Featured Books and Lesson Plans

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  • Ever Is a Long Time Jacket Cover

    Ever Is a Long Time

    Ralph Eubanks

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Inspired by the 1998 declassification of files kept by the State Sovereignty Commission—an agency specifically created to maintain white supremacy—Ralph Eubanks embarks on an extraordinary pilgrimage to recapture the feel of growing up deep in rural Mississippi. Eubanks vividly evokes a time and place where even small steps across the Jim Crow line became a matter of life and death, and he offers eloquent testimony to a family’s grace against all odds. The result is a journey of discovery that leads Eubanks not only to surprising conclusions about his own family, but also to harrowing encounters with those involved in some of the era’s darkest activities.

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  • Aerogrammes Jacket Cover

    Aerogrammes

    Tania James

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    In their various locales--from London to the American Midwest to Sierra Leone--the men and women of these nine tales navigate unfamiliar worlds to sometimes comic, often heartbreaking effect.

    In “Lion and Panther in London,” a turn-of-the-century Indian wrestler arrives in London desperate to prove himself champion of the world, only to find the city mysteriously absent of challengers. In “Light & Luminous,” a gifted dance instructor falls victim to her own vanity when a student competition allows her a final encore.  In “The Scriptological Review: A Last Letter from the Editor,” a young man obsessively studies his father’s handwriting in hopes of making sense of his death. And in the marvelous “What to Do with Henry,” a white woman from Ohio takes in the illegitimate child her husband left behind in Sierra Leone, as well as an orphaned chimpanzee who comes to anchor this strange new family.

    With exuberance and compassion, Tania James once again draws us into the lives of damaged, driven, and beautifully complicated characters who quietly strive for human connection.

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  • The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller Jacket Cover

    The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller

    E. Ethelbert Miller

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    "Ethelbert's poetry enters us and sings. Like the biblical prophets, he inspires and challenges us, and gives voice to our deepest longing: to live with greater intensity and passion, and bring significance to our existence. He is one of the great voices of our day."

    -Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College

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  • A Student of Living Things Jacket Cover

    A Student of Living Things

    Susan Richards Shreve

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    In the moment it takes Claire Frayn to dig for her umbrella, her politically outspoken brother Steven is shot down next to her on the library steps of their DC college. Claire is determined to unravel the mystery of her brother’s murder. Searching for answers, she meets Victor, an enigmatic stranger who claims to know who killed Steven. Claire begins an unusual correspondence with the suspected assassin, but instead of uncovering the truth of her brother’s death, she finds herself drawn into a passionate love affair and an unexpected moral dilemma.

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  • How To Grow Up Like Me: The Ballou Story Project (Volume 1) Jacket Cover

    How To Grow Up Like Me: The Ballou Story Project (Volume 1)

    Shout Mouse Press

    Appropriate for Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

    "Your Story Is Your Strength." This is the mantra that emerged from a six-month writing project at Ballou High School in Washington, DC, in which eleven dedicated freshmen and six determined seniors told their stories of ambition and struggle in what came to be known as The Ballou Story Project. Together their poignant, powerful voices come together to tell a collective story of How To Grow Up Like Me, a kind of instruction manual for determination, grit, and daily acts of hope and courage.

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  • Wench Jacket Cover

    Wench

    Dolen Perkins-Valdez

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Situated in Ohio, a free territory before the Civil War, Tawawa House is an idyllic retreat for Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their enslaved black mistresses. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at the resort, building strong friendships over the years. But when Mawu, as fearless as she is assured, comes along and starts talking of running away, things change. To run is to leave everything behind, and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances; all while they bear witness to the end of an era.

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  • The Buddha in the Attic Jacket Cover

    The Buddha in the Attic

    Julie Otsuka

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    A gorgeous novel by the celebrated author of When the Emperor Was Divine that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago. In eight unforgettable sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the extraordinary lives of these women, from their arduous journeys by boat, to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; from their experiences raising children who would later reject their culture and language, to the deracinating arrival of war. Once again, Julie Otsuka has written a spellbinding novel about identity and loyalty, and what it means to be an American in uncertain times.

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  • Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars in Ten Years Jacket Cover

    Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars in Ten Years

    Ron Capps

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    For more than a decade, Ron Capps, serving as both a senior military intelligence officer and as a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. Department of State, was witness to war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. From government atrocities in Kosovo, to the brutal cruelties perpetrated in several conflicts in central Africa, the wars in both Aghanistan and Iraq, and culminating in genocide in Darfur, Ron acted as an intelligence collector and reporter but was diplomatically restrained from taking preventative action in these conflicts. The cumulative effect of these experiences, combined with the helplessness of his role as an observer, propelled him into a deep depression and a long bout with PTSD, which nearly caused him to take his own life.

