Last year I bought my 12-year-old niece a novel. My sister-in-law says that as far as books goes, my niece likes memoirs and history, like The Diary of Anne Frank. I ended up buying my niece something other than a book. But I wonder what would be a good book to buy my niece.
I presented this to the salesperson at Barnes and Noble as, "Suggest a book like the Diary... about a girl growing up in troubled circumstances. She suggested Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood. This does not seem a good answer to me. I haven't read Zailckas' book. From a review, I know she went to Syracuse University, and, for some reason, I think she may be a product of the Syracuse creative writing program. I have a vague impression that that program is quite good. The authors I associate with it write well about drunkenness and drugs.
I could always loan my niece a book from my collection. Perhaps my niece would like Eric Hobsbawm's The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991. I find the Russian names in Hope Against Hope confusing, even with the translator's or editor's appendix. Likewise, I think Antonio Gramsci's Letters from Prison is not understandable without quite a bit of knowledge of the historical setting. I seem to have mislaid my copy of Biko. I just bought The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood and will not lend that away until I have read it.
I've loaned my copy of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier to a young friend of mine. This was his choice in a selection I thought of after he told me about a somewhat autistic kid in his class: "He's even better at math than I am." I think I talked him out of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by trying to explain the concept of a unreliable narrator. I don't seem to be able to sell Life As We Know It: A Father, A Family, And An Exceptional Child, including to my sister, who has children and a degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
A salesperson at Borders suggested Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo. A librarian in Rome, NY, suggested Four Girls From Berlin: A Ture Story of a Friendship That Defied the Holocause and two novels: The Devil's Arithmetic and The Diary of Pelly D. Come to think of it, isn't the Speilberg film, The Empire of the Sun, based on a memoir?
Does anybody have any comments on any of the above books or any further suggestions?
7 months ago