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Book Profile: For the Growing Ones

December 20, 2023


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The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

Reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a notoriously enigmatic tale of survival, The End We Start From follows the ominously and virtually apocalyptic journey of a recent mother sustaining both her newborn child and her vaguely strained relationship with her husband amid the increasing danger and urgency of a faceless cataclysm: a flood overcoming the entirety of London. The entire population forced into frantic evacuation upon the untimely concern of the government, the essentially nameless characters venture across foreboding lands seeking refuge in the bustling undernourishment of shelter camps. Written with the atypical language of sincere detachment, Hunter navigates her narrative in a manner so particularly sparing I nearly mistook this novel for the uncluttered precision of poetry: segmenting the narrative into brief sections punctuated with unforgiving premonitions serving as foreshadowing of heightened disaster. The prose suffers from a slight thinness given the fact that readers are intentionally deprived of a sense of literary wholeness for its total lack of detail; however, in this absence of substance, Hunter writes an especially moving narrative with an incredible truth concerning the disagreeable—and often neglected—details of mothers caring solely for their children, and the unspoken bonds which form between women and families who suffer an equal estrangement. Microscopic in size and sparing in words, Hunter contributes both a mercilessly daring and an unforgivingly delicate debut.

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Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

I’ve been struggling with how to properly summarize my feelings for this memoir. Firstly, its sheer magnitude and truth is so great it feels not like a true recollection, but rather a fiction. Something that someone would wish to experience or romanticize in imagination rather than an actual happening, a true encounter with the kind and pure soul that was Morrie Schwartz. Comprehensively, this memoir follows the unanticipated rekindling of a relationship first founded as professor and student, as God and faithful worshipper in sincere need of guidance. Addressing sensitive topics such as marriage, the fear of aging, the permission to vividly express emotions, and the nearly torturous nature of a final farewell, this memoir is a raw and honest portrait of the optimism in illness, the aimless wandering of adulthood, the inevitable recapturing of an infallible affinity, and the reminders spoken from gentle mouths of the importance of perspective rather than circumstance, all provided in his final lectures by Morrie Schwartz, “a teacher to the last.”

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The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Admittedly, I had to put this novel down almost immediately after picking it up. The author spares no time and no expense: the gruesome details are stated bluntly first and foremost and can be incredibly triggering, as it was in my case. Returning to this novel within the hour, however, I was eased into the content by the unanticipated homeliness of the seventies: the cord telephones, the treehouse evenings, the deep night note-passing, the neighborly relation. This novel not over uncovers and realizes the seriousness—and also the animosity and the forever unknowingness—of suicide, but the teenage-boy infatuation watching with across-the-street eyes and enduring the insurmountable agony of untimely, unanswered death with questions and remembrance. Considering the readers are exposed almost immediately to the plight of the Lisbon sisters, there is no last-page anticipation but instead an extended attempt at a retrieval of answers, an acceptance of what could never be accounted for, and the healing of childhood’s misery. A calm, honest novel—a deeply imagined literary achievement—with an infallible earnestness which never wavers.

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Diva Five Alive: Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Julie Ann Gray, Marilyn McBride, Brenda J. Miller, Carolyn Gibert, and Evette Gibert

This memoir is a courageous tale of truth, struggle, and triumph co-authored by the five Gibert and McBride sisters. An honest reflection and inspiring representation of endurance, these women are bound not only by their births, but their faceless infidelities: familial dysfunction, sexual and substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental and physical illness. Through these intimate and exact letters shared between them, readers are entitled to the companionship displayed between the sisters: their faithfulness to religion despite all that should not have had to have been endured, their love and their laughter, and ultimately, their losses and their victories. This story was at times so entertaining to me it felt like a fiction rather than a biography—it is certainly a book to be devoured. Dr. Julie Ann Gray and her sisters have exceeded expectations regarding their literary genuineness, and not only proving the courage one can maintain to pen such a nakedly vulnerable story, but to live it indeed.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This novel highlights the indefinite need for social change regarding racial injustice in the world, particularly America, and is the essential Bible for any equality activist. This book is not an instruction manual on how to be anti-racist, but is a stunning and realistic story which unfolds the truths we often overlook as a society. The story is told, and Angie leaves the reader to make their own conclusion. That is the work of an amazing writer.

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Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein is largely comprised of the timeless concept of man’s morality, organic nature, and the contrasting themes of both prejudice and acceptance. Shelley’s tale begins of a young aspiring scientist equipped with his fatal boyish and adolescent obsession with the sciences of anatomy and resurrection, who ultimately conceives a previously unimaginable prospect: that of essentially raising the dead, or a human’s sculpture of sloppily stitched limbs, via the forces of electricity. Frankenstein’s unrelenting ambition to erect his creature and then his subsequent recoiling upon his own horror is a sequence which encourages readers to consider how both archaic and contemporary society's—for our society is ultimately the offspring of another—external and internal unquestioning predispositions did and continues to significantly wound and suffer characters, both fictional and not, in methods irreparable. Conducting a thorough analysis of this gothic literature, readers such as myself are granted observance into Shelley’s commentary on the destruction of innate human tendency, the despairing of playing with life, and its comprehensive universality today. Ultimately, Frankenstein is an acute illustration of what had been done wrong, and what we still, as a society, have time to make right: the rights and respect of the “other.”


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