    Seriously Not All Right is a memoir that provides a unique perspective of a professional military officer and diplomat who suffered (and continues to suffer) from PTSD. His story, and that of his recovery, is an inspiration and a sobering reminder of the cost of all wars.

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  • Lost in the City Jacket Cover

    Lost in the City

    Edward P. Jones

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    A magnificent collection of short fiction focusing on the lives of African-American men and women in Washington, DC, Lost in the City is the book that first brought author Edward P. Jones to national attention. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and numerous other honors for his novel The Known World, Jones made his literary debut with these powerful tales of ordinary people who live in the shadows in this metropolis of great monuments and rich history. Lost in the City received the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction and was a National Book Award Finalist.

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  • Halfway House Jacket Cover

    Halfway House

    Katharine Noel

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    One day, Angie Voorster—diligent student, all-star swimmer and ivy-league bound high school senior—dives to the bottom of a pool and stays there. In that moment, everything the Voorster family believes they know about each other changes. Katharine Noel’s extraordinary debut illuminates the fault lines in one family’s relationships, as well as the complex emotional ties that bind them together. With grace and precision rarely seen in a first novel, Noel guides her reader through a world where love is imperfect, and where longing for an imagined ideal can both destroy one family’s happiness and offer them redemption.

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  • A Year and a Day Jacket Cover

    A Year and a Day

    Leslie Pietrzyk

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    After her mother commits suicide, 15-year-old Alice and her older brother, Will, are left with their well-meaning but distracted great-aunt. Lonely and confused, Alice struggles to come to terms with her mother’s death—a situation made more complicated when she begins to hear her mother’s voice speaking to her. With each “conversation,” Alice learns more of her mother’s past. Becoming increasingly distanced from her friends and her brother, Alice begins to canvass the terrain of her new life with uncertainty and longing. Driven to understand her mother’s life and the reasons why she chose to end it, Alice looks for insight everywhere—a search that leads her on alternate paths and into unexpected relationships. As she works through her grief, Alice slowly gains insight into herself and those she loves, ultimately discovering that sometimes asking the question may be more important the finding the answers.

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  • Candor Jacket Cover

    Candor

    Pam Bachorz

    Appropriate for Grades 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

    Oscar Banks has everything under control. In a town where his father brainwashes everyone, he’s found a way to secretly fight the subliminal messages. He’s got them all fooled: Oscar’s the top student and the best-behaved teen in town. Nobody knows he’s made his own messages to deprogram his brain. Oscar has even found a way to get rich. For a hefty price, he helps new kids escape Candor, Florida before they’re transformed into cookie-cutter teens. But then Nia Silva moves to Candor, and Oscar’s carefully controlled world crumbles.

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  • Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film Jacket Cover

    Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film

    Alexandra Zapruder

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Abraham Zapruder didn't know when he ran home to grab his video camera on November 22, 1963 that this single spontaneous decision would change his family's life for generations to come. Originally intended as a home movie of President Kennedy's motorcade, Zapruder's film of the JFK assassination is now shown in every American history class, included in Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit questions, and referenced in novels and films. It is the most famous example of citizen journalism, a precursor to the iconic images of our time, such as the Challenger explosion, the Rodney King beating, and the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. But few know the complicated legacy of the film itself. 

    Now Abraham's granddaughter, Alexandra Zapruder, is ready to tell the complete story for the first time. With the help of the Zapruder family's exclusive records, memories, and documents, Zapruder tracks the film's torturous journey through history, all while American society undergoes its own transformation, and a new media-driven consumer culture challenges traditional ideas of privacy, ownership, journalism, and knowledge. 

    Part biography, part family history, and part historical narrative, Zapruder demonstrates how one man's unwitting moment in the spotlight shifted the way politics, culture, and media intersect, bringing about the larger social questions that define our age.

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  • Hole in My Life Jacket Cover

    Hole in My Life

    Jack Gantos

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer looking for adventure, cash for college tuition, and a way out of a dead-end job. For ten thousand dollars, he recklessly agreed to help sail a 60-foot yacht loaded with a ton of hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents caught up with them. For his part in the conspiracy, Gantos was sentenced to serve up to six years in prison. On the surface, the narrative tumbles from one crazed moment to the next as Gantos pieces together the story of his restless final year of high school, his short-lived career as a criminal, and his time in prison. But running just beneath the action is the story of how Gantos—once he was locked up in a small, yellow-walled cell—moved from wanting to be a writer to writing, and how dedicating himself more fully to the thing he most wanted to do helped him endure and ultimately overcome the worst experience of his life.

