Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

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It's been a while since I participated in Top Ten Tuesday, but when I previewed today's topic, I really couldn't resist. It's so interesting. So different! The Top Ten Books Dealing with Tough Subjects.

These are the books that make us squirm perhaps but that have many lessons to teach and many thoughts to provoke. They're also the books that we may appreciate but sometimes saying we "enjoyed" them feels wrong given the subject matter. I've learned a great deal from books like these throughout my reading life. Here are the top ten. Today, anyway.

There's a good chance you'll see a trend throughout many of the books I chose. Since the birth of my son, books that involve injustice, mistreatment, abuse, or hardships as they apply to children have become some of the hardest books for me to read.

Push by Sapphire - Abuse, neglect, poverty. The girl in this book endures it all but finds hope in school, learning, and her teachers who believe she can do more.

ROOM by Emma Donoghue - Held captive in a shed along with his mother, the narrator, Jack, broke my heart on several occasions, though the book does have a great ending.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - A young boy struggles to cope with the impending death of his mother. It made me do the ugly cry, but it was also a beautiful book in story and illustration.

The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanha - A Mauritian boy and a young captive from a WWII prison camp escape into the woods for a harrowing journey. A thin little book, a fast read, but nice writing and very affecting.

Sugar in My Bowl edited by Erica Jong - Sex is always one of those "tough" subjects. This collection of essays and stories made me laugh, cry, and cringe.

You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon - Dealing with the military life and deployment, this collection of stories runs the gamut from thoughtful and hopeful to stories of jealous and betrayal. I found the collection as a whole really hit me harder than I'd expected as I usually steer clear of books about military life.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch - In dealing with the grief of losing her sister, Sankovitch chronicles her year of reading one book per day. I know, I hardly believed it either! This one was sad and hopeful, all at the same time. Another trend in these "tough subject" books.

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman - Maybe the quickest read on the list, Stuck in Neutral is a young adult novel about a boy with severe cerebral palsy who cannot move voluntarily but whose mind is sharp and alive. His father, a prize-winning poet, may be thinking of killing him to "put him out of his misery." It really made me think about what we consider "disability" and what lies beyond it.

Sherry and Narcotics by Nina-Marie Gardner - Train wreck! But a well-written and involving train wreck. The heroine makes bad decisions, drinks too much, has a silly relationship, but I rooted for her the whole way.

Stiff by Mary Roach - Cadavers! It's gross, it's enlightening and instructional, and it's one of my favorite non-fiction, popular science books EVER! A great Mother's Day gift (yes, to my mom several years ago).

How do you define a "tough subject" and what are some worthwhile books in this vein? 

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