Looking for something to read? Check out my 12 new favorites from April, May, and June of 2020. I have eclectic tastes, so you’re sure to find something that will become YOUR new favorite!
Picking Favorites Isn’t Easy!
I gave up picking a favorite book years ago. Instead, I have lots of favorites, and add to my list often. I’ll share my second quarter (April, May, and June) favorites with you today.
Own Voices Favorites
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Recorded Books, 2013, 610 pages or 17 hours and 30 minutes.
Young Adult +
Describing this book takes more space than this post allows. Trust me, you’ll want to listen to this one instead of simply reading it if you want the full experience. You can read my full review here.
As a middle-aged, paper-white, privileged Protestant, the book made me uncomfortable. But until we break out of the boxes of our upbringing, we’ll never have the empathy and understanding to reach out in love to our fellow human beings.
More of us need to make space for the uncomfortable and listen, really listen, to the reality of others. We need to read and listen to own-voices books and wave our flags less.
by James Bird, Feiwel & Friends, June 2020, 320 pages.
A half Ojibwe boy gets sent to the reservation to live with the mother he’s never met. While settling into his new life he discovers all he’s missed out on, including a different solution to a problem that has plagued him his entire life. You can find a full description and book review here.
Although written for middle-grade students, I would suggest reading it with your younger middle-grader. It deals with some tough topics that need discussion and processing. I’ll buy copies of this one for our school library and use it as a text with my high school students.
By Lauren Francis-Sharma, Atlantic Monthly Press, May 2020, 400 pages.
Young Adult +
A sweeping, multi-generational drama that proves we have more in common than we think we do but we make it difficult for each other when we refuse to acknowledge this truth. You’ll find a complete review of this complex book here.
Another tough, but necessary read. The lush prose, complex story lines, and underlying tension keep the reader invested in the outcome. Although set in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the reader will come to understand the term ‘systematic racism’ without the author ever using the term or intending to illustrate it.
By Yoeri Slegers, for 5-8 year-olds, Flyaway Books, 32 pages.
Infant to 99
Crocodile has a nice home and everything he needs until things start getting bad and he has to flee. No matter where he tries to go, someone doesn’t want him. Until finally, he finds a place. He learns to love his new place, even though everything is so different.
A beautiful book to open the conversation about immigration. Crocodile, with his big green body and scary (although not too scary) white teeth has a hard time getting accepted in safe places because he looks big and scary. But Crocodile has feelings and hopes, just like everyone else.
As an educator, I’ll use Crocodile’s Crossing to open a conversation about immigration, hosting, and colonialism with my high school history class. Parents will love the questions Crocodile’s Crossing brings up about fitting in and accepting others.
by Stacey Lee, G.P. Putnam’s and Sons Books for Young Readers, August 2019, 384 pages.
A half-Chinese teenager lives with an elderly relative in the basement of a newspaper in Atlanta, GA. The owners of the newspaper have no idea their shop has a basement or long-time residents.
In order to help save the newspaper, Jo Kuan starts an anonymous column, posing as ‘Miss Sweetie.’ Conversations by white people who ignore her existence inspire her writing, and the column instantly finds success. It may also undo her secretive and comfortable life.
The author brings up a question I’ve never thought of before. How did other minorities fare in the South post Civil War? I knew about how people in western states treated Chinese immigrants, but I never realized they faced racism everywhere.
Stacey Lee’s lyrical words and ways of seeing creates a vibrant heroine in Jo Kuan. The reader must face her suppositions and assumptions as Jo peels back layer after layer of her own personal history. I can’t wait to read other books by Lee.
In these turbulent times, the fact that I know so little about what other people have faced as they worked towards their American Dream makes me feel humble. Knowing helps to build empathy and understanding.
A Book for Everyone
Written and Illustrated by Denise Turu, Flyaway Books, Ages 3-99, April 2020, 40 pages.