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  • The Fifth Inning Jacket Cover

    The Fifth Inning

    E. Ethelbert Miller

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    The author’s second memoir following Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer, this book finds poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller returning to baseball, the game of his youth, in order to find the metaphor that will provide the measurement of his life. Almost 60, he ponders whether his life can now be entered into the official record books as a success or failure. Written in short, journal-like entries, The Fifth Inning is one man’s examination of personal relationships, depression, love, and loss. It’s a box score filled with remembrance—a story of the individual alone on the pitching mound or in the batter’s box. It’s a combination of baseball and the blues.

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  • Breaking Her Fall Jacket Cover

    Breaking Her Fall

    Stephen Goodwin

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Just before eleven on an ordinary summer night in Washington, DC, Tucker Jones picks up the phone, expecting to hear that his teenage daughter, Kat, is back from the movies. But the caller is another parent, a man who tells Tucker that Kat was actually at a party—and makes a shocking allegation about what happened to her there. From that moment Breaking Her Fall sweeps irresistibly forward to its wrenching and redemptive conclusion. In a blind rage, Tucker races to the party to find Kat already departed, but his full-boil interrogation of the boys still present spills over into a confrontation—and ends with one of the boys crashing into a glass tabletop. In a second, his rage turns to remorse, and he soon finds himself under arrest. Tucker could easily lose his home and his business, but he is most concerned about losing his daughter.

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  • The Color of My Soul Jacket Cover

    The Color of My Soul

    Melanie Hatter

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    The Color of My Soul revolves around Kira Franklin, a black newspaper reporter in Southwest Virginia in 1993, who begins to question her own culture when she pursues a story on a local Cherokee community raising money to reclaim ancestral lands. The Harper family is part of a long line of Cherokee tribe leaders, and their knowledge and devotion to retaining their history make Kira long for a sense of place, a sense of self. But the history she knows about her own family, that her father fought and died in Vietnam, gets turned on its head when her mother announces that her father is not only alive and has come back to see her, but that he is white.

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  • What We’ve Lost is Nothing Jacket Cover

    What We’ve Lost is Nothing

    Rachel Louise Snyder

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Nestled on the edge of Chicago’s gritty west side, Oak Park is a suburb in flux. To the east, theaters and shops frame posh homes and buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. To the west lies a neighborhood still reeling from urban decline. Although the community’s Diversity Assurance program has curbed Chicago’s destructive racial housing practices over the past few decades, cultural integration has been tenuous at best.

    In the center of the community sits Ilios Lane, a pristine cul-de-sac dotted with quiet homes that bridge Oak Park’s extremes of wealth and poverty. On the first warm day in April, as Mary Elizabeth McPherson, a lifelong resident of Ilios Lane plays hooky from high school, a series of home invasions rock her neighborhood. Thrust into an uneasy alliance with the neighbors around them, the residents of Ilios Lane must take stock of the world they believed they lived in and the world many of them were attempting to create.

    Incisive and panoramic, What We’ve Lost Is Nothing weaves together an impressive cast of characters, whose lives collide in the wake of disaster. In this powerful fiction debut, Rachel Louise Snyder sheds light on the gray area where ideals confront reality.

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  • Here Lies Daniel Tate Jacket Cover

    Here Lies Daniel Tate

    Cristin Terrill

    Appropriate for Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

    A young, street-savvy runaway looking for a place to call home realized he might have conned his way into the wrong family in this fast-paced and thrilling novel from award-winning author Cristin Terrill.

    It seems too good to be true when Daniel Tate, missing since he was abducted from one of California’s most elite private enclaves at the age of ten, turns up on a snowy street in Vancouver six years later. At first too traumatized to speak, he is eventually able to tell the authorities who he is and is reunited with his overjoyed family. In time, they tell him, he’ll recover the memories he’s missing; all that matters is that they have him back.

    It’s perfect. A miracle. Except for one thing:

    That boy isn’t Daniel Tate.

    But he wants to be. A young con artist who’s been taking on false identities for years, this impostor has stumbled onto the scam of a lifetime. Daniel has everything he’s ever dreamed of—wealth, privilege, the chance to make a fresh start, and most importantly, a family that loves him. Now that he’s finally found a place to belong, he doesn’t question his luck.

