Review: It’s Kind of a Funny Story

What it is: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini follows the story of Craig Gilner, a 15-year-old boy with depression. He goes to a highly competitive high school and finds himself struggling with schoolwork, friend conflicts, and an inability to sleep and eat. Suicidal, he checks himself into the psychiatric ward of the…

Review: Lost At Sea

What it is: Lost At Sea is a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley (of Scott Pilgrim fame) about a girl named Raleigh who goes on an unintentional post-graduation road trip and ends up discovering deep connections with three new friends and with herself. What I liked about it: Basically everything. I’m a sucker for a good road trip…

Review: We Need New Names

What it is: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo is a story about Darling, a young Zimbabwean girl who has the opportunity to leave behind her poor, corrupt country to try to make a new life in the USA. It’s a tale of growing up, but Darling also has to acclimate to a new culture while…

Review: Blues People

What it is: Blues People by Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones) details the history of blues, jazz, and other African-derived musical genres. He describes how culture and music affect each other, and the history of race relations in the United States via the interaction between African-influenced and European-influenced music. What I liked about it: Baraka does an excellent job of…

Review: I Am No One You Know

What it is: I Am No One You Know by Joyce Carol Oates is a collection of nineteen short stories surrounding the lives of women and girls encountering a whole range of human experiences from love to grief to danger. She reveals new understanding of humanity through mystery and intrigue. What I liked about it: If you’ve never…

Review: Fun Home

What it is: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel is a graphic memoir that examines Bechdel’s childhood, especially her relationship with her father and her discovery and exploration of her sexuality. Almost everything in the graphic memoir, from people in Bechdel’s life to to the literature she reads, seems to parallel elements of her personality, making…

Review: The Cleft

What it is: The Cleft by Doris Lessing is a novel about a Roman man who tells the story about the beginning of humanity, which consists of only women. They live communally and conceive babies through moonlight. Suddenly a baby boy is born, and eventually their society changes to establish, embrace, and struggle with gender roles. The…

Review: Cry No More

What it is: Cry No More by Linda Howard is a mystery/romance novel centered on Milla Edge, a woman whose six-week-old baby was violently torn from her in a Mexican open-air market. She dedicatedly spends the next ten years trying to find her son, Justin, which is both dangerous and difficult due to the smugglers’ conniving tricks…

Review: The Talk-Funny Girl

What it is:  The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo is a novel about Marjorie, a 17-year-old girl living in rural New Hampshire, and the challenges she faces growing up in a more or less abusive home where her parents keep her isolated and even use their own strange dialect of English. After getting a job as…

Review: Gang Leader for a Day

What it is:  Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh is an inside look at gang life in the Chicago housing projects, particularly the activity of the Black Kings at the Robert Taylor Homes during the early 1990s. Venkatesh spent years in and around the complex, collecting data and anecdotes for his graduate work in sociology. He…