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Summer Reading 2016: Fiction

Find all of the Urban School book recommendations for summer 2016

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
Recommended by Kelli Yon, Visual Arts

At the Water's Edge is a love story that makes you cry in the end simply for the sadness that the book has ended!  It is a timepiece that is brilliantly written to inspire your imagination. It's complicated and profound in the the ways that love is. Sarah Gruen is most famous for her book Like Water for Elephants which also captivated my attention. It's a perfect light read for a summer escape.

This book will appeal to fans of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, and My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.

In previous years, Kelli has recommended River of Shadows by Rebecca Solnit (2010), The Help by Kathryn Stockett (2011), and Photography Changes Everything by by Marvin Heiferman and Merry Foresta (2013).

Claire of the Light Sea by Edwidge Danticat

Claire of the Light Sea by Edwidge Danticat
Recommended by Wendy Parkman, Performing Arts

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat, brings together the lives of the people who live in a small seaside town in Haiti, where a little girl, Claire, the daughter of a fisherman, has gone missing. It is a tapestry of stories of love and tragedy, painful and joyful, and the mysterious bonds that bring us together and separate us. Danticat writes with piercing restraint and clarity about the everyday dangers of life in the fictional town of Ville Rose. The novel goes forward and backwards in time, only hinting at larger political dangers. It is breathtaking, heart breaking, magical, and at the same time a compassionate social critique.

This book will appeal to fans of The Gangster We Are All Looking For by Thi Diem Thuy Le, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis.

This is Wendy's first summer reading list recommendation.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Recommended by Laura Hawkins, Math

This book is just excellent. It is a well-written young adult book with compelling characters that have major challenges in their lives and who confront them in mostly reasonable ways. It has humor and compassion, and I found the main characters relatable. I was so engaged that I *may* have let the babies play by themselves in the playpen a bit too long so that I could finish the chapter.

This book will appeal to fans of I'll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

In previous years, Laura has recommended Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2011), The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth (2014), and An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender (2015).

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
​Recommended by Library Leaders

A wild time! 9 year old Oskar Shell detangles the grief of losing his father in the September 11th attacks through a mysterious and urgent mission that takes him through the five (or six?!) boroughs of New York City. Do you like your sadness to also be adorable and funny!? This is the book for you. The movie was cheesy but the book is not. Also really cool pictures and book art. This book is art in every way. Read it.

This book will appeal to fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, and Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Recommended by Dan Matz, History

Family Life is not for the faint of heart.  It's a dark story about an Indian family that moves to the US only to suffer a tragic accident that leaves one of the sons with severe brain damage.  The prose is eloquent and moving, carefully crafted but unadorned.  Told from the younger brother's point of view, Sharma chronicles immigrant ambitions gone deeply awry, but there's comedy and love, too.

The book will appeal to fans of The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin, and My Name id Asher Lev by Chaim Potok.

In previous years, Dan has recommended Among the Thugs by Bill Buford (2010).

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Recommended by Greg Monfils, English & History

Terrible 100 page parable about the more insidious aspects of the 20th century while also allowing for a bit of hope. Yeah, that's a cheesy description, so how about this: "Gregor Samsa awoke from troubled dreams to find that he had been turned into a large insect." That's the first sentence. After that, Gregor's first concern is not his new buggedness, no. No, he's more concerned about getting to work on time.

This book will appeal to fans of The Plague by Albert Camus, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, and A Cloclwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

In previous years, Greg has recommended The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn (2008 & 2014), The Book of Luminous Things edited by Czesław Miłosz (2008), Directed by Desire by June Jordan (2009), Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas (2012), and The Tree by John Fowles (2013).

Sci-fi: Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Recommended by Laurie Williams, Learning Services

Apocalyptic anarchy reigns in California. Water is a rare commodity. Gated communities fall.  A female protagonist struggles to survive. And so she journeys north, a witness to violence and chaos, as she searches for safety - and peace.

This book will appeal to fans of Oryx and Cake by Margaret Atwood, The Windup Girl by Paulo Bacigalupi, and Animal Farm by George Orwell.

In previous years, Laurie has recommended The Last Season by Eric Blehm (2008), A Sense of Where You Are by Bill Bryson (2009), The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock L. Eide and Fernette F. Eide (2010), Open by Andre Agassi (2013), and My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (2014)

The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Recommended by Library Leaders

'For Milo everything’s a bore’, until he travels through a magical tollbooth that takes him to The Land Beyond. In this alternate universe Milo goes on many adventures with his part dog part clock companion named Tock. The Phantom Tollbooth was my favorite book growing up - maybe the best children's book in existence. Read (or reread) this book because this is the best crafted alternate universe!

This book will appeal to fans of The Percy Jackson series, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport

Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport
Recommended by Kate Randall, Visual Art Department Chair

Shark Dialogues is a beautiful book weaving together ancient Hawaiian myths with contemporary life as it follows the life and love stories of a Polynesian Hawaiian family. It begins in the centuries ago with the meeting of a sailor and a Tahitian runaway and evolves into a surreal tale of villains and dreamers, of "stone-eaters" and queens, of revolutionaries, and of lepers and healers. 

This book will appeal to fans of Gone with the Wind by, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, and The Bone People by Keri Hulme.

In previous years, Kate has recommended Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (2008), The Gangster We are All Looking For by Ti Diem Thuy Le (2009), Infinite City by Rebecca Solnit (2012), and The Poems of e.e. cummings (2015).

Dystopia: Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Recommended by Mary Murphy, Science

Shakespeare, a global flu pandemic, and post-apocalyptic survival...what more could you want in a book?! Moving back and forth in time, Mandel successfully weaves together the stories of her characters and their lives before and after the crisis. This is an absolute page turner. Pick it up and you won't put it down!

This book will appeal to fans of The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, and The Stand by Stephen King.

In previous years, Mary has recommended The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (2012), 11/22/63 by Stephen King (2013), and Annhililation by Jeff van der Meer (2015).