    Until he realizes that maybe Daniel isn’t missing at all. Maybe someone knows what really happened to the boy he’s pretending to be…and if he can’t uncover the truth—he could be next the next Daniel Tate to disappear.

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  • Fun With Problems Jacket Cover

    Fun With Problems

    Robert Stone

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    In Fun with Problems, Robert Stone demonstrates once again that he is one of our greatest living writers. The stories in this new collection share the signature blend of longing, violence, and black humor with which Stone illuminates the dark corners of the human soul. Entire lives are laid bare with remarkable precision, in captivating prose: a screenwriter carries on a decades-long affair with a beautiful actress, whose descent into addiction he can neither turn from nor share; a bored husband picks up a mysterious woman only to find that his ego has led him woefully astray; a world-beating Silicon Valley executive receives an unwelcome guest at his mansion in the hills; a scuba dive takes uneasy newlyweds to a point of no return. Fun with Problems showcases Stone’s great gift: to pinpoint and make real the impulses—by turns violently coercive and quietly seductive—that cause us to conceal, reveal, and betray our truest selves.

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  • March Jacket Cover

    March

    Geraldine Brooks

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the American Civil War, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history. March emerges as an idealistic chaplain in the little known backwaters of a war that will test his faith in himself and in the Union cause as he learns that his side, too, is capable of acts of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near mortal illness, he must reassemble his shattered mind and body, and find a way to reconnect with a wife and daughters who have no idea of the ordeals he has been through.

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  • Radioactive!: How Irène Curie & Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World Jacket Cover

    Radioactive!: How Irène Curie & Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World

    Winifred Conkling

    Appropriate for Grades 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

    The fascinating, little-known story of how two brilliant female physicists’ groundbreaking discoveries led to the creation of the atomic bomb.

    In 1934, Irène Curie, working with her husband and fellow scientist, Frederic Joliot, made a discovery that would change the world: artificial radioactivity. This breakthrough allowed scientists to modify elements and create new ones by altering the structure of atoms. Curie shared a Nobel Prize with her husband for their work. But when she was nominated to the French Academy of Sciences, the academy denied her admission and voted to disqualify all women from membership. Four years later, Curie’s breakthrough led physicist Lise Meitner to a brilliant leap of understanding that unlocked the secret of nuclear fission. Meitner’s unique insight was critical to the revolution in science that led to nuclear energy and the race to build the atom bomb, yet her achievement was left unrecognized by the Nobel committee in favor of that of her male colleague.

    The story of two women breaking ground in a male-dominated field, scientists still largely unknown despite their crucial contributions to cutting-edge research, in a nonfiction narrative that reads with the suspense of a thriller. Photographs and sidebars illuminate and clarify the science in the book.

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  • They Call Me 299-359: Writings by the Incarcerated Youth of Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop Jacket Cover

    They Call Me 299-359: Writings by the Incarcerated Youth of Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop

    Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop

    Appropriate for Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

    In November of 2011, Free Minds was thrilled to announce the release of They Call Me 299-359: Writings by the Incarcerated Youth of Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, an anthology of essays and poems written, edited and compiled by incarcerated Free Minds members held both at the DC Jail and in federal facilities across the country. This literary journal is being used as a tool for violence prevention and healing in Free Minds’s youth violence prevention initiative “On the Same Page,” and is also taught as part of college curricula at several universities.

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  • Plum and Jaggers Jacket Cover

    Plum and Jaggers

    Susan Richards Shreve

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Haunted by the terrorist explosion that killed his parents and obsessively driven to protect his orphaned younger siblings—even if it means breaking the law—precocious, fiercely independent Sam discovers during a stint in a Washington, DC juvenile detention home that he has a gift as a writer of family comedy. So begins the dark, quirky Plum & Jaggers series of sketches about a family of children whose parents are never at home. The McWilliams family troupes rises from open-mike venues to small comedy clubs to a late night television slot, creating a stir—and unwittingly exposing the family to new dangers that cost Sam his resilient wit and threaten his sanity.

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  • Warm Springs Jacket Cover

    Warm Springs

    Susan Richards Shreve

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Just after her eleventh birthday, Susan Richards Shreve was sent to the sanitarium at Warm Springs, Georgia. The polio haven, famously founded by FDR, was “a perfect setting in time and place and strangeness for a hospital of crippled children.” During Shreve’s two year stay, the Salk vaccine would be discovered, ensuring that she would be among the last Americans to have suffered childhood polio. At Warm Springs, Shreve found herself in a community of similarly afflicted children, and for the first time she was one of the gang. Away from her fiercely protective mother, she became a feisty troublemaker and an outspoken ringleader. Shreve experienced first love with a thirteen-year-old boy in a wheelchair. She navigated rocky friendships, religious questions, and family tensions, and encountered healing of all kinds. Shreve’s memoir is both a fascinating historical record of that time and an intensely felt story of childhood.

