GRADES 9, 10 &11 BOOKCLUB
Year at a glance
1860, Louisiana. After serving as mistress of Le Petit Cottage for more than six decades, Madame Sylvie Guilbert has decided, in spite of her family’s objections, to sit for a portrait.
While Madame plots her last hurrah, stories that span generations—from the big house to out in the fields—of routine horrors, secrets buried as deep as the family fortune, and the tangled bonds of descendants and enslaved, come to light to reveal a true portrait of the Guilberts.
They call themselves “Captains of the Sands,” a gang of orphans and runaways who live by their wits and daring in the torrid slums and sleazy back alleys of Bahia. Led by fifteen-year-old “Bullet,” the band—including a crafty liar named “Legless,” the intellectual “Professor,” and the sexually precocious “Cat”—pulls off heists and escapades against the right and privileged of Brazil. But when a public outcry demands the capture of the “little criminals,” the fate of these children becomes a poignant, intensely moving drama of love and freedom in a shackled land.
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.”
In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.
In 1850s Ireland a village is baffled by young Anna O’Donnell’s fast. The girl appears to be thriving after months without food, and the story of this “wonder” has reached fever pitch. Tourists flock to the O’Donnell family’s cabin, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensational story. Enter Lib, an English nurse trained by Florence Nightingale, who is hired to keep watch over Anna for two weeks to determine whether or not the girl is a fraud. As Anna deteriorates, Lib finds herself responsible not just for the care of a child, but for getting to the root of why the girl may actually be the victim of murder in slow motion.
Syria, 2003. A blooming romance leads to a tragic accident when Hussam’s father catches him acting on his feelings for his best friend, Wassim. In an instant, the course of their lives is changed forever.
Ten years later, Hussam and Wassim are still struggling to find peace and belonging. Sponsored as a refugee by a controlling older man, Hussam is living an openly gay life in Vancouver, where he attempts to quiet his demons with sex, drugs, and alcohol. Wassim is living on the streets of Damascus, having abandoned a wife and child and a charade he could no longer keep up. Taking shelter in a deserted villa, he unearths the previous owner’s buried secrets while reckoning with his own.
The past continues to reverberate through the present as Hussam and Wassim come face to face with heartache, history, drag queens, border guards, and ghosts both literal and figurative.
Under an engulfing blanket of snow, Craig and Raina fall in love at winter church camp, revealing to one another their struggles with faith and their dreams of escape. Over time though, their personal demons resurface and their relationship falls apart. It's a universal story, and Thompson's vibrant brushstrokes and unique page designs make the familiar heartbreaking all over again.
The Book Jackets will have the unique opportunity to workshop Aaron Rabinowitz's newest manuscript and share their thoughts directly with the author himself.
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. Sethe has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.