While I love to read easy, comfortable books that you can just sort of escape to, I also love to read books that really get you thinking. I mentioned in part 1 that the this blog in my “Book Recommendations” series is going to cover different time periods, locations, and themes, but they all represent both nonfictional and realistic fictional stories about the world we live in. These books really provoke strong feelings from its’ readers and aren’t meant to be taken lightly .
These next books are strongly written and ones that I encourage everyone to read:
- A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Night by Elie Wiesel
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solider follows the true story of Beah as he experienced and had to commit unspeakable violence as a kidnapped boy solider and surviving the Rwandan Genocide. Just that description alone tells you the type of book it’s going to be. Your heart breaks for these kids who lost their innocence and their lives. Beah tells the story in a very raw and image provoking way, so if you are sensitive to violence and trigger language, this is not the book for you. I was incredibly moved and educated by this boy’s story and you can feel his strength and determination to make it out.
There is no better time to read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. In the wake and momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, where we call for police to be held accountable for their actions, this books follows the story of Starr, a young African American girl who witnesses her best friend be murdered by a police officer for the color of his skin. Although this is a fictional narrative, we see this story all to often nowadays. It follows Starr’s struggle to speak her truth and deal with the fallout of her actions and inactions. This book discusses violence, drugs, and the perpetual poverty and lack of opportunity that are rampant in many black communities. Although this book was made into a major motion picture in 2018, I strongly encourage everyone to read the book and stay informed on the racial injustices that plague many minority communities around the world.
Night by Elie Wiesel follows the true story of a young boy who recounts his experience of unspeakable horrors and violence during the Holocaust. No amount of emotional preparation can prepare you for this book. The absolutely evil things that man has committed upon each other continue to stun me. Reading this book was incredibly difficult mentally and emotionally and I can’t fathom experiencing this level of loss in real life. Weisel re-endures his story to remind us we must never forget the horrors the Holocaust brought onto the world, and honor the victims by never letting anything like this happen again.
I am a history teacher so I am very familiar with our world being built on violence, but there is no way to read these books with any type of detachment or in a clinical factual way. It is so important to stay educated on issues and historical events. We must not only remember that everyone deserves their right to life and equality, but actively work to ensure no one, no matter the race, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc. is being oppressed or treated with prejudice. Please continue to have difficult conversations with your friends and family and treat others the way you want to be treated. Sorry, this is not a super happy go lucky, comfortable blog post, but as important as it is for books to be an escape for us, they much also educate us.