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  • Salvaged Pages Jacket Cover

    Salvaged Pages

    Alexandra Zapruder

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    This stirring collection of diaries written by young people during the Holocaust reflects a vast and diverse range of experiences—some of the writers were refugees, others were hiding or passing as non-Jews, some were imprisoned in ghettos. The book offers the first comprehensive collection of such writings, with extensive excerpts from 15 diaries, ten of which have never before been translated and published in English. The diarists ranged in age from 12 to 22; some survived the Holocaust, but most perished. Taken together, their accounts of daily events and their often unexpected thoughts, ideas, and feelings serve to deepen and complicate our understanding of life during the Holocaust.

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  • Dusk Jacket Cover

    Dusk

    James Salter

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    First published nearly a quarter-century ago and one of the very few short-story collections to win the PEN/Faulkner Award, this is American fiction at its most vital—each narrative a masterpiece of sustained power and seemingly effortless literary grace. Two New York attorneys newly flush with wealth embark on a dissolute tour of Italy; an ambitious young screenwriter unexpectedly discovers the true meaning of art and glory; a rider, far off in the fields, is involved in an horrific accident—night is falling, and she must face her destiny alone. These stories confirm James Salter as one of the finest writers of our time.

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  • The Known World Jacket Cover

    The Known World

    Edward P. Jones

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    In one of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Edward P. Jones, two-time National Book Award finalist, tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can’t uphold the estate’s order and chaos ensues. In a daring and ambitious novel, Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all of its moral complexities.

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  • Swamplandia! Jacket Cover

    Swamplandia!

    Karen Russell

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality.

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  • The Frequency of Souls Jacket Cover

    The Frequency of Souls

    Mary Kay Zuravleff

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    George Mahoney suspects he is getting a little stale at redesigning refrigerators after 14 years in the same job. With the arrival of his new office mate, Niagara Spense, George is forced to re-evaluate everything in his life from love and family, to science itself. Obsessed by the six-feet-tall Niagara, the very foundations of George’s belief in facts and the physical world are shaken when she reveals that she is on an incredible quest for electrical evidence of life after death — “audible fossils” she calls them. As Niagara Spense seeks the dead, and George seeks her, everything becomes possible in a novel that makes engineering funny, and mixes the world of icemakers and butter softeners with the miraculous.

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  • Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self Jacket Cover

    Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

    Danielle Evans

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self offers a bold new perspective on the experience of being young and African-American or mixed-race in modern-day America. In each of her stories, Danielle Evans explores the non-white American experience with honesty, wisdom, and humor. They are striking in their emotional immediacy, based in a world where inequality is a reality, but the insecurities of young adulthood and tensions within family are often the more complicating factors.

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  • Breathing Room Jacket Cover

    Breathing Room

    Patricia Elam

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Photographer Norma Simmons-Greer has a loving husband, a lively young son, and an upper-middle-class lifestyle. Probation officer Moxie Dilliard is as dedicated to her ideals as she is to her talented teenage daughter, Zadi. Best friends after meeting in college, Norma and Moxie are each other’s reality check and reassurance. But suddenly the bond between them begins to unravel in unexpected ways. Anguished over the loss of her second child and her husband’s recent withdrawal, Norma takes refuge in a complex love affair that puts her at odds with Moxie — and with herself. Haunted by her beloved mother’s inspiring yet disturbing emotional legacy, Moxie struggles to understand her friend, while her own refusal to compromise threatens to shatter her relationship with Zadi. And a devastating crisis will challenge both women to face the hardest of truths.

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  • Passenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson’s Flight from Slavery Jacket Cover

    Passenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson’s Flight from Slavery

    Winifred Conkling

    Appropriate for Grades 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

    The page-turning, heart-wrenching true story of one young woman willing to risk her safety and even her life for a chance at freedom in the largest slave escape attempt in American history.

