I first became aware of Walter Dean Myers when I was in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh and attended an event at which Mr. Myers spoke, co-sponsored by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Sunrise over Fallujah is a novel, yet, it too brings history to life for readers. Published in 2008 by Scholastic, it's intended for readers 12 years old and up; however, I found its themes of war, violence, and friendships under difficult circumstances make it entirely appropriate for adults as well. Mr. Myers' writing is excellent, and his characters and dialog are believable.
Mr. Myers spoke about his love of reading and how he tried to hide the fact that he was bringing books home from the public library by carrying them in a brown paper grocery bag. Author of more than 100 books for children and young adults, Mr. Myers is best known for his non-fiction, in which he brings history to life for young readers.
Walter Dean Myers. Sunrise over Fallujah. New York: Scholastic Press, 2008. Advance Reader's Copy. 281 pages. ISBN 9780439916240.
Lily King. Euphoria. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014. Uncorrected Proof. 253 pages. ISBN 9780802122551.
Oscar Hijuelos. Dark Dude. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing Division, 2008. Advance Readers' Copy/Uncorrected Proof. 435 pages. ISBN 9781416969457.
John O'Hara. The Instrument. New York: Random House, 1967. 308 pages.
Bich Minh Nguyen. Short Girls. New York: Penguin Books, 2009. 292 pages. ISBN 9780143117506.
State College AAUW book sale, and not being familiar with the author, I think it must have been the striking cover that caught my attention. Salma is a Bedouin Arab in Jordan who has sex out of wedlock and gets pregnant. Denied by her lover, she is taken away into protective custody to have the baby. Essentially, protective custody means prison, and it's necessary for Salma to protect her from an honor killing by her brother or father. Her daughter is taken away from her as soon as she's born, and Salma remains in prison for six more years before a nun arranges with the prison to take her away after a midnight release. She's spirited out of the country and eventually to England. Salma changes her name to Sally and lives an impoverished existence, first in a hostel and later renting a room from a drunken elderly woman. She gets a job as an assistant tailor and dreams of returning to get her daughter. The narrative goes back and forth among many time periods, from the time when she met her lover, to prison, to her early existence in England, to the present. As the characters and story develops it becomes clear how devastating life is for someone who loses her family, not to violence or death, but through ostracism and indifference. This sad story is all the worse for it being true to real life.
Fadia Faqir. The Cry of the Dove. New York: Black Cat, 2007. 282 pages. ISBN 9780802170408.