Allison’s Favorite 2011 Reads (Part Two)

It’s time for part two, highlighting five of my favorite reads of 2011.

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Adult Scientific Nonfiction.

I am really fascinated by medical/scientific nonfiction books for some reason.  This book is a history or ‘biography’ of cancer. It is a fascinating history! I really loved that the author tied the history in with his own stories and experiences working as an oncologist to make it more readable.  Mukherjee has a wonderful way of making even the most technical details easy for the average reader to understand. I am so glad I read this book and I came away with a much greater awe for science and also for the mysterious and scary thing that is cancer.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. Ages 9-12. (I listened to the audiobook read by Lincoln Hoppe).

I really hope this book wins a Newbery! I think it totally deserves it. This book tells the story of 14-year-old  Doug Swieteck. He recently moved with his parents and brother to Marysville, New York. And he doesn’t like it. But with the help of a new friend, Lil Spicer and a book of Audubon prints Doug comes to love this new town as well as learn how to grow into the type of person he wants to be. There is a ton going on in this book but Gary Schmidt weaves it all together into a story that will have you crying and laughing and in the end, cheering.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Ages 10 and up.

This is a book that stays with you. This is a book that left me speechless. Conor is a young boy dealing with the fact that his mother has cancer. Dealing with the fact that his mother is dying. But it is also a book about hope, and about the power of stories in our lives. There is a monster who comes to visit Conor. The monster will tell Conor three stories, and then it will be Conor’s turn to tell his own story. The writing in this book is amazing, and so are the darkly beautiful illustrations. I will never forget this book.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai. Ages 9-12.

A story told in verse. A 10-year-old Vietnamese girl immigrating to the United States with her family after the Vietnam War. Ha relates her travels her new home and her difficulty adjusting to the new life and surroundings. I was so impressed with how well Lai is able to say with so few words through the voice of Ha and her poems. This is a moving book and one that is filled with hope.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. Adult Fiction. (I listened to the audiobook read by Grayce Wey).

This is another immigrant story, though a very different one. Kimberly Chang immigrates to the United States with her mother as a young girl from Hong Kong. They live in heartbreaking poverty as Kimberly’s mother works in a Chinatown clothing factory and Kimberly becomes a star pupil at school with her bright intelligence. They must work hard for everything they have, but Kimberly is determined to make a better life for herself and for her mother.

Also, I must add two more books: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray and Delirium by Lauren Oliver. They both receive honorable mention.