    In 1848, Emily Edmonson, thirteen, along with five siblings and seventy other enslaved people, boarded the Pearl in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., in a bid to reach freedom. Within a day, the schooner was captured, and the six Edmonsons were sent to New Orleans to be sold. Emily and Mary were saved from the even crueler conditions when the threat of yellow fever forced their return to Virginia. They were eventually ransomed with the help of their parents and abolitionists, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, who later used them as models for characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Both girls went to Oberlin College, where Mary died of tuberculosis. Emily graduated and became a teacher at the first school in Washington, D.C., dedicated to the education of African American girls and young women–an idea so controversial that even Frederick Douglass advised against it. Emily also worked on behalf of abolition for the rest of her life.

    Passenger on the Pearl illustrates a turbulent time in American history as seen through the daily lives of enslaved people; the often changing laws affecting them; the high cost of a failed attempt to reach liberty; the fate of all fourteen of the Edmonson children and their mother, Milly, whose goal to die a free woman shaped the lives of all her children; and the stories of the slave traders and abolitionists whose lives intersected with the Edmonsons’.

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  • District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, DC Jacket Cover

    District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, DC

    Matt Dembicki

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    From a rustic post-Revolutionary War settlement hugging the swampy banks of the the Potomac to today's politically charged metropolis, Washington, DC has been the backdrop for some of the nation's most important history. But there's way more to the capital than just stone monuments and political hustle and bustle. 

    District Comics tours some of DC's lesser-known moments, with stops along the way for a duel, a drink in the Senate speakeasy, a shoe-shine, and much more. Forty talented contributors share stories you otherwise might never hear, featuring some of the city's most captivating characters--from printers and police officers to pandas and punks. And, of course, a few politicians. 

    This is the unique history you usually only get from wrong turns, chance encounters, and conversations with locals--and it's more surprising and entertaining than anything you'll find in a textbook. 

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  • You Are One of Them Jacket Cover

    You Are One of Them

    Elliott Holt

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Sarah Zuckerman and Jennifer Jones are best friends in an upscale part of Washington, D.C., in the politically charged 1980s.  Sarah is the shy, wary product of an unhappy home: her father abandoned the family to return to his native England; her agoraphobic mother is obsessed with fears of nuclear war.  Jenny is an all-American girl who has seemingly perfect parents.  With Cold War rhetoric reaching a fever pitch in 1982, the ten-year-old girls write letters to Soviet premier Yuri Andropov asking for peace.  But only Jenny's letter receives a response, and Sarah is left behind when her friend accepts the Kremlin's invitation to visit the USSR and becomes an international media sensation.  The girls' icy relationship still hasn't thawed when Jenny and her parents die tragically in a plane crash in 1985.

    Ten years later, Sarah is about to graduate from college when she receives a mysterious letter from Moscow suggesting that Jenny's death might have been a hoax.  She sets off to the former Soviet Union in search of the truth, but the more she delves into her personal Cold War history, the harder it is to separate facts from propaganda.

    You Are One of Them is a taut, moving debut about the ways in which we define ourselves against others and the secrets we keep from those who are closest to us. In her insightful forensic of a mourned relationship, Holt illuminates the long lasting sting of abandonment and the measures we take to bring back those we have lost.

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  • School of Deaths Jacket Cover

    School of Deaths

    Christopher Mannino

    Appropriate for Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

    Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail. Scythes hungry for souls, Deaths who enslave a race of mysterious magicians, and echoes of an ancient war with Dragons. Caught in the middle of a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths, Suzie must uncover the reason she's been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.

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  • The Art of Fielding Jacket Cover

    The Art of Fielding

    Chad Harbach

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

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  • The Virgin Suicides Jacket Cover

    The Virgin Suicides

    Jeffrey Eugenides

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    First published in 1993, The Virgin Suicides announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters—beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys—commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family’s fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.

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  • Balm Jacket Cover

    Balm

    Dolen Perkins-Valdez

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life. Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others’ suffering, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift. Hemp arrives in this northern city Searching for his missing family. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him.

    In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest.

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  • Ocean State Jacket Cover

    Ocean State

    Jean McGarry

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Set in the author’s home state of Rhode Island, the stories of Ocean State roll over the reader like a wave. Family pleasures, marriage, the essential moments and mysteries of a seemingly ordinary world that break into magical territory before we can brace ourselves—Jean McGarry puts us in life’s rough seas.

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  • If You Come Softly Jacket Cover

    If You Come Softly

    Jacqueline Woodson

    Appropriate for Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

    Jeremiah feels good inside his own skin. That is, when he's in his own Brooklyn neighborhood. But now he's going to be attending a fancy prep school in Manhattan, and black teenage boys don't exactly fit in there. So it's a surprise when he meets Ellie the first week of school. In one frozen moment their eyes lock and after that they know they fit together -- even though she's Jewish and he's black. Their worlds are so different, but to them that's not what matters. Too bad the rest of the world has to get in their way. 

