One of the things contemporary fiction does is deal with tough issues, such as suicide, rape, drug abuse, etc. I think it’s important that books do this because it gives kids and parents an avenue to discuss those issues. I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction. It’s not that I don’t like it; I’m just not drawn to it as much as I am other genres. Because of that, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be able to come up with ten this time around. But, I’ll do my best:
- You Are Special by Max Lucado: You Are Special deals with peer pressure and ostracism. Punchinello is looked down upon by most of the Wemmicks in his village because he’s not as clever, fast, or nimble as they are. But, Punchinello learns that it doesn’t matter what others think of him and learns to love himself as God loves him.
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: Rape has been branded as taboo for a long time. It’s not something most people talk about. And, unfortunately, the victims of rape usually don’t feel like they have anyone to talk to or confide in. I think Speak does an excellent job of showing how one young girl’s life is affected by rape. I think Speak can help victims of rape realize they’re not alone, and help those around them be aware of how victims feel.
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: One of the most beloved books of all time, The Diary of a Young Girl shows what Anne Frank’s family went through during the Holocaust, how they tried to keep from being sent to a concentration camp and stay alive while the Jews were being persecuted during World War II. It’s a tremendous story of finding hope in deplorable circumstances.
- Night by Elie Wiesel: As I said last week, Night, more than any history lesson taught in school, would’ve helped me see the true horror of the Holocaust. There are things Wiesel mentions that he saw that I didn’t even think of and it made the horror more real. The Holocaust is hard to talk about, but it must be talked about so it’s never forgotten. By never forgetting, hopefully, we can prevent it from happening again.
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry: A look at the Holocaust through a child’s eyes. Number the Stars tackles fear, oppression, friendship, and bravery as one family tries to save another from being sent to a concentration camp.
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck: An allegory of the Garden of Eden, East of Eden tackles the ever present Good vs. Evil, but in a way that’s real and every human being can relate to. More importantly, however, it deals with the concept of choice and how each person is responsible for their own life and what they do with it.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: In Fahrenheit 451, entertainment is no longer about thinking and improving oneself. It no longer deals with tough issues. It’s all about keeping the average person happy. Most people no longer think for themselves and just go along with the current society. Book are the enemy because they deal with those tough issues. They’re censored to the maximum in that they’re forbidden and burned.
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: In the early 17th to 19th century, religious persecution was about forcing beliefs on a society. People weren’t allowed to sin, and if they did, their sins were paraded in front of everyone just as Hester Prynne’s were. While religious persecution isn’t quite the same, we can still learn from The Scarlet Letter. We can learn to tolerate others, even if our beliefs aren’t the same.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: A look into the future and what’s it like to live under an oppressive government. Although The Hunger Games isn’t the first dystopian novel to explore oppression, it’s definitely one of the most notable.
- *The Left-Handed Book by James T. de Kay: Nowhere is a lefty’s lot in life described better than it is in The Left-Handed Book. If lefties want to survive, they must learn to adapt to a right-handed man’s world. They must learn to use tools not designed for their dominant hand, even when it’s potentially dangerous and life-threatening. They must learn to drink their coffee or hot chocolate from the backside of the mug, with no picture to keep them company as they drink. Right-handed people would do well to read this book and learn how they’re oppressing lefties so it can be stopped!
*Obviously, at least I hope it’s obvious, this was added for comedic/satiric value. I am a lefty, but adapting to a right-handed man’s world really isn’t that hard. And, even though I think some right-handed people could be a little more sensitive to a lefty’s predicament, I don’t think we’re oppressed in any way … at least not anymore.
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