The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. This was a slam-dunk for me. It is set in France – check. It is set during World War II – check. It deals with motherhood – check. It is well written – check.
My dad loaned me this historical fiction novel and I absolutely loved it. It is the story of sisters, mothers, fathers, survival, choices, war, love, and women. You get to read about the lives of two sisters and their experiences during WWII in France. They each make their own decisions about how to handle the occupation.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I picked this one up during one of my jobs in a middle school. To be honest, I grabbed it because I love Dante and thought it might take about his work. It didn’t really do that, but it was still a very good book. It is about two teenage boys who meet and become friends. It is a good coming of age story, and I would highly recommend it to teenage kids, especially boys or those who are interested in LGBT stories.
Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe. This was a book club book, and it was really good. I never would have read this if it hadn’t been for book club. It is an epistolary memoir from Nina’s time as a nanny for a creative, quirky family. I read it wondering if it had a point, but maybe that was the point. I laughed out loud in public while reading it. The characters are incredible and hilarious.
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. This was another reread. I love this book so much. I had Jesse read it, too. It’s such a lovely story of family and love and community. The main character is a spunky girl who lands in a mysterious and eclectic town during the Great Depression. It’s a Newberry winner, so there you go.
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Another favorite of mine. I have read this many, many times. It has it all – mystery, adventure, art history, strong female characters.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. My book club pick for December. I loved it. It’s another young adult novel, but I’d say it’s more for high school than middle school. It is a lovely story about twins and growing up. It’s unique because it’s told from both twins’ perspectives – but at different times. You hear Noah’s story from when the twins were 14, and you hear Jude’s story from when they were 17. A lot has happened in between, and the story unfolds through both of their narrations. There is art, love, coming of age, mystery, love, magical realism, ghosts, love, family, and love. One of my new favorites.