Half a Life by Darin Strauss

In his powerful, unforgettable memoir, Half a Life, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss recounts a tragedy and its aftermath. In the last month of his high school career, just after turning eighteen, Strauss is behind the wheel of his father’s Oldsmobile, driving with friends, having “thoughts of mini-golf, another thought of maybe just going to the beach.” Then out of the blue: a collision that results in the death of a bicycling classmate and that shadows the rest of his life. In haunting, penetrating prose, Darin Strauss explores loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.

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The Kids Are All Right by the Welch siblings

by Diana Welch and Liz Welch, co-authors with Amanda Welch and Dan Welch of The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir

Like many siblings, we disagree about a lot of things. We can’t remember who came up with the title The Kids Are All Right, but we do know that each of us had a completely different take on its meaning. Liz took it literally: All four of us turned out remarkably well, despite losing our parents when we were so young. Our father died in a car accident in 1982, and our mother succumbed to cancer in 1985. When we became orphans, our eldest sister Amanda was nineteen; Liz was sixteen; our brother Dan was fourteen; and Diana had just turned eight. Since no local family would take all of us in, we were separated, each sent to live in a different place. Our book, The Kids Are All Right, tells (in four different voices) how being separated was the most painful part of dealing with the loss of our parents. It also tells the story of how, after five years living apart, we found one another and became a family again. (more…)

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui

by Nicole Sprinkle, The Crown Publishing Group

I Am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced is a very special little book—as the title certainly alludes. Forced by her father to marry a man three times her senior at an age far below the legal one, this brave young Yemeni girl fled her new “home” with just a few coins in her pocket, and headed to the courthouse in the capital. Her mission: to petition for a divorce. With the help of a trailblazing female lawyer, she won—and her extraordinary case has raised awareness throughout the Middle East about antiquated customs and even helped change the law.

Her story is perfect for high school reading on so many levels. It’s written by Nujood herself—her voice is one of youth that teens will easily relate to. It’s also a book that introduces important and timely cultural and political issues in an accessible way. (more…)

American Widow by Alissa Torres; Illustrated by Sungyoon Choi

by Alissa Torres, author of American Widow

American Widow is the book I wrote because I couldn’t talk about my husband, Eddie Torres, dying at the World Trade Center.  I was mute as the whole world talked about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

In the earliest post-9/11 days, I filled spiral bound notebooks with repetitive outpourings and memories.  By January 2002, I wrote my first personal essay, one of many published on salon.com.  I crafted them late into the night while my infant son slept, documenting my surreal existence so close to the center of something so big and so sad.  By the summer of 2002, I started writing the script for American Widow, my graphic novel memoir.  It had to be a graphic novel because my story was one of pictures, the collision of two sets — those of the towers burning and those of my husband smiling. (more…)