Appropirate for all ages
Everything changes the day the phones go on strike. Babbit, a rabbit, tucks his beloved phone, Joan, into bed for a much-needed rest. He then strikes out through the neighborhood, never expecting to encounter adventure.
Along the way he makes new friends, learns new things, and experiences things he never thought possible.
A charming tale for all ages with a lifelong lesson—sometimes friends (or people and their phones) need breaks from each other. The whimsical illustrations have plenty of fodder for starting discussions with little ones (or older ones) about friendship, adventure, and technology.
By Michele Griep, Shilo Run Press, April 2020, 320 pages.
An escaped convict, a woman in hiding, and the mystery of who stole a valuable set of rubies converge on the lonely moors in this unforgettable book by Michele Griep. If you love history, mystery, suspense, and redemption, you’ll fall in love with this title.
Although not specifically written for young adults, I’d encourage mature teen girls to read the book. Faith-filled without ever sounding dogmatic or preacy, you’d feel comfortable lending this book to non-Christian and Christian friends alike.
By Abigail Wilson, Thomas Nelson, May 2020, 336 pages.
Elizabeth Cantrell has landed herself in a mess. Just when she thought she had found a way to provide for herself and her son with dignity, her plans get turned upside down—literally. A highwayman causes her coach to roll, and her injuries require that she spend the night in a nearby inn with Lord Torrington.
Lord Torrington offers a marriage of convenience to save Elizabeth’s last morsel of reputation. As a spy for the Crown, he hopes that their marriage will protect his cover and he’ll ferret out vital information from a French spy ring.
Neither one expects Middlecrest Abbey to turn into a hotspot of murder, intrigue, and broken hearts. Elizabeth must keep up the front of a newly-in-love bride while dealing with disgruntled dowagers, grown-up step-daughters, and a cantankerous housekeeper.
Each new danger makes her question both her choice to remain and all she thought she knew about her husband.
Another suspenseful book from one of my favorite authors, Abigail Wilson. While not targeted to the young adult market, I would recommend this book to older teens, especially ones who feel the weight of past mistakes.
By Tea Cooper, Thomas Nelson, June 2020, 330 pages.
This lush tale spans centuries and continents (England and Australia). The Australian author’s debut U.S. novel (Tea Cooper has multiple books published in her home country) will appeal to older teens and adults.
Readers might react with shock and outrage (along with the heroine) at the treatment of aboriginal peoples in the story. I applaud authors who don’t try to whitewash history, whether it’s the history of the United States or Austrailia.
You can find a compete review here.
By Jen Turano, Bethany House Publishers, May 2020, 363 pages.
I love Turano’s books, and this one doesn’t disappoint. The third in her American Heiress series, readers will love the sparks that fly when opposites attract.
They’ll also love the strong female heroine who struggles to find her voice and her calling in a world where women often had neither. Turano’s crisp style and sense of comedic will keep you in stitches. You can find a complete review here.
By Carrie Stuart Parks, Thomas Nelson, July 2020, 336 pages.
A divorced woman, a lost daughter, a man with a past, a perfect (dysfunctional) family, and an impending hurricane keep the reader on the edge of her seat.
Carrie Stuart Parks, one of my favorite masters of suspense, creates memorable characters full of flaws and foibles common to humankind. You’ll stay glued to the page (or your electronic device) wondering who did it, why, and how they’ll get caught.
Although firmly set in the inspirational category, I’d lend this book to an atheist or agnostic without any qualifiers. The author doesn’t make faith the third hero in the book (which often happens). You can read the full review here.
By Becky Wade, Bethany House Publishers, May 2020, 396 pages.
A man with a secret finds a woman with a secret sleeping in his guest cabin. Can they help each other out of the shadows of their pasts? While the covers of Becky Wade’s books make them appear like fluffy beach romances, don’t let them deceive you.
Wade’s romances pack a punch of inspirational truth, mystery, suspense, and of course, romance. All too often we put spiritual leaders on pedestals where they don’t belong. What happens when they fall or fail?
What about you? Did you read any new favorites in the past three months? I’d love to hear about them!