    Reviewers have called Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson's work "exceptional" (Publishers Weekly) and "wrenchingly honest" (School Library Journal), and have said "it offers a perspective on racism and elitism rarely found in fiction for this age group" (Publishers Weekly). In If You Come Softly, she delivers a powerful story of interracial love that leaves readers wondering "why" and "if only...."

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  • The House at the End of the Road Jacket Cover

    The House at the End of the Road

    Ralph Eubanks

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    In 1914, in defiance of his middle-class landowning family, a young white man named James Morgan Richardson married a light-skinned black woman named Edna Howell. Over their more than 20 years of marriage, they formed a strong family and built a house at the end of a winding sandy road in south Alabama, a place where their safety from the hostile world around them was assured and where they developed a unique racial and cultural identity. Jim and Edna Richardson were Ralph Eubanks’s grandparents.

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  • Mr. Timothy Jacket Cover

    Mr. Timothy

    Louis Bayard

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    It’s the Christmas season, and Mr. Timothy Cratchit, not the pious child the world thought he was, has just buried his father. He’s also struggling to bury his past as a cripple and shed his financial ties to his benevolent “Uncle” Ebenezer by losing himself in the thick of London’s underbelly. He boards at a brothel in exchange for teaching the mistress how to read and spends his nights dredging the Thames for dead bodies and the treasures in their pockets.

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  • Moonface Jacket Cover

    Moonface

    Angela Balcita

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    At the age of 18, Angela Balcita had reached a point in her life when her health could not keep up with her optimistic personality. After suffering kidney failure and after her body’s rejection of the kidney her brother donated to her, she was in desperate need of a transplant. Lucky for Angela, she had found the ultimate partner in crime: her boyfriend, Charlie. Although they had known each other for only a short period of time, Charlie offered Angela his kidney. The ensuing story is unforgettable, with readers following Angela and Charlie’s journey through preparations for their respective surgeries; the procedures themselves, difficult yet emotionally riveting; the process of recuperation through the relapses; and the eventual healing—both inside and out—that greets this undeniably powerful duo.

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  • You May See a Stranger: Stories Jacket Cover

    You May See a Stranger: Stories

    Paula Whyman

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Miranda Weber is a hot mess. In Paula Whyman’s debut collection of stories, we find her hoarding duct tape to ward off terrorists, stumbling into a drug run with a crackhead, and—frequently—enduring the bad behavior of men. A drivers’ education class pulsing with racial tension is the unexpected context of her sexual awakening. As she comes of age, and in the three decades that follow, the potential for violence always hovers nearby. She’s haunted by the fate of her disabled sister and—thanks to the crack cocaine epidemic of the ’80s, the wars in the Middle East, and sniper attacks—the threat of crime and terror in her hometown of Washington, D.C. Miranda can be lascivious, sardonic, and maddeningly self-destructive, but, no matter what befalls her, she never loses her sharp wit or powers of observation, which illuminate both her own life and her strange, unsettling times.

    Publication Date: May 31, 2016 

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  • Flying Home: Seven Stories of the Secret City Jacket Cover

    Flying Home: Seven Stories of the Secret City

    David Nicholson

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    The stories in Flying Home: Seven Stories of the Secret City,   are set in an imagined Washington neighborhood much like  Bloomingdale, the one I grew up in. While each story has different foreground characters, many of the stories share the same background characters.

    Most of the people in these stories are ordinary working men and women—maids, taxi drivers, janitors, barbers, and handymen. The second story, “Among the Righteous,” was the first I wrote on returning to Washington after a six-year sojourn in the Midwest. I'd been away long enough to be stunned at how much the city had changed and I wanted, I think, to write about people and lives that were being swept away.

    As Harper Lee put it about her hometown: “I believe there is something universal in this little world, something decent to be said for it, and something to lament in its passing.”

    The phrase “the secret city” comes from W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1932Crisis article, “The Secret City: An Impression of Colored Washington.” Much has changed since Du Bois wrote but, in many ways, black Washington remains a secret city, invisible to the whites who also inhabit it.

