David Margolick describes the lives of two girls in the famous photograph from Little Rock Central High School’s desegregation in 1957: a stoic African-American girl walking on the first day of school followed by a white girl, her face distorted as she screams racial epithets. Elizabeth and Hazel is a thought provoking and memorable exploration of how this experience affected their lives in attempts to reconcile the painful, traumatic experience within themselves and with each other.
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Addie Baum, The Boston Girl, recalls her life story to granddaughter Ava. Born in 1900 and saddled with a difficult mother, Addie must overcome poverty, gender roles, and lack of education. Author Anita Diamant has created a lovable character who peppers serious subjects with humorous asides and grandmotherly advice.
It’s 1976, the last day of school in Austin, Texas, the music is rocking, the keg is tapped, and Matthew McConaughey is “All right, all right, all right.” Join the party in Dazed and Confused, the coming of age cult comedy film written and directed by Boyhood’s Richard Linklater.
David Milch’s brilliant, confounding HBO series John From Cincinnati defies easy classification – the closest most come is “surf noir” – but ultimately, it’s about the same thing as his previous series (the all-time classic Deadwood): how strange and damaged people come together to form unlikely communities.
In the dark comedy The Skeleton Twins, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader play estranged twins that reunite after ten years. Wow, can they act! Wiig’s and Hader’s fabulous performances are absorbing, as we follow their heartbreaking journey to repair their lives and learn the key lies in their own relationship.
You don’t have to be a Democrat or a Republican to enjoy 41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush. This glimpse into a son’s love and admiration for his father shows a remarkable man who served in WWII, founded an oil company, and was a Congressman, United Nations Representative, Vice President, CIA Director and the 41st President of the USA.
Escape the winter chill and transport yourself to the South with a collection of short stories by Ellen Gilchrist. The critically acclaimed In the Land of Dreamy Dreams showcases her frank yet warm and lively writing style. Her daring, spirited female protagonists are sometimes flawed but always entertaining.
Sufjan Stevens made the gimmicky claim he would write an album for each of the fifty states, but only made two. Luckily, Come on Feel the Illinoise was one. The album includes an anthem to “Chicago,” but he mined the state for subjects from Jacksonville to Highland Park resulting in a lyrically interesting and musically rich trip through the Land of Lincoln.
History comes to life in this darkly haunting narrative of murder, rebellion, and aristocracy. Candace Fleming shares the story of the Romanov family and the lives of the Russian peasant class with the help of diary entries, letters, and photos. The Family Romanov is an intense look at the disparity between wealth and poverty and how this clash ended in violence and political change.
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is an achingly beautiful fairy tale retelling. Sorcha has lived an idyllic childhood in the Sevenwaters Kingdom until her mother dies, her father marries a cruel woman, and her brothers are turned into swans. Now alone, Sorcha begins the painful journey of trying to get back everything she lost.