TROY — An Irish orphan in the 1920s, a family of Mexican immigrants, a 19th century woman and her slave, and the current American justice system — these are the diverse subjects of the four Big Read book finalists. Now the public is invited to choose which will be the next Big Read community reading selection.
Each spring, the Big Read encourages Miami Valley residents to read and talk about the same book. A selection committee has narrowed the options to the four finalists; votes can be cast at public libraries, Books & Co., or online at BigRead.org from Sept. 13 through Oct. 24. The winning title will be announced at the end of October.
The four finalists for the 2016 Big Read are:
• “The Book of Unknown Americans” by Cristina Henriquez
When the Rivera family moves from a comfortable life in Mexico to Delaware so their 15-year-old brain-damaged daughter can attend a special school, their lives are complicated by poor living arrangements, expensive foreign-tasting food, degrading employment and language issues. Neighboring Latinos provide friendship and relief during the difficult transition. A romance ends in tragedy, sparked by intolerance of immigrants, yet hope prevails.
• “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd
The author illuminates the lives and limitations of women in the 19th century. For her 11th birthday, Sarah is given Handful as her handmaid. The story details the next 35 years of their lives as they each struggle against the limitations placed upon them. Sarah dreams of becoming a lawyer, but is discouraged from an education and is steered toward more typically female pursuits. Handful witnesses the horrors of slavery and longs to be free. As the girls grow into women, they each experience loss, but also discover themselves and build their futures.
• “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard-educated black lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, takes readers through his amazing 30-year career defending the defenseless. Many of his clients are young, poor and black. Many are on death row without legal representation. Some are children sentenced to life in prison without parole, and some are completely innocent. All have been denied fair treatment in our courts. Stevenson’s stories of injustice are an alarming call to action.
• “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline
In 1929, Vivian was an orphaned Irish immigrant sent on a train with dozens of other children to find new families and better lives in the Midwest. Initially she is pressed into a sweatshop work and later into childcare for a highly dysfunctional family, but eventually she connects with a family willing to love her and help her attend school. In a parallel story set in present-day Maine, Molly is close to ‘aging out’ out of foster care. When she is caught stealing a favorite book, she takes a community service position helping an elderly woman – Vivian – clean out her home. Molly helps Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life.
This is the 10th anniversary for the Big Read. The Big Read now includes 10 public library systems and two academic libraries across seven counties, as well as a book store and nonprofit organizations. The Troy-Miami County Public Library is proud to be a Big Read partner. It’s a great opportunity to get people reading and talking about the same book.
For more information about the Big Read contact Erin Mattan at [email protected]