A Light to My Path by Lynn Austin, 2004, Minnesota: Bethany House –
The third book in a series about the American Civil War, it focuses on two slaves in the South who have been separated from each other and their families. The writing style is subtle and personal with the author all but disappearing into the characters. The focus is on the faith of its main characters and its an excellent piece of Christian fiction. It also mixes the personal stories of different characters with a period of history that will never lose its importance and the ramifications of which can be seen in the news everyday. It’s really the kind of writing I would love to do.
“Praying ain’t about asking for your own way. It’s all about talking things over with God, just like you and me are talking things over. In the end, you have to be trusting the Lord to do what’s best.”
Are You Sure You’re Not a Racist? by Jodi Picoult, 2016, TIME (http://time.com/4544356/jodi-picoult-confronts-racism/) –
Privilege and covert racism are prominent issues that have featured in my education, university experience and the boundaries of my own writing. Picoult does not write this article in a proclamation of her graduation from closeted racist to ‘woke’ individual but rather to show her continuous changes and how she has learnt to write, not claiming to know the lives of others but for others like her to share her understanding. Not writing as though you know it all but sharing something you do know is a powerful motive for any writer. As it did for Picoult, this understanding can give you the courage and not the comfort to put words on a page.
“One of the many things I have learned is that the role of the white ally isn’t to be a savior or a fixer.”
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, 1956, London: Puffin Books –
Being one of the first books I ever read and loved, this tale follows a young Durrell going through changes and growing up in a disarmingly witty way. Durrell writes through the eyes of a child with great storytelling techniques and colorful language. The brilliantly constructed journey is warm and familiar even though it takes place in faraway Corfu. It is part nature exploration, part family comedy and part coming-of-age.
“Each day had a tranquility a timelessness about it so that you wished it would never end. But then the dark skin of the night would peel off and there would be a fresh day waiting for us ,glossy and colorful as a child’s transfer and with the same tinge of unreality.”
House Rules by Jodi Picoult, 2010, New York: Atria Books –
Jodi Picoult always does her research and it really sets this book apart from others. Her writing is engaging but not too personal or flowery. It is cleanly and cleverly done with the perspectives of the different characters seamlessly interwoven into a compelling mystery. There has been a lot of criticism about this book from people who don’t think Picoult gets it quite right but for anyone who does not know anything of the lived experience of someone on the Autism spectrum, it gets enough right.
“I personally subscribe to the belief that normal is just a setting on the dryer.”
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, 1999-2006, New York: HarperCollins-
Weird and wonderful. This oddball sequence of stories draws you into the world the author builds with writing that is intellectual and funny and fantastical. It breaks the rules of normalcy when it comes to storytelling. He teaches you the meaning of words, mocks the pretentiousness of authors and delivers a mystery that is deeply cool. Plus, it’s now a Netflix series that is pretty stupefying, a word which here means an amazing experience that takes me back to my childhood.
“Shyness is a curious thing, because, like quicksand, it can strike people at any time, and also, like quicksand, it usually makes its victims look down.”