Music

This collection brings together texts that explore the beauty and often redemptive power of music, from classical compositions in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus and Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, to gospel songs and spirituals in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun.

Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Identity: Race, Identity: Sexuality, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Music, African American Literature

After Tupac and D Foster, published in 2008, is Jacqueline Woodson’s fifth middle grade novel and her 24th book overall. It is a coming-of-age story of three African American girls who are best friends growing up in Queens, NY, in the 1990s. During this time, the cultural icon Tupac Shakur is shot, imprisoned, and ultimately killed in a second shooting. These events have a huge impact on the main characters as they grow up and... Read After Tupac and D Foster Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Mental Health, Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Realistic Fiction

A Heart in a Body in the World is a young adult novel by Deb Caletti, published in 2018. The novel is a work of contemporary realism and is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book.Plot SummaryThe novel follows the story of Annabelle Agnelli, a high school senior living with her mother Gina and her brother Malcolm in Seattle, Washington. Annabelle is a talented cross-country runner, a strong student, and popular at her school. One evening... Read A Heart in a Body in the World Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Society: NationTags Arts / Culture, History: U.S., African American Literature, Creative Nonfiction, Gender / Feminism, Music, Race / Racism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2024Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Identity: Race, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: The Past, Natural World: Flora/plants, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Romance, Harlem Renaissance

Publication year 1979Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Relationships: FathersTags Play: Historical, Classic Fiction, Music

Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus, which premiered at the London Royal National Theatre in 1979, presents a fictionalized history of the renowned composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart through the eyes of Antonio Salieri, a composer whose lackluster artistic legacy has been all but buried by time. The play begins on the eve of what Salieri, now an old man, believes will be the last day of his life. Salieri narrates and reenacts the story of his tumultuous... Read Amadeus Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Music, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction, History: Middle Eastern, Bullying, Children's Literature

Eleven-year-old Pakistani-American Amina Khokar lives in Milwaukee with her mother, father, and brother, Mustafa. At school, a Korean girl named Soojin Kim is her best friend. Amina is distressed when Soojin befriends Emily, a girl who has historically joined in on racially-motivated taunts against Soojin and Amina. The situation is complicated when Amina, Emily, and Soojin—along with the class oddball, Bradley—are assigned to the same group for an Oregon Trail project in their social studies... Read Amina's Voice Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music

Published in 2007, Animal’s People by Indra Sinha was the 2008 winner of the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and was shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. Based in the fictional town of Khaufpur, which means “village of terror,” it centers around the 1984 Bhopal industrial disaster and its aftereffects on the survivors. Told from the point of view of a 19-year-old Khaufpuri boy who was disfigured “that night,” the novel focuses on the West’s dehumanization... Read Animal's People Summary


Publication year 2024Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Femininity, Identity: Race, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Relationships: Family, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Relationships: FriendshipTags Race / Racism

Another Brooklyn is a 2016 novel by Jacqueline Woodson. After the narrator, August, returns home to care for her dying father, she runs into her former friend Sylvia. This encounter leads her to reflect on her childhood in Brooklyn in the 1970s and the way she coped with her mother’s death. The novel unfolds in fragments: each chapter moves between August’s girlhood memories and adult life as an ivy-league educated anthropologist who studies cultural rituals... Read Another Brooklyn Summary


Publication year 1959Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Fathers, Identity: GenderTags American Literature, African American Literature, Black Arts Movement

When Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun premiered in 1959, it was the first play by a black woman to open on Broadway, as well as the first play with a black director. The title comes from Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem,” which asks, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” The play tells the story of the Youngers, a family who lives together in a small... Read A Raisin in the Sun Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Natural World: Environment, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale / Folklore, Mystery / Crime Fiction

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags LGBTQ, Romance, Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Publication year 1768Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Classic Fiction

A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, a novel by Laurence Sterne first published in 1768, is the story of Reverend Mr. Yorick, who realizes one day that he has never been to France and wishes to compare it to Britain. After a heated argument with a friend, he packs lightly and sets sail the next day from Dover to Calais. En route, he eats and drinks in a tavern, where he meets a Franciscan... Read A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy Summary


Publication year 1947Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Southern Gothic, American Literature

A Streetcar Named Desire is one of Tennessee Williams's most famous plays. Published in 1947, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and has garnered numerous Tony and Olivier awards since its first production. Blanche Dubois arrives at the French Quarter of New Orleans to stay with her sister, Stella Kowalski. The sisters grew up wealthy on Belle Reve, a plantation in Laurel, Mississippi, and Blanche is immediately critical of what she sees as Stella’s rough... Read A Streetcar Named Desire Summary


Publication year 2010Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Psychological Fiction, Music, American Literature

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan tracks the passage of time in the lives of individuals in the rock music industry. The chapters defy conventional temporal and narrative chronologies, and each one is a self-contained episode in an unfolding network of stories, spanning six decades from the 1970s to the 2020s. The novel employs various narrative formats, such as the short story, the magazine article, and the graphic slide presentation. The variety... Read A Visit from the Goon Squad Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction

Publication year 1995Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Identity: Mental Health, Identity: Race, Life/Time: Midlife, Life/Time: The Past, Natural World: Animals, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Grandparents, Relationships: Mothers, Society: Immigration, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction, Southern Literature, Depression / Suicide, Grief / Death

Pat Conroy’s 1995 novel Beach Music is a work of historical fiction. Set primarily in South Carolina, the novel follows a community fractured by memories of the Holocaust and the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s. Beach Music explores the nature of generational trauma and the way our pasts shape our futures. The power of forgiveness and the differences between duty and loyalty are also prominent themes. The setting and culture of the American... Read Beach Music Summary


Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Identity: Mental Health, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Place, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies

Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Self DiscoveryTags Realistic Fiction, Humor, LGBTQ, Music

Content Warning: Better Nate Than Ever contains sensitive material, such as bullying and LGBTQ-related slurs.Better Nate Than Ever (2013) is the first book in a trilogy about Broadway hopeful Nate Foster; the next two titles in the series are Five, Six, Seven, Nate! (2014) and Nate Expectations (2018). The novel is intended for middle grade and young adult readers but may also appeal to adult fans of theater-related fiction. Author Tim Federle and the fictional... Read Better Nate Than Ever Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Relationships: Grandparents, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Romance, LGBTQ, African American Literature, New Adult, Love / Sexuality

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Values/Ideas: Music, Identity: Race, Relationships: Mothers, Natural World: Food, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Equality, Relationships: Marriage, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Race / Racism, African American Literature

Bluebird, Bluebird (2017) by Texas native Attica Locke, published by Little, Brown and Company, is a 2018 Edgar and Anthony award-winning mystery novel. It was also selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Kirkus Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2017. The first in the Highway 59 series follows Texas Ranger Darren Mathews through the backroads of Texas in search of justice and reform... Read Bluebird, Bluebird Summary


Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Fathers, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies

Gordan Korman’s 2006 young adult coming-of-age novel Born to Rock follows teenager Leo Caraway as he sets out to get to know his biological father—the frontman of a legendary punk rock band—hoping to fund his college tuition while navigating the foreign world of punk rock and gets to know his roots. The novel, which was written for and dedicated to Korman’s son, also named Leo, explores themes of genetics, identity, self-expression, and lying.Korman is a... Read Born to Rock Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Midlife, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Self Discovery, Society: Community, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Music, Arts / Culture, Mental Illness, Social Justice

Publication year 2012Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Psychology, Mental Illness

Brain on Fire (2012) is a memoir by New York Post writer Susannah Cahalan that details her struggle with a rare autoimmune disease, anti-NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis. Cahalan recollects the journey through illness that took her from a normal, 24-year-old journalist to a misdiagnosed psychotic patient, and back again. In 2018, Netflix released a film based on Cahalan’s story, produced by Cahalan and Charlize Theron.Plot SummaryCahalan wakes in a hospital with no understanding of how she... Read Brain On Fire Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Music, Society: CommunityTags Arts / Culture, Race / Racism, History: U.S., Social Justice, Poverty, Music

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (Young Adult Edition) is an abridged version of the original 2005 non-fiction historical account of the origin and evolution of hip-hop culture written by Jeff Chang and David “Davey D” Cook. Jeff Chang is an American journalist, music critic, and historian who, in 1993, co-founded the hip-hop label Solesides, which aided in the launching of artists like DJ Shadow and Blackalicious. Jeff Chang earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the... Read Can't Stop Won't Stop (Young Adult Edition) Summary


Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Music, Life/Time: The Past, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Identity: Mental HealthTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Japanese Literature, Realistic Fiction, Grief / Death, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Love / Sexuality

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a 2014 novel by renowned Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. The novel tells the story of a man who attempts to overcome past emotional suffering to make his present life more rewarding. Through Tsukuru’s point of view, we see the ripple effects of rejection and the necessity of sometimes confronting the past to make sense of who we are in the present. After a group of friends... Read Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage Summary


Publication year 1982Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Family

Crimes of the Heart is a three-act play by Beth Henley. It opens five years after Hurricane Camille, in a Mississippi town called Hazlehurst. The entirety of the play takes place in the kitchen of the house belonging to the Magrath sisters: Lenny, Babe, and Meg.   The play begins on Lenny’s thirtieth birthday. Lenny and Chick, a first cousin, are taking about an unspecified piece of terrible news that will be appearing in the newspaper. It has something to do... Read Crimes of the Heart Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Fathers, Values/Ideas: FameTags Historical Fiction, Music

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s historical fiction novel Daisy Jones & The Six, published in 2019, is a contemporary work of fiction that explores the rich music culture of the 1970s in the United States. This time was known for rock ’n’ roll, partly as a cultural response to the strict rules of the 1960s and the disaster of the Vietnam War. The California dream world of hard partying, no rules, and freedom persists as a major... Read Daisy Jones & The Six Summary


Publication year 1968Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Science / Nature

Desert Solitaire is Edward Abbey’s 1968 memoir of his six months serving as a park ranger in Utah’s Arches National Park in the late 1950s. Throughout the book, Abbey describes his vivid and moving encounters with nature in her various forms: animals, storms, trees, rock formations, cliffs and mountains. He communicates an uncommon reverence for nature, and an unmistakable disdain for tame, cultured humanity, including the vast majority of the tourists who visit the park... Read Desert Solitaire Summary


Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Relationships: Family, Natural World: Environment, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: Midlife, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Romance, Drama / Tragedy

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Music, Identity: Mental Health, Relationships: Family, Relationships: SiblingsTags Romance, Realistic Fiction, Mental Illness

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Siblings, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature

Echo (2015) by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a young-adult novel about the power of music to unite individuals across time, and even save lives: the wide-reaching novel follows an enchanted harmonica to 1933 in Germany, 1934 in Pennsylvania, and 1942 in California, before uniting the characters we meet along the way at Carnegie Hall in 1951. Covering the rise of Nazism in Germany, the tail end of the Great Depression in the United States, and... Read Echo Summary


Publication year 1960Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music

“Entropy” is a short story by Thomas Pynchon. It is a part of his collection Slow Learner, and was originally published in the Kenyon Review in 1960, while Pynchon was still an undergraduate. In his introduction to the collection, Pynchon refers to “Entropy” as the work of a “beginning writer” (12).“Entropy” takes place in Washington, DC, in the spring of 1957. The first of the two settings is the apartment of a young man named... Read Entropy Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Music, Health / Medicine, Realistic Fiction

Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: Place, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Relationships: Siblings, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Natural World: Animals, Relationships: Family, Natural World: Environment, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Music, Identity: Gender, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Relationships: GrandparentsTags Fantasy, Action / Adventure, Children's Literature, Magical Realism

Fablehaven was written by Brandon Mull and first published in 2006. It is the first in a series about an ecological preserve for magical creatures. In the novel, middle-school-aged siblings Kendra and Seth take a trip to their grandparents’ land in rural Connecticut, which they soon realize is hiding magic of all types. The siblings explore the magical world they have discovered while learning how to be both brave and responsible.Fablehaven deals with themes concerning... Read Fablehaven Summary


Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Self Discovery, Relationships: Fathers, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Identity: Sexuality, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: FearTags Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Magical Realism, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Love / Sexuality, Music, Religion / Spirituality, Race / Racism

Fall on Your Knees (1996), first-time novelist Ann-Marie MacDonald’s ambitious multigenerational family saga set in the early decades of the 20th century, moves from the bleak coastal towns of Canada’s Cape Breton Island to the bustling New York City of the Jazz Era. Recalling both the psychological richness of William Faulkner’s family sagas set in Yoknapatawpha County and the dark passions in the Gothic tales of Flannery O’Connor, Fall on Your Knees follows three very... Read Fall on your Knees Summary


Publication year 2001Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Finding Fish is a 2001 memoir by Antwone Fisher, a Hollywood screenwriter. The memoir begins in Cleveland in 1959, when Eddie Elkins is shot and killed by his girlfriend. Shortly after, Antwone Fisher is born to Eva Gardner, whom Eddie dated briefly. The Elkins family never speaks about the tragic incident.Antwone’s first memory is looking out of a window at the home of his foster parents, the Picketts. Though he meets his biological mother once... Read Finding Fish Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Music, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature

Finding Langston, Lesa Cline-Ransome’s debut novel for middle-grade readers, is the story of an 11-year-old boy named Langston who loses his home but finds himself. The book received numerous accolades following its publication in 2018, including the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In 2020 Cline-Ransome published Leaving Lymon, a companion novel to Finding Langston that tells the story of Langston’s bully Lymon. This study guide refers to the 2018 Holiday House edition.Plot SummaryFinding Langston... Read Finding Langston Summary


Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Mothers

For One More Day, by Mitch Albom, tells the story of Charles “Chick” Benetto, a retired baseball player fallen on hard times. The story is framed by a prologue and epilogue where a narrator explains that they are telling the story from Chick’s perspective, “because I’m not sure you would believe this story if you didn’t hear it in his voice” (7). The book is comprised of short chapters told in the first person, and... Read For One More Day Summary


Publication year 1979Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Life/Time: Aging, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: The Past, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Natural World: Environment, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Identity: Gender, Identity: Masculinity, Identity: Femininity, Identity: Sexuality, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Marriage, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Teams, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Chinese Literature, Asian Literature

Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation details the first decade of the lives of Kimberley Chang and her mother after they emigrate from Hong Kong to New York City in the 1980s. The novel is told from Kim's perspective. Each chapter corresponds roughly to a year of her life, beginning in early elementary school and ending shortly before Kim goes to college. Kim struggles as she attempts to balance her doublelife as a brilliant student during... Read Girl In Translation Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music

Go, Went, Gone, is a 2015 fiction novel by German writer Jenny Erpenbeck. It tells the story of a recently retired professor of German philology named Richard and his relationship to a group of African refugees as he attempts to help them find residences in Berlin. Most of the men arrive in Europe via boat before making their way to Berlin, where Richard first encounters them as they occupy a town square called Alexanderplatz. When... Read Go, Went, Gone Summary


Publication year 2011Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Music, Arts / Culture

Published in 2011, Half-Blood Blues is the second book by Esi Edugyan, a black Canadian author. The novel won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2012 and was also shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize and the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction. As historical fiction, the story examines the lives of a diverse group of jazz musicians during World War II as they balance personal jealousies with the need to help each other amid mounting... Read Half-Blood Blues Summary


Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Identity: Disability, Relationships: Siblings, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction, Diversity, Immigration / Refugee, Race / Racism, Bullying

Jacqueline Woodson's 2018 middle grade novel, Harbor Me, tracks the bonds of friendship that develop across six fifth-graders when they are given a unique opportunity to get to know each other. Amari, Esteban, Tiago, Ashton, Holly, and Haley Shondell McGrath (the narrator) are students with special learning needs in a Brooklyn school. Each friend has fears and frustrations that they share with each other over the year, and by opening up, they discover a collective... Read Harbor me Summary


Publication year 1995Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Masculinity, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Humor, Music, Romance, Relationships, Love / Sexuality

High Fidelity is a 1995 fiction novel by the English author Nick Hornby. It tells the story of Rob Fleming, an obsessive music fan who examines his top five worst break ups to understand his most recent heartbreak. The book was adapted into a musical, a television series, and 2000 film starring John Cusack and directly by Stephen Frears.Plot SummaryRob Fleming is the 35-year-old owner of a record store in London. When his girlfriend Laura... Read High Fidelity Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Fathers, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: MusicTags WWII / World War II, Historical Fiction, Psychological Fiction

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford is a historical novel published in 2009. The story follows Henry Lee at two pivotal stages in his life—in 1942, when he is a 12-year-old with a crush on a Japanese girl, and in 1986, when he is recently widowed. The book, Ford’s debut novel, spent 130 weeks atop the New York Times Best-Seller List and won the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature... Read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Summary


Publication year 1984Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Relationships: Family

Mary Hood’s first collection of short stories, How Far She Went, was published in 1984 and won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the Southern Review/Louisiana State University Short Fiction Award. This study guide refers to the University of Georgia Press edition published in 1984. Four stories in the collection first appeared in The Georgia Review: “A Country Girl,” “Doing This, Saying That, to Applause,” “Manly Conclusions,” and “Inexorable Progress.” The opening story... Read How Far She Went Summary


Publication year 1997Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Life/Time: The Past

How I Learned to Drive, a play written by Paula Vogel, premiered Off-Broadway in 1997 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1998. It addresses pedophilia, victim blaming, and misogyny, as well as the complexities of love and family. Through non-chronological flashbacks, Li’l Bit, now in her forties, uses learning to drive as a metaphor for her learning about sex, and about life, from her aunt’s husband, Peck, with whom she has a sexual relationship. Each scene is designated... Read How I Learned to Drive Summary


Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Music

Publication year 1974Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Classic Fiction, Black Arts Movement, Romance, Modern Classic Fiction, American Literature, Existentialism, African American Literature

If Beale Street Could Talk is a novel by James Baldwin (1924-1987), a critically acclaimed African American writer on matters of race and the African American experience. Originally published in 1974, the novel gained fresh attention with Barry Jenkins’ film adaptation in 2019. The novel is the love story of salesclerk Clementine “Tish” Rivers and budding sculptor Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt, African American natives of Harlem whose lives are derailed in the late 1960s to early... Read If Beale Street Could Talk Summary


Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Bullying

If I Ever Get Out of Here (2013), by Eric Gansworth—a member of Onondaga Nation and Haudenosaunee—is a young adult, contemporary fiction novel about a teenage boy, Lewis “Shoe” Blake. Lewis narrates his struggles fitting into life in junior high and navigating the cultural differences between his life on the reservation, which he refers to as “the rez,” and that of his white classmates.Plot SummaryThe year is 1975 in northern New York State, and Lewis... Read If I Ever Get Out of Here Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction, Music

If I Stay is set in a small, contemporary Oregon town outside Portland and chronicles 17-year-old Mia’s struggle with life and death after a horrible automobile accident kills her parents and younger brother, and leaves her, the only survivor, in a coma.The narrative structure moves back and forth in time between her comatose present and her formative years growing up in a quirky musical family, developing into a gifted and dedicated cellist, meeting her best... Read If I Stay Summary


Publication year 2008Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Health / Medicine, Addiction / Substance Abuse, Self Help

Gabor Maté’s In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addictions is an unconventional nonfiction book on how to treat addiction, how addicts can better assimilate into society, and how society can dispel many of the myths that surround addiction. Maté works as an addiction specialist at the Portland Hotel in Vancouver, Canada.  Much of the book, published in 2010, focuses on Maté’s evidence that childhood stressors increase the likelihood that one will become... Read In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts Summary


Publication year 1996Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Action / Adventure, American Literature

Into the Wild is a nonfiction book written by Jon Krakauer. It was first published in 1996 and turned into a feature film directed by Sean Penn in 2007. It has been classified as outdoor writing, travel writing, and biography.In 1993 Krakauer published “Death of an Innocent” in Outside magazine, an article that detailed the death of Christopher McCandless. The article generated an enormous response from readers, and Krakauer spent a subsequent year tracing McCandless’s... Read Into The Wild Summary


Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: MusicTags History: U.S., Crime / Legal

Part memoir, part exhortation for much-needed reform to the American criminal justice system, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy is a heartrending and inspirational call to arms written by the activist lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based organization responsible for freeing or reducing the sentences of scores of wrongfully convicted individuals. Stevenson’s memoir weaves together personal stories from his years as a lawyer with strong statements against racial and legal injustice, drawing a clear... Read Just Mercy Summary


Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Values/Ideas: FateTags Asian Literature, Japanese Literature

A coming-of-age story that raises many questions about concepts such as good and evil, reality, time, and memory, Kafka on the Shore describes the journey of a fifteen year-old run-away, Kafka Tamura, from his home in Tokyo to the shores of Takamatsu. Kafka flees home because his father, a famous—but violent—sculptor, cursed him: he will kill his father and sleep with his mother and sister. Kafka’s mother fled with his older sister when Kafka was... Read Kafka on the Shore Summary


Publication year 1998Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature

The Last Days of Summer is an epistolary novel written by Steve Kluger and published in 1998. The novel offers a view into the life of Joey Margolis, an articulate, resourceful, tender-hearted young Jewish baseball fan who resides in Brooklyn, New York during the 1940s. His parents’ divorce results in Joey’s estrangement from his father, who marries a Manhattan socialite and fails to maintain contact with his son, as well as relocation from the Hasidic... Read Last Days of Summer Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Natural World: Environment, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Mothers, Identity: Race, Identity: Language, Society: CommunityTags Realistic Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Grief / Death

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Race, Identity: Mental Health, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction, Romance, Mythology, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, Grief / Death, History: World, Love / Sexuality, Military / War, Music, Race / Racism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, WWI / World War I, WWII / World War II

Publication year 1928Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music

Machinal, which means “mechanical” in French, is a play by Sophie Treadwell, and is based on the true story of a woman who murders her husband, after seven attempts; this woman, Ruth Snyder, is subsequently the very first female to be executed using the electric chair.The woman is convicted and executed for the murder.Machinal was first performed in London, in 1931, at the Royal National Theatre. Treadwell was a journalist and learned of the murder... Read Machinal Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Self Discovery, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Humor, Music

Publication year 1969Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Society: War, Natural World: Place, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Historical Fiction, Action / Adventure, Military / War

Master and Commander is a historical novel by the English writer Patrick O’Brian. It was first published in 1969, although it is set in 1800. O’Brian’s work is meticulously researched, drawing upon documents from the time period such as naval logs, official letters, and memories of sailors who fought in the Napoleonic Wars. Many of the naval battles described in the novel are based on real events, particularly Lord Thomas Cochrane’s victory over the superior... Read Master and Commander Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Romance, Disability, Bullying

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction

David Arnold’s 2015 debut novel, Mosquitoland, is a coming-of-age story that’s intended for a young adult audience. The novel was one of NPR’s and Amazon’s best books of 2015. This guide refers to the 2015 Penguin Random House edition. Plot SummaryThe story follows 16-year-old Mary Iris Malone, also referred to as Mim, as she travels alone from Jackson, Mississippi, to Cleveland, Ohio. Shortly before her journey, her parents divorced, and her father remarried and moved... Read Mosquitoland Summary


Publication year 1972Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

Published in 1973, Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo is a novel that decenters the Westernized, Judeo-Christian historical perspective and compels the reader to see history through a more Afrocentric lens. The novel incorporates nontraditional storytelling techniques such as linear distortion, footnotes, photographs, and charts. It is often affiliated with postmodernism and Afrofuturism.The story begins in 1920. There is an outbreak of Jes Grew, which is spreading toward Harlem, where the novel is primarily set. Those who... Read Mumbo Jumbo Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Music, Science / Nature, Psychology, Health / Medicine

Publication year 1816Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Lyric Poem, Science / Nature, Romanticism / Romantic Period

Publication year 2023Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Identity: Femininity, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Music, Inspirational

Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction

The novel opens on Alex choosing to get drunk and drive to his father’s in order to get revenge. Alex’s parents are recently divorced after his father starts to date Alex’s third-grade teacher. After crashing his mother’s car into a garden gnome, a very drunk Alex is taken into the police station and then transferred to the hospital with a concussion and alcohol poisoning. Alex’s mother grounds him for a month, until a judge punishes... Read Notes From The Midnight Driver Summary


Publication year 1930Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Classic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Auto/Biographical Fiction, History: U.S., Harlem Renaissance

Published in 1930, near the end of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes's Not Without Laughter is a coming-of-age narrative about James "Sandy" Rogers, an African-American boy from the small Kansas town of Stanton. Loosely based on Hughes's own childhood in Kansas, the novel traces the challenges of African-American life in the Midwest during the years leading up to World War I. The novel opens with a cyclone that rips the porch from the house of... Read Not Without Laughter Summary


Publication year 1820Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Femininity, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality

Publication year 1994Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Magical Realism

Set in the seaport city of Santa María de Antigua, in colonial Spanish Colombia, at the end of the 18th century, Gabriel García Márquez'snovel Of Love and Other Demons tells the tragic story of Sierva María de Todos Los Ángeles. The only daughter of the American-born Marquis de Casalduero, Sierva lives with her father the Marquis, and her mother, Bernarda, in a decaying mansion.Neither parent takes an interest in their daughter, so she's raised by... Read Of Love And Other Demons Summary


Publication year 2008Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Identity: Indigenous, Identity: Language, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Flora/plants, Natural World: Place, Self Discovery, Society: Colonialism, Society: Community, Society: Education, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Identity: Disability, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Art, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Realistic Fiction, Disability, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Music, Identity: DisabilityTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction, Gender / Feminism, Disability

Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind, based on her own experiences parenting a disabled child, is a New York Times Bestselling novel told from the first-person perspective of 10-year-old Melody Brooks. Melody is a fifth-grade girl who, due to cerebral palsy, is unable to communicate verbally and is wheelchair-bound. The struggles and prejudice that Melody encounters provide a more intimate and personal view of the lives of people with physical disabilities. Atheneum Books for Young... Read Out of My Mind Summary


Publication year 1997Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Society: Class, Natural World: Place, Natural World: Climate, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Identity: Disability, Relationships: Siblings, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Relationships: Mothers, Values/Ideas: Art, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Natural World: Animals, Relationships: Fathers, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Natural World: Food, Society: EducationTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Agriculture, History: U.S., Great Depression

Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust is a historical middle-grade novel in verse first published in 1997. Through 110 first-person free verse poems, the narrative tells the story of two years in the life of Billie Jo Kelby, young daughter of a struggling farming family in the Oklahoma Panhandle in the mid-1930s. After a tragic accident results in the death of Billie Jo’s mother and baby brother, she and her father must find a way... Read Out of the Dust Summary


Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction

John Green’s Paper Towns is a coming-of-age story that follows the lives of two childhood friends, the reserved Quentin Jacobsen and the legendary Margo Roth Spiegelman. Quentin says that every human being is graced with one miracle in their lifetime. His miracle is living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman. He has spent a lifetime obsessing over her, though their friendship has cooled over the years. At the start of the novel, they are in... Read Paper Towns Summary


Publication year 1996Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Gender, Identity: FemininityTags Gender / Feminism, Race / Racism, Black Lives Matter

Publication year 1915Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Music, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: MidlifeTags Poetry: Dramatic Poem, Narrative / Epic Poem, Modernism, British Literature, American Literature, Relationships, Love / Sexuality, Class

Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Business / Economics, Psychology, Self Help, Science / Nature, Education, Sports, Music, Arts / Culture

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

Jacqueline Woodson’s 2019 Red at the Bone is a work of fiction that centers on the coming together of two dissimilar families because of a teen pregnancy. Highly acclaimed and award-winning author Woodson offers a counternarrative to the familiar tale of teenage pregnancy while considering how identity intersects with class, race, sexuality, gender, and history. This study guide was created with the aid of the Riverhead Books 2019 hardback edition. Plot SummaryThe novel opens 80... Read Red at the Bone Summary


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Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature

Refugee is a historical, young adult fiction novel by Alan Gratz. First published in 2017, Refugee became a New York Times bestseller.Plot SummaryThe novel follows the stories of three refugee children in three different geographic locations and points in time. Each child experiences traumatic losses and personal victories as they struggle to escape the political instability of their homelands. Josef Landau is fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939. Isabel Fernandez is escaping Castro’s Cuba in 1994... Read Refugee Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Self Discovery, Life/Time: The Past, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Mothers, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: LonelinessTags Romance, Love / Sexuality, Relationships

Publication year 1995Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Life/Time: The PastTags Magical Realism, Humor

Reservation Blues tells the story of Coyote Springs, a Spokane Indian rock band. The band is founded on a reservation, slowly gathers fans, and begins to play shows. Coyote Springs is given the chance to audition for a major record company in New York City, but, ultimately, the band does not succeed. The book combines traditional narrative with a mixture of other narrative techniques, including newspaper articles, song lyrics, interviews, and excerpts from journals. Together... Read Reservation Blues Summary


Publication year 2002Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Disability

Riding the Bus With My Sister: A True Life Journey is the New York Times bestselling author Rachel Simon’s 2002 memoir chronicling her experiences with her intellectually disabled sister, Beth. Over the course of a year, Simon rides the bus with Beth and writes about the journey. She learns to confront her own ignorance about her sister’s condition and forms a close bond with her. The book chronicles Rachel’s emotional and spiritual growth, as Rachel’s... Read Riding The Bus With My Sister Summary


Publication year 1995Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music

Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks is a 1995 bildungsroman that follows the picaresque journey of Chapman “Chappie” Dorset, also known as Bone. It is in the tradition of books like J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, though it incorporates themes of drug use and homelessness that set it apart as a more nuanced, grunge-era take on growing up as a troubled youth. Plot SummaryThe book... Read Rule of the Bone Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Music, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Relationships

Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction

Published in 2009, Sag Harbor is the fourth novel by Colson Whitehead. Whitehead refers to this novel as “my autobiographical fourth novel,” as he used some of his childhood summer experiences at Sag Harbor, New York, to write this story. Sag Harbor was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Whitehead is also the author of The Underground Railroad, which won the Pulitzer Prize, as well as The Nickel Boys, The... Read Sag Harbor Summary


Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Children's Literature, Realistic Fiction

Same Sun Here, co-written by Silas House and Neela Vaswani, details a year in the lives of two young people: an Indian immigrant living in New York City, and a small-town boy from Kentucky. Written as a series of letters between the two main characters, this middle grade novel is narrated by each author writing from the perspective of a separate character. Published in 2011, the book received the Nautilus Book Award, the E.B. White... Read Same Sun Here Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Life/Time: The Future, Life/Time: The Past, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Space & The Universe, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Art, Society: ColonialismTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction, American Civil War, Romance, Military / War

Publication year 1329Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Fairy Tale / Folklore, Classic Fiction, Medieval Literature / Middle Ages

Publication year 2014Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Mystery / Crime Fiction

Skink—No Surrender was written by Floridian author Carl Hiaasen and published by Ember, part of Penguin Random House, in 2014. According to the biography on his website (carlhiaasen.com), Hiaasen has lived in Florida his entire life. He is the author of several bestselling novels for adults, all of which are set in his home state. His works for young readers include the Newbery Honoree Hoot, which was adapted for film in 2006. Clinton Tyree, alias... Read Skink—No Surrender Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Siblings, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Fame, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Self Discovery, Society: Class, Society: Community, Society: Colonialism, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Prose poetry, Free verse, Addiction / Substance Abuse, Music

Publication year 1957Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Music, Existentialism, Black Arts Movement

“Sonny’s Blues” is a short story by author James Baldwin, which was published in the literary magazine Partisan Review in 1957. The story was later included in a 1965 collection of Baldwin’s stories, Going to Meet the Man. “Sonny’s Blues” describes the relationship between an unnamed narrator and his younger brother, Sonny. The story explores how the experience of growing up Black amid racism and poverty impacts a person’s psychology and relationships. This guide follows... Read Sonny's Blues Summary


Publication year 1979Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music

Sophie’s Choice (1979) is one of William Styron’s better-remembered novels. It is described as an American classic or historical fiction, though it falls squarely into the category of adult literary fiction. The book would be unsuitable for younger readers because of its explicit treatment of sex. It won the 1980 National Book Award and became a bestseller. The 1982 film adaptation, starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, garnered an Oscar for Streep’s performance.Sophie’s Choice stirred... Read Sophie's Choice Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags African American Literature, History: U.S., Civil Rights / Jim Crow, Black Lives Matter

Ibrahim Kendi’s comprehensive history of racial thought in the US, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, was published in 2016. Organized around the lifespans of five of the most influential or representative individuals in racial thought across American history, the text spans centuries, offering an overview of the enduring and evolving forms of racist ideology in America.Kendi’s book incorporates conversations in science, literature, visual and musical arts, politics, and... Read Stamped From the Beginning Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Values/Ideas: Music, Natural World: Space & The Universe, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Historical Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Mental Illness, Philosophy

Publication year 1973Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Psychology, Mental Illness

Sybil, by Flora Rheta Schreiber, tells the story of the recovery of the pseudonymous Sybil Dorsett (in real life, Shirley Mason), a woman who suffers from multiple personality disorder because of severe childhood trauma. Published in 1973, the book and the subsequent mini-series caused an immediate sensation, selling millions of copies and bringing the little-known disorder into Americans’ cultural awareness. The story claims to be nonfiction, but critics of the book, such as Debbie Nathan... Read Sybil Summary


Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Mystery / Crime Fiction

Publication year 1929Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music

Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine is a play originally published in 1923. The play centers around the life, death, and afterlife of a man named Zero. He and his wife live in a society dominated by reverence for financial gain and opportunism, with an emphasis on morality and rigid determinations of what is right and wrong. Mr. and Mrs. Zero come in fairly low on this social hierarchy, and while Zero is content in his... Read The Adding Machine Summary


Publication year 1899Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Mothers, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Gender / Feminism, Classic Fiction, American Literature, Depression / Suicide, Naturalism

The Awakening is Kate Chopin’s second novel. It was first published in 1899 and is considered one of the first examples of feminist fiction.The novel opens in the 1890s Louisiana, at Grand Isle, a summer holiday resort popular among wealthy Creoles who live in nearby New Orleans. Edna Pontellier, her husband, Léonce, and their two children are vacationing at the cottages of Madame Lebrun. Léonce is a kind and devoted husband, but he is often... Read The Awakening Summary


Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Relationships: Teams, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Religion / Spirituality, Arts / Culture

The Beautiful Mystery, published in 2012, is the eighth book in former Canadian journalist Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series. The Gamache series is known for its recurring cast of characters, psychological depth, and long-term story arcs. Gamache is a longtime member of Québec’s provincial police force, most often known by its French name, the Sûreté du Québec. Gamache’s struggles with police corruption form the main plot of several books, including A Fatal Grace and... Read The Beautiful Mystery Summary


Publication year 2008Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: FamilyTags Race / Racism

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Beautiful Struggle, published in 2009, is the writer’s memoir of his childhood and early teenage years. It is a true bildungsroman, or coming-of-age story, but it also is a character study of Coates’s father, and secondarily, of his brother Big Bill. The book profiles Coates’s experiences growing up in various Baltimore neighborhoods with a family always somewhat in flux, attending different schools as he matures into early adulthood. Coates’s first two chapters... Read The Beautiful Struggle Summary


Publication year 1872Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Philosophy, Arts / Culture, German literature, Drama / Tragedy

The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music is a work of dramatic theory and cultural criticism by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). It was originally published in 1872 as Nietzsche’s first work, and later rereleased in 1886 under the title The Birth of Tragedy, or Hellenism and Pessimism. Nietzsche argues that Greek tragedy is born out of the merger between Apollonian and Dionysian perspectives. Nietzsche first differentiates between these two worldviews... Read The Birth of Tragedy Summary


Publication year 1993Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Sociology, Race / Racism, Arts / Culture, History: World, African American Literature, Afro-Caribbean Literature, British Literature

The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness, published in 1993 by Harvard University Press, combines historical, social, political, and cultural dimensions to reconceptualize the contours of Western modernity. Paul Gilroy, noted sociologist and cultural historian, proposes that modernity can be better understood through the analytical frame of the Black Atlantic, a transnational, intercultural, fractal structure of Black political and expressive cultures in the West. Reflections of experiences of modernity by early Black Atlantic intellectuals and... Read The Black Atlantic Summary


Publication year 2006Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Lyric Poem, Music

Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

Aminata Diallo, from the village of Bayo, in western Africa, is the daughter of Mamadu, a jeweler, and Sira, a midwife. At the age of eleven, she is kidnapped after watching her parents murdered and her village burned. She is captured by African slave traders, who sell her to white slave traders. She and the other captives are marched in a coffle, a line of prisoners chained together, on a harrowing three-month journey to the... Read The Book of Negroes Summary


Publication year 1990Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

The Buddha of Suburbia, by Hanif Kureishi, is a coming-of-age novel that explores significant themes of identity, class, and race in 1970s London. Karim Amir, the protagonist and narrator, tells the story of his maturation against a backdrop of political and social change, as he attempts to create himself, discover his place in life, and grow up. Told in the first person, Karim narrates his life from age 17 to about age 23.The Buddha of... Read The Buddha of Suburbia Summary


Publication year 1914Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: Nation, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Race / Racism, Music

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Mental Health, Relationships: Siblings, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: The Future, Life/Time: The Past, Relationships: Fathers, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Music, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Magical Realism, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Race / Racism

Publication year 1960Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Self Discovery, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: PlaceTags Children's Literature, Fantasy, Action / Adventure, Animals, Diversity, Science / Nature

Trapped in a picnic basket, Chester Cricket travels from his peaceful Connecticut home to the bustling Times Square subway station in George Selden’s classic children’s novel, The Cricket in Times Square (1960). There, Chester makes three good friends who help him navigate—and enjoy—his new city life: Mario Bellini, a young boy whose parents run a struggling newsstand; Tucker, a sociable mouse; and Tucker’s best friend, the cultured Harry Cat. Mishaps in the newsstand set Mama... Read The Cricket In Times Square Summary


Publication year 2011Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Religion / Spirituality, Christian literature, Race / Racism, Social Justice, Reconstruction Era

Publication year 1914Genre Novella, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Relationships: MarriageTags Grief / Death, Relationships

“The Dead” is a short story by Irish writer James Joyce. The story is a part of Joyce’s renowned Dubliners collection, first published in 1914, which portrays daily life in the Irish city of Dublin in the early 20th century. In “The Dead,” a literary young man attends a party with his wife. The events at the party prompt him to reflect on his life and his place in the universe. The short story has... Read The Dead Summary


Publication year 2014Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music

The Flick is a two-act play by Annie Baker that premiered at the New York City Playwrights Horizons theater in 2013. Set in a run-down movie theater of the same name, The Flick is located in the suburban Worchester County of central Massachusetts. The play follows the evolving workplace relationships of three underpaid movie theater employees as they struggle not only to make a living but to define their lives, their values, and their identities... Read The Flick Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

The German Girl is a historical novel written by Cuban journalist and editor Armando Lucas Correa. It interweaves the stories of Anna Rosen, a 12-year-old girl living in New York in 2014, and Hannah Rosenthal, her great aunt, whose journey begins as a 12-year-old Jewish girl living in Nazi-occupied Berlin in 1939. Anna’s story revolves around a trip to Cuba to visit her great aunt Hannah, while Hannah’s story primarily centers around her journey onboard... Read The German Girl Summary


Publication year 2002Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Lyric Poem

Publication year 2013Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags History: U.S.

