In this last month of the year (and the last year of the decade!), it’s time for our annual list of favorite reads. Milton Public Library staff read these books in 2019.
“The Song of the Jade Lily” by Kirsty Manning (2019) – Adult Fiction
This powerful historical fiction book takes place in two different time periods. It goes back and forth between 1938 — when a Jewish family escapes to Shanghai as the Nazis invade Austria — and 2016 — as Alexandra searches for her mother’s roots, and struggles with what she learns about her mother and her grandmother’s past.
Both stories weave beautifully throughout the book, teaching you the role Shanghai played in World War II. In addition, you’ll learn about Chinese culture and customs. This is a wonderful book about friendship, love, family, and of power and resiliency.
“A Big Mooncake for Little Star” by Grace Lin (2018) – Picture Book
Grace Lin’s beautiful illustrations and gentle story of the phases of the moon is lovely.
“Harbor Me” by Jacqueline Woodson (2018) – Juvenile Fiction
This book is about six kids in middle school dealing with difficult issues. They find a safe place to help one another come to terms with what is going on in their lives. Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, which is co-sponsored by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and Every Child a Reader.
“From Broken Glass: My Story of Finding Hope in Hitler’s Death Camps to Inspire a New Generation” by Steve Ross, with Glenn Frank and Brian Wallace (2018) – Memoir
Ross, founder of the New England Holocaust Memorial, was a young boy when the Germans invaded Poland.
“Willa of the Wood” by Robert Beatty (2018) – Juvenile Fiction
“As forces of unfathomable destruction encroach on her forest home, Willa must decide who she truly is, facing deadly force with the warmest compassion, sinister corruption with trusted alliance, and finding a home for her longing heart.” – From Goodreads
“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens (2018) – Adult Fiction
I found this book quite riveting. I thought that the blending of the two timelines moved well. I loved that through sheer determination and perseverance main character Kya Clark overcame much of her history of being abandoned, abused, and neglected. You can disagree with whether a number of events could happen, but I didn’t feel that it took anything away from the great story the author was telling us.
“Becoming” by Michelle Obama (2018) – Memoir
Ms. Obama’s story of growing up in Chicago, pursuing her career, meeting and marrying Barak, becoming a political family, and living in the White House captivated me. I listened to the book on CD, which Michelle reads. I found the memoir a fascinating and often humorous look into the life of this First Family.
This edition of Book Bits, written by library director Susan Larson, was first published in the December 9, 2019, issue of the Milton Independent. It is reprinted here with permission.