Four Brilliant Novels to Read This Summer

Looking for something different to read but not sure of what? Here are four awesome, thought-provoking books that might just be up your alley.

1. Passing, by Nella Larsen. Passing tells the story of Irene and Clare, two light-skinned black women who, as friends during their childhood, were able to pull off “passing” as white girls so that they could enjoy the special privileges white people had during the 1920s. Irene, who married a black man, meets Clare once again in a hotel, only to find that Clare is still passing as a white woman and is married to a wealthy, yet bigoted, white man. Passing explores the social construct of race at the time and how it fits into a person’s entire identity.

2. Bread Givers, by Alice Kessler Harris. Bread Givers tells the story of Sarah, the youngest daughter of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, who lives on New York’s Lower East Side. Sarah, who has grown up in a very strict, traditional family, heads out on her own, despite her father’s wishes, to make a life and an identity of herself in America, all the while never forgetting the strength of her mother and her sisters, who have chosen to follow more traditional lives.

3. A Bag of Marbles, by Joseph Joffo. Joffo, who was Jewish, gives an account of his childhood in Nazi-occupied France. His father gave him and his younger brother Maurice fifty francs and urges them to flee Paris to Vichy France so that they escape the death camps. The boys are resourceful and avoid capture, but as soon as they are reunited with their family in Vichy, the war escalates, and they must do what they can to stay out of harm’s way.

4. Waterlily, by Ella Cara Deloria. Waterlily is the story of a young Lakota woman during the time of the waning Sioux independence on the Great Plains. Her mother and grandmother escaped the death of their family and were adopted by another family and become part of their kinship circles. The novel delves into the day-to-day life of nineteenth-century Lakota women, who encounter many of the same issues affecting women today.

Is there anything else to add to this list? Please feel free!


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