Winner of the 2015 Avery O. Craven Prize and the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize, Edward E. Baptist’s 2014 book, The Half Has Never Been Told, challenges revisionist historical studies and presents slavery as a modern and modernizing institution that was central to the creation of American wealth and power. Drawing on slave narratives and other sources, it examines the development and growth of American slavery and the far-reaching effects it had on the nation from... Read The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

The Huntress is a historical fiction novel published in 2019 by the American author Kate Quinn. Set in the years before, during, and after World War II, the novel weaves together the stories of three central characters: a Russian pilot in the Soviet Red Army’s all-female bomber unit; an American photographer whose father falls in love with a mysterious Austrian woman; and an English war correspondent committed to exposing Nazi war criminals. According to Washington... Read The Huntress Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Identity: Femininity, Values/Ideas: FameTags Romance, New Adult

Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Mothers, Society: Community, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

Publication year 1889Genre Novella, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Classic Fiction, Love / Sexuality, Russian Literature

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Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Chinese Literature, Asian Literature

The Leavers, author Lisa Ko's debut novel, won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. Inspired by a 2009 New York Times article about an undocumented Chinese woman held in predominantly solitary detention for 18 months, The Leavers tells the coming-of-age tale of Deming Guo/Daniel Wilkinson’s loss and eventual reconciliation with his birth mother, Polly Guo. In his journey to find his mother, Daniel learns of Polly’s challenges and comes to terms with his... Read The Leavers Summary


Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

Henry Holt and Company published Antonio Iturbe’s novel, The Librarian of Auschwitz, in America on September 18, 2012. Before the English Language version, Iturbe’s novel appeared in Spain as La bibliotecaria de Auschwitz. Antonio Iturbe is a Spanish journalist, writer, and professor who has taught postgraduate courses in journalism at universities in Madrid and Barcelona and is the President of the Association of Cultural Journalists of Catalonia. Iturbe wrote The Librarian of Auschwitz when he... Read The Librarian of Auschwitz Summary


Publication year 2005Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Crime / Legal, Class, Social Justice, Incarceration

Michael Connelly is a prolific New York Times bestselling author. His legal thriller, The Lincoln Lawyer, won the Shamus Award and Macavity Award in 2006. The book was then successfully adapted to film. Connelly is widely regarded as one of the best American mystery writers. This guide refers to the 2005 Hieronymus, Inc. edition. Plot SummaryMichael “Mick” Haller is a criminal defense attorney working in Los Angeles. He spends most of his time working out... Read The Lincoln Lawyer Summary


Publication year 1953Genre Novel, FictionThemes Self Discovery, Identity: Gender, Identity: Indigenous, Identity: Masculinity, Identity: Race, Life/Time: The Past, Relationships: Marriage, Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Magical Realism, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Latin American Literature

The Lost Steps, first published in 1953 by Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier, is a parody of the lost world novels that were popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, including Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1912). The novel follows an unnamed New York City composer on a quest for Indigenous musical instruments in South America. Carpentier, known for his roles as a... Read The Lost Steps Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Fantasy

The Name of the Wind, published in 2007, is the first book in author Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle series. The fantasy novel is an incomplete coming-of-age-style tale about Kvothe, a legendary and extraordinary figure whose many heroic deeds are the subject of local lore. Kvothe has come to retire as an innkeeper in a small town where the people know him as “Kote.” However, disquieting events start to happen as a result of a... Read The Name of the Wind Summary


Publication year 1990Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Values/Ideas: Music, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies

Publication year 1973Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

The narrator describes the setting of the story: a seaside city called Omelas, where the "Festival of Summer" has just begun. Music is playing, parades and processions are underway, and all the residents of the town seem happy and excited as they converge on the Green Fields. Here, boys and girls wait with their ornamented but unsaddled horses for a race to begin.The beauty of the weather and scenery match the mood of the city:... Read The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas Summary


Publication year 2005Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Relationships: Family, Self Discovery, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Music, Natural World: AnimalsTags Realistic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Children's Literature, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Animals, Relationships, Class, Music, Parenting

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Publication year 1999Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Depression / Suicide, Mental Illness, LGBTQ

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is Stephen Chbosky’s first novel and was published in 1999. It is young adult fiction and a coming-of-age tale told from the perspective of Charlie, a freshman in high school. The epistolary novel is comprised of a series of letters that Charlie writes to someone he calls “friend,” although he has never met this friend in person. He makes it immediately clear that he wants to remain anonymous with... Read The Perks of Being a Wallflower Summary


Publication year 1910Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Relationships: Fathers, Emotions/Behavior: GratitudeTags Classic Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Romance, Gothic Literature

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux is a Gothic mystery novel first published serially in 1910. The novel follows a “ghost” who haunts the Paris Opera and the mysterious incidents attributed to this figure. The characters and the narrator himself try to uncover the secret of this ghost, who is really a masked man infatuated opera singer, Christine Daaé. The novel has been adapted into several formats, most notably a 1925 silent film... Read The Phantom of the Opera Summary


Publication year 1961Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Self Discovery, Relationships: SiblingsTags Fantasy, Action / Adventure

In Norton Juster’s 1961 middle-grade fantasy adventure The Phantom Tollbooth, a bored young boy visits a magical land whose people suffer from a strange delusion and volunteers to find a source of wisdom that can heal them. The book is a touchstone for generations of young readers; it has sold nearly five million copies in more than a dozen languages and has been adapted for film, stage, and symphony hall. Author Juster published a dozen... Read The Phantom Tollbooth Summary


Publication year 2024Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Identity: Gender, Identity: Race, Identity: Sexuality, Natural World: Flora/plants, Relationships: Friendship, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

Publication year 1946Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Music

Władysław Szpilman writes his 1946 memoir, The Pianist, about his experiences in Poland during World War II. Before the war, he is a well-known pianist and composer who works with Radio Poland. When the Germans invade Poland in September 1930, Władysław and his family are relegated to the Warsaw ghetto. Though not as wealthy as some of the other inhabitants of the ghetto, Władysław is part of the intelligentsia, a class of artists and intellectuals... Read The Pianist Summary


Publication year 1987Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: Race, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Play: Drama, Historical Fiction, African American Literature

IntroductionAugust Wilson’s play The Piano Lesson premiered in 1987 at Yale Repertory Theatre starring a young, unknown Samuel L. Jackson as Boy Willie. The play opened on Broadway in 1990 with Charles S. Dutton (Boy Willie), S. Epatha Merkerson (Berniece), and Jackson in his Broadway debut as Dutton’s understudy; it earned five Tony nominations, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play award. It also won the... Read The Piano Lesson Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & PrideTags Music, Realistic Fiction

Elizabeth Acevedo’s award-winning 2018 young adult novel, The Poet X, brings to life the inner world of protagonist Xiomara Batista. Xiomara is 15 years old, and from her bedroom in Harlem, she writes poetry in order to put on the page all the feelings and ideas she cannot seem to be able to say out loud. Xiomara resigns herself to writing in her notebook and sharing her thoughts with only a few trusted individuals until... Read The Poet X Summary


Publication year 2006Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Fathers, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Business / Economics