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  • Pears on a Willow Tree Jacket Cover

    Pears on a Willow Tree

    Leslie Pietrzyk

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    The Marchewka women are inseparable. They relish the joys of family gatherings; from preparing traditional holiday meals to organizing a wedding in which each of them is given a specific task—whether it’s sewing the bridal gown or preserving pickles as a gift to the newlyweds. Bound together by recipes, reminiscences and tangled relationships, these women are the foundation of a dignified, compassionate family—one that has learned to survive the hardships of emigration and assimilation in twentieth-century America. But as the century evolves so does each succeeding generation. As the older women keep a tight hold on the family traditions passed from mother to daughter, the younger women are dealing with more modern problems, wounds not easily healed by the advice of a local priest or a kind word from mother.

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  • The Day Tajon Got Shot Jacket Cover

    The Day Tajon Got Shot

    Shout Mouse Press

    Appropriate for Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

    Meet Tajon.

    Tajon is sixteen and black. He's tall and skinny, and he has dreadlocks. Tajon works hard and tries his best to be good. He does O.K. in school. He has plans. He's determined.

    Tajon is the kind of son who cares about his family. He's the kind of brother who stands up for his sister. He's the kind of kid who dreams big dreams to get himself and those he loves up and out of the hood.

    Tajon is the one who gets shot.

    Meet the Authors

    In March 2015, ten teen girls from Beacon House in Washington, DC started writing a novel during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. They began with one central question: What really happens in a community when a black youth is the victim of violence by police? How are those lives affected? Each writer takes on the perspective of a central character – the victim, the police officer, the witness, the parent, the friend, the officer's kids – and examines how it feels to be a human being on all sides of this event. Their stories thoughtfully explore issues of race, violence, loyalty, and justice in a community torn apart but seeking connection.

    The examples in the real world just keep coming -- Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray.  It’s happening. It’s complicated. One issue is the unnecessary use of force by police against anyone, of any gender or race or age. Another issue is the preponderance of such violence against one particular group: young black men. We ask: Why?

    We know this is a highly-charged issue, and our interest is not to fan the flames of anger or division. Rather we want to get beyond the #hashtags and explore the complexity of how it feels to be a human being on all sides of this event. We want to walk inside someone else’s shoes.

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  • Arcadia Jacket Cover

    Arcadia

    Lauren Groff

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    In the fields and forests of western New York State in the late 1960s, several dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what becomes a famous commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this lyrical, rollicking, tragic, and exquisite utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and beyond.

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  • Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother Jacket Cover

    Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother

    Barbara Morrison

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Growing up in a prosperous neighborhood, B. Morrison was taught that poverty was a product of laziness and public assistance programs only rewarded irresponsibility. However, when her marriage soured, she abruptly found herself an impoverished single mother. Disowned by her parents and facing destitution for herself and her two small sons, she was forced to accept the handout so disdained by her parents and their world: welfare. This dramatic memoir tells how one woman finds and grasps the lifeline that ultimately enables her to become independent.

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  • Cologne Jacket Cover

    Cologne

    Sarah Pleydell

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    London, l960: Renate von Hasselmann, a nineteen-year-old German au pair, arrives at Victoria Station prepared to meet her new charges, Caroline and Maggie Whitaker. Yet she is ill-prepared for their parents: the mother, Helen, knows more about Nazi Germany than Renate does, and the father, Jack, disarms Renate with his quicksilver charm. In Sarah Pleydell's debut novel Cologne, childhood and history collide, blurring the distinctions between victim and victor, ruin and redemption. With delicate humor, Pleydell presents a portrait of a family on the cusp of great social change, while reminding us that the traumas of war revisit the children of the peace.

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  • The Shape of Things to Come Jacket Cover

    The Shape of Things to Come

    Maud Casey

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    Isabelle, a woman in her thirties without any of the trappings of a grown-up life, has just been fired from her job at a San Francisco phone company. Returning to the midwestern suburb of her childhood, Standardsville, Illinois, she contends with her dating single mother, a neighbor who once appeared on The Honeymooners, and an ex-boyfriend. She also becomes a mystery shopper for a temp agency, posing as a variety of potential tenants for newly built suburban communities to access their exclusive services. Enchanted by the possibilities of disguise, Isabelle spins a web of lies that keeps the world at a distance until she unearths long-kept secrets that force her to rethink everything she thought she knew.

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  • Wisdom Teeth Jacket Cover

    Wisdom Teeth

    Derrick Weston Brown

    Appropriate for Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

    This debut poetry collection reveals the ongoing internal and external reconstruction of an artist’s life and environment, as told through a litany of forms and myriad voices. The poems represent the quintessence of urban DC life and redefine personal relationships, masculinity, race, and history. A readjustment of bite, humor, and perspective, this work channels everything from hip-hop and Toni Morrison to Snagglepuss and red giants to make way for a poetic eruption of wisdom.

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