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Clay Library: Spring Break Recommendations 2021

Middle School and Upper School Library at FCDS

              

" I loved the rich details and the way so many disparate elements interweave in ways the reader never imagines. It is a fantastic story with writing you savor." - PJ St. John

A blind French girl, Marie-Laure and a German boy, Werner, paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.  Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

"It's so timely and truly represents a wide range of people. And it's optimistic." - Tamara Harrington

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue.

In this book, James Clear gives advice and cites researched-based information about how developing good, small habits help lead to big changes and growth. I also appreciated that he included supplemental material through his website (that's free) to assist with the application of what he covers in the book. It was my first book of 2021 and it has been a great help to me. While it is probably targeted more as adult non-fiction, I think that it would be a great read for students in grades 8-12 as well. - Patrick Schell

James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

"Beautifully written memoir about dealing with cancer as a young person and then living after recovery. Not as depressing as it sounds!" - Catherine Keating

When Suleika Jaouad finally walked out of the cancer ward—after countless rounds of chemo, a clinical trial, and a bone marrow transplant for Leukemia—she was, according to the doctors, cured. But as she would soon learn, a cure is not where the work of healing ends; it’s where it begins. She had spent the past 1,500 days with a 35% survival rate in desperate pursuit of one goal—to survive. And now that she’d done so, she realized that she had no idea how to live.

"It is a beautiful and rich story steeped in history and fictional, but realistic twist to biblical tradition." -Jenny Stauffer

"AMAZING!!!!" - Ashleigh Pike

"Interesting historical fiction."  - Faculty

Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus's life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman's bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place and culture devised to silence her. 

"The amazing adventure and hard work the brilliant women of the World War II era took on in defense of their country." - Faculty

Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.

"Focuses on putting our learners first for a true learner-driven environment." - Happy Bell

Tells how a small school in Austin, Texas sparked a worldwide awakening of families, who believe every child deserves to find a calling that will change the world. Like all good tales, Courage to Grow has a surprise ending, a final lesson you won't want to miss about parenting, and the courage required to live life to its fullest.

"Interesting historical fiction" - Mamie Morton

Kline brilliantly recreates the beginnings of a new society in a beautiful and challenging land, telling the story of Australia from a fresh perspective, through the experiences of Evangeline, Hazel, and Mathinna. While life in Australia is punishing and often brutally unfair, it is also, for some, an opportunity: for redemption, for a new way of life, for unimagined freedom. Told in exquisite detail and incisive prose, The Exiles is a story of grace born from hardship, the unbreakable bonds of female friendships, and the unfettering of legacy.

"I really appreciated the voice of the protagonist - a 14 year-old Nigerian girl. Her life was very challenging but she was smart and hopeful. Great characters and story that painted a powerful picture of life in Nigeria." - Beth Mack

Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same.  Her spirited determination to find joy and hope in even the most difficult circumstances imaginable will “break your heart and then put it back together again”

"Fauvelle does a remarkable job of using what little source material we have on Medieval Africa, and expanding on what this actually tells us about the history of this continent. At the same time, he is careful to not overstep and make judgements and conclusions for which we lack evidence. As such, the book is a series of interesting vignettes for various places in time throughout the continent, which gives us the best glimpse we can have for a history which is mostly lost." - Nick Smith

From the birth of Islam in the seventh century to the voyages of European exploration in the fifteenth, Africa was at the center of a vibrant exchange of goods and ideas. It was an African golden age in which Ghâna, Nubia, and Zimbabwe became the crossroads of civilizations, and where African royals, thinkers, and artists played celebrated roles in an increasingly globalized world.

"Representation and acceptance told through fantasy - I wasn't sure how I felt about it when I read the blurb. It was a book club pick, and in the end I absolutely loved it and devoured it, and it left me wanting more." - Niki Vogler

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place―and realizing that family is yours. 

"Historical Account of Building the Biltmore House" - Barbara Scott

Before their marriage, the wealthy and bookish Vanderbilt had dedicated his life to creating a spectacular European-style estate on 125,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness. He summoned the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to tame the grounds, collaborated with celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to build a 175,000-square-foot chateau, filled it with priceless art and antiques, and erected a charming village beyond the gates. Newlywed Edith was now mistress of an estate nearly three times the size of Washington, DC and benefactress of the village and surrounding rural area. When fortunes shifted and changing times threatened her family, her home, and her community, it was up to Edith to save Biltmore—and secure the future of the region and her husband’s legacy.