Chris Gardner’s memoir, The Pursuit of Happyness, details his pursuit of the American Dream and desire to rise against the challenging circumstances of his birth and attain success. From the outset, life is difficult for Gardner, a poor black child growing up in the Milwaukee ghetto with his mother, sisters and violent, abusive stepfather, Freddie. Gardner’s mother, Bettye Jean, had her own dreams taken away from her, when her father refused to pay for her... Read The Pursuit of Happyness Summary


Publication year 1971Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: War, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Music, Society: CommunityTags Lyric Poem, Race / Racism, Social Justice, Music, African American Literature

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Religion / Spirituality, Gender / Feminism, History: Middle Eastern

In The Secret Chord (2015), Geraldine Brooks, a former journalist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of historical fiction, turns to the story of the biblical King David. She uses this figure from religion and history to study human nature. Her David is far from a saint. He is a complex character: “a man who dwelt in the searing glance of the divine, but who sweated and stank, rutted without restraint, butchered the innocent, betrayed those... Read The Secret Chord Summary


Publication year 1993Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

The Smell of Apples, the first novel by South African writer Mark Behr, was originally published in 1993 in Afrikaner, before being published in English translation in 1995 to international acclaim. It won numerous prestigious literary prizes, most notably the M-Net Literary Award for best South African novel; the Betty Trask Award for best first novel published in the British Commonwealth; and the Art Seidenbaum Award for best English-language first novel, presented by The Los... Read The Smell of Apples Summary


Publication year 1915Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Identity: Gender, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Place, Self Discovery, Society: Immigration, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Music, Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, American Literature

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather is the second novel in her classic American series entitled The Great Plains Trilogy. The trilogy includes O, Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My Antonia (1918). Each novel in this trilogy explores different stories of women who find themselves challenged, nurtured, and built up by the natural beauty of the American West. These novels explore the conflicts and compromises when women either lean... Read The Song of the Lark Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Fame, Relationships: Fathers, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Self DiscoveryTags Music

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Siblings, Society: Community, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Food, Natural World: PlaceTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Urban Development

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Music, Race / Racism

Publication year 1972Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Education

First published in 1972, novelist Pat Conroy’s book, The Water Is Wide: A Memoir, recounts his experiences teaching on an island off the South Carolina coast. Plot SummaryA young teacher, Pat considers the Vietnam War to be unjust and intends to join the Peace Corps in order to avoid being drafted. When he does not hear back about his application, he volunteers to teach on Yamacraw Island instead. In his first week, Pat is shocked... Read The Water Is Wide Summary


Publication year 1934Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Harlem Renaissance

Published in 1934, The Ways of White Folks is Langston Hughes’s collection of 14 short stories focusing on race relations in the United States. With somber tales of struggle and violence, as well as moments of irony and humor, the collection addresses racism, economic disparity, and hope. This study guide quotes and obscures Hughes’s use of the n-word. Plot Summary“Cora Unashamed” tells the story of Cora Jenkins, who works as a maid for a cruel... Read The Ways of White Folks Summary


Publication year 1926Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Lyric Poem, Race / Racism

Publication year 2017Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: GriefTags Music, Race / Racism, Politics / Government, African American Literature

Publication year 1993Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Fame

Trainspotting is Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh’s 1993 work of fiction. Set in the late 1980s, the novel follows the “Skag Boys,” who are involved in Edinburgh, Scotland’s heroin scene, particularly in the neighborhood of Leith. Most of the novel portrays a Scottish English dialect, though some portions are in British English. Separated into seven parts, the 43 chapters are from different character’s perspectives, and some are in third person, making for a disjointed narrative that... Read Trainspotting Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Realistic Fiction

Trampoline is an illustrated novel written by Robert Gipe. Ohio University Press published the novel in 2015. The story takes place in the fictional Canard County, located in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. The narrator, Dawn Jewell, tells the story of the holiday season when she was 15 years old. Dawn is intelligent, creative, and thoughtful. She lives with her grandmother, whom she calls Mamaw, because her own mother, Momma, is too addicted to drugs... Read Trampoline Summary


Publication year 1998Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Music, Identity: SexualityTags Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Music, Grief / Death, Race / Racism, Love / Sexuality

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Gratitude, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Flora/plants, Natural World: Food, Society: Community, Society: Economics, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Grandparents, Relationships: MothersTags Historical Fiction, Action / Adventure, Children's Literature, Great Depression, Animals

Turtle in Paradise is a 2010 historical fiction children’s novel by Jennifer L. Holm. Set in the Florida Keys during the Great Depression, the novel follows an 11-year-old girl’s struggles and successes as she visits her aunt and cousins in the town where her mother grew up. The novel won the Golden Kite Award and is a Newbery Honor Book as well as a Junior Library Guild selection.This guide refers to the 2010 Random House... Read Turtle in Paradise Summary


Publication year 1896Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Humor, Play: Comedy / Satire, Absurdism, French Literature

Ubu Roi, a play by Alfred Jarry, debuted in Paris in December 1896. The play’s opening night at the Théâtrede l’Oeuvre was also its closing night, as a commotion—often described as a “riot”—broke out amongst the audience, who were accustomed to naturalist theatre and were horrified by the play’s shocking and crude nature. Nonetheless, the play has gone on to be seen as a deeply-influential work of theatre, and is cited as one of the precursors to modernism and... Read Ubu Roi Summary


Publication year 2005Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Music

We Beat the Street: How A Friendship Pact Led to Success is a New York Times best-selling nonfiction work published in 2005 that examines the lives and choices of three friends and now-doctors Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins. The book was co-authored with the help of award-winning children's author Sharon M. Draper. Plot SummarySampson, Rameck, and George hail from dangerous and underprivileged neighborhoods in Newark, NJ. Though the boys come from loving families... Read We Beat the Street Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

We Were the Lucky Ones, written by Georgia Hunter and published in 2017, is a historical novel based on the actual experiences of the author’s family during World War II. Hunter’s grandfather, Addy Kurc, came from a family of Jews in Radom, Poland. The book follows the story of Addy, his parents Nechuma and Sol, and his siblings Genek, Mila, Jakob, and Halina, along with their spouses, as they struggle to survive the Holocaust and... Read We Were the Lucky Ones Summary


Publication year 1993Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Immigration / Refugee, American Literature

The memoir When I Was Puerto Rican recounts author Esmeralda Santiago’s early years. It is the first of her three memoirs chronicling her childhood in Puerto Rico to her eventual residence in the United States. It is a coming of age story, but mines richer material than that. Questions of identity—national identity, hereditary identity, familial identity, female identity, spiritual identity, and semantic labels—underpin the stories Santiago tells.The book begins in Puerto Rico, when Esmeralda is... Read When I Was Puerto Rican Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: The Past, Relationships: Friendship, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Romance, Magical Realism, Drama / Tragedy, Grief / Death