s
children by a previous wife. The story explores the cycle of life.

The Bluest Eye
by T. Morrison

Set in Lorain, Ohio in l941, this sophisticated first novel focuses on an 11 year-old
black girl named Pecola who prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be
beautiful. In reality, she is spat upon, ridiculed, and ultimately impregnated by
her own father. A book heralded for its rich language and bold vision.

Betsey Brown

by N. Shange

At the beginning of the civil rights movement, there is much travail within young
Betsey’s family when, at the age of 13, she becomes the first black person to
attend the local all-white school and becomes a target for racial hatred and
prejudice. How the experience affects her is the focus of this poetic novel.

We Were the Mulvaneys
by J.C. Oates

This wrenching saga tells of roofing contractor Mike Mulvaney, his beautiful
and sensitive wife Corinne and their four children. The sweeping story offers
both a meticulously detailed and varied picture of family life and a succession
of dramatic set pieces, the majority of which are related to the event of 1976
when everything came apart.

Peace Like a River

by L. Enger

“We all hold history differently inside us” – when Reuben’s brother Davy shot
and killed two young men who were harassing the family, Reuben’s dad packs
up Reuben and his sister to follow the trail Davy has left in his flight from the law.

Icy Sparks
by G.H. Rubio

Easter, Kentucky, 1956, life is hard and sweet for 10 year-old Icy. Orphaned as
a baby but raised by adoring grandparents, she is a bright, curious child. Yet
something strange is happening that she’d like to keep hidden. Try as she might,
her secrets – those croaks, jerks, and spasms – keep slipping out. Her teachers
think she’s willful, her friends call her the “Frog Child,” but what she suffers from
is called Tourette’s syndrome.

Motherless Brooklyn

by J. Lethem

Lionel suffers from Tourette’s syndrome, which makes his quest to find the
murderer of his boss and mentor….unpredictable. Lionel’s description of the
investigation, complete with Tourette tics and observations, is a tour de force
of language.

The Giant’s House

by E. McCracken

At 25, acerbic librarian Peggy has resigned herself to a loveless spinsterhood
until she meets James, whose malfunctioning endocrine glands have turned him
at age 11 into an “over tall” boy. During the next ten years, James grows up
to become the tallest man in the world. Peggy discovers that love can appear
unexpectedly. A tender and eccentric romance.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

by C. McCullers

This classic novel about loneliness and the craving to love and communicate
with someone who is responsive to one’s secret being has at its center a deaf
mute, named John Singer. His friendships with an assortment of misfits intensify
his sense of the barrier between himself and the rest of the world.

Drowning Ruth
by C. Schwarz

Mandy has been nursing soldiers home from World War I, but she returns,
neurasthenic and tight-lipped to the family farm on a lake. Her sister Matilda’s
husband is off at war and Mandy fits into Mattie’s life with a fierce attachment
to her and to her baby daughter, Ruth. But as the story moves back and forth
in time, we learn that Mattie drowned in the lake one icy night and that Ruth
remembers, but Mandy denies her memories.

More Than You Know

by B. Gutcheon

This novel focuses on the nature of memory and the bitterness of family secrets.
In a small town on the coast of Maine, an old woman has decided to leave a
record of the passionate and anguished long-ago summer when she met Conary,
the town bad boy and love of her life. This spare and unforgettable novel bridges
two centuries and two intense love stories.

Eddie’s Bastard

by W. Kowalski

Through the tales of his ancestors, his own experiences and the unforgettable
characters who enhance and enliven his adolescence, Billy learns of bravery
and cowardice, of life and death, of the heart’s capacity for love and for unremitting
hatred, eventually grasping the meaning of family and history and their power to
shape destiny.


Cane River
by Lalita Tademy

Her own family’s history was four generations of strong-willed black women who
survived slavery, maintained strong family ties and left a legacy of faith and

Slaves in the Family

by Ed Ball

A recounting of the family histories of his plantation-owning ancestors and the
people they owned. A microcosm of America’s original sin of slavery, this is a
multi-level effort to understand it.

The Wind Done Gone

by Alice Randall

A telling of the racial underbelly of southern gentility. Cynara is Scarlett’s half-sister
and as such, reveals her jealousy, resentment, well guarded family secrets. These
slaves are clever manipulators with much more depth and texture of character
than M. Mitchell allowed them.

Stolen Lives: 20 Years in a Desert Jail
by M. Oufkir

King Hassan of Morocco’s wife and children were imprisoned for 20 years. This
is an extremely effective and graphic picture of what evil is like from the vantage
point of its most innocent victims.

My Forbidden Face: Growing Up under the Taliban

by L. Chekeba

She was 6 when the Taliban overran Kabul and began issuing edicts to women.
Latifa, Soraya and their mother suffered greatly. This is a moving firsthand account
with a real sense of immediacy.

Zoya’s Story: An Afghan Woman’s Battle for Freedom

by Zoya

After both parents were killed, Zoya took up her mother’s work in the
Revolutionary Assn. Of the Women of Afghanistan. This is a stirring memoir by an
uncompromisingly brave woman.

by T. Morrison

Authentic dialogue and superb characterization with subtle understatements
make this a story of the starkness of life – brilliantly delineating a strong friendship
and the myriad forces that destroy it.

Brothers and Sisters

by B. Campbell

From a masterful storyteller, two women struggle to cross the great racial divide
and become friends. A host of issues connected to race, culture, romance,
and finance make this a worthwhile book.

The Healing

by G. Jones

Harlan Jane relates her transition from granddaughter of beauticians in Louisville
to a job as a business manager for a brilliant and mercurial rock star and then to
her experiences as a faith healer. Her prose takes getting used to but it is worth the effort.

A Fine Balance
by R. Mistry

Middle-class Indian life in l970s is the subject of this skillful novel. There is a widow
who runs a cottage industry, uncle and nephew tailors, and a college student.

Desirable Daughters
by B. Mukherjee

Tara is the youngest of 3 beautiful sisters. She has left her husband and taken up
with an ex-biker. Hindu marriage, caste prejudice, spiritual matters and the dark
side of America’s striving Indian immigrant community are all part of the story.

The Death of Vishnu

by M. Suri

Set in Bombay, two Hindu families bicker in an apartment building, a Muslim
household is pitched into confusion and Vishnu, the drunk, sleeps peacefully to death.
This is a hugely entertaining tale.

The Corrections
by J. Franzen

Detailed, mind-expanding, complex and unhurried, the novel aligns the spectacular
dysfunctions of one family with the explosive malfunctions of society-at-large.
Comedic saga rendering family life on an epic scale.

Century’s Son

by R. Boswell

The suicide of a 12 year-old son puts a couple in 10 years of mourning.
Grandfather, who claims to be 100, then moves in with them, unleashes an anarchic
life force and brings the family alive again. This is a deeply resonant work that is
heartbreaking and life-affirming.

Living to Tell

by A. Nelson

This graceful, lushly detailed family portrait features insomniacs. These
bumbling heroes discover deep reserves of love and fortitude within themselves
and each other as they make the best of things beneath stormy Kansas skies.