"Hopeful, thoughtful, challenging, encouraging." - Elizabeth Ottenjohn

In The Life You Long For, Christy shows us how to let go of hustle and achievement and instead find our identity in the quiet center of God’s love. As we delight in being with Him, we are filled to overflowing with contentment and love that propel us into an entirely new way of being, one in which every act of service and every encounter with the people around us arise from a heart at rest.

" I adored this book on so many levels. Definitely worth your time!" - Ashleigh Pike

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets.

"A fascinating insight to the duality of relationships and the battle between the seen and unseen." - Stabler Cochrane

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

"WWII non-fiction at it's best! Not the newest book, but enjoyed reading it as a companion piece to the more recent book The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson, also set in Churchill's WWII." - Kelly Gould

Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were the greatest leaders of “the Greatest Generation.” In Franklin and Winston, Jon Meacham explores the fascinating relationship between the two men who piloted the free world to victory in World War II. It was a crucial friendship, and a unique one—a president and a prime minister spending enormous amounts of time together (113 days during the war) and exchanging nearly two thousand messages. Amid cocktails, cigarettes, and cigars, they met, often secretly, in places as far-flung as Washington, Hyde Park, Casablanca, and Teheran, talking to each other of war, politics, the burden of command, their health, their wives, and their children.

"The best book I've read in years. A real page-turner that sheds light on the little-studied problem of white poverty in the Rust Belt.... Lots of people have already read it, but if you haven't, you should. The movie version doesn't match up." - Tom Spivey

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

"Love a good memoir! Bonus, it's a series of short essays so it's easy to leave and pick up as time allows." - Kelly Gould

Mary Laura Philpott thought she’d cracked the code: Always be right, and you’ll always be happy.
But once she’d completed her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies—check!), she found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of overflowing calendars, grueling small talk, and sprawling traffic. She’d done everything “right” but still felt all wrong. What’s the worse failure, she wondered: smiling and staying the course, or blowing it all up and running away? And are those the only options?

"Beautifully written; first book I've read in a long time where the author's ending really suited my need for the characters I grew to adore." - Darcie Tevault

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever―and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

"Sharp satire that is hard to put down." - Ed McBride

It's the height of the Palm Beach charity ball season: for every disease or cause, there's a reason for the local luminaries to eat (minimally), drink (maximally), and be seen. But when a prominent high-society dowager suddenly vanishes during a swank gala, and is later found dead in a concrete grave, panic and chaos erupt. Irreverent, ingenious, and highly entertaining, Squeeze Me perfectly captures the absurdity of our times.

"The most powerful book I have read all year and a must for anyone who works with people." - Kelly Eisenbraun

Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. In our daily lives, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. We listen to opinions that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard. We see disagreement as a threat to our egos, rather than an opportunity to learn. We surround ourselves with people who agree with our conclusions, when we should be gravitating toward those who challenge our thought process. The result is that our beliefs get brittle long before our bones.

"A brilliant look at the history behind a dozen psychology terms we know and the unusual friendship behind the scenes." - Faculty

Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original papers that invented the field of behavioral economics. One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tversky’s extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. In The Undoing Project, Lewis shows how their Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.

"Christian Book - a guided journey that allows for journaling on how God is providing for you right now where you are in your own unique story. Also, Meredith McDaniel is a NC author living in Charlotte, NC." - Melanie Nance

Although our circumstances vary, we all ache with a longing for something more. We are born with dreams, and some of us even have detailed plans about how to make them happen. Yet we all come to a point in life when we realize that we are not in control. A loved one gets sick, a tragedy occurs, our plans backfire. What we may not realize is that even if we can't depend on our circumstances or even ourselves, there is One who will always provide what we need, just when we need it.

"An absolutely brilliant read." -Kelly Eisenbraun

John Lewis, who at age twenty-five marched in Selma, Alabama, and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, was a visionary and a man of faith. Drawing on decades of wide-ranging interviews with Lewis, Jon Meacham writes of how this great-grandson of a slave and son of an Alabama tenant farmer was inspired by the Bible and his teachers in nonviolence, Reverend James Lawson and Martin Luther King, Jr., to put his life on the line in the service of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” From an early age, Lewis learned that nonviolence was not only a tactic but a philosophy, a biblical imperative, and a transforming reality. At the age of four, Lewis, ambitious to become a minister, practiced by preaching to his family’s chickens. When his mother cooked one of the chickens, the boy refused to eat it—his first act, he wryly recalled, of nonviolent protest. Integral to Lewis’s commitment to bettering the nation was his faith in humanity and in God—and an unshakable belief in the power of hope. 

"Interesting historical fiction." -Mamie Morton

Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?

As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.

Heartbreaking and eye opening. - Kelly Eisenbraun

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it―the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.