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Through the Decades

Readers' Cafe

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The Color Purple / Alice Walker

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Alice Walker's iconic modern classic is now a Penguin Book.A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience.

The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery.

Conjure Women / Afia Atakora

A dazzling debut novel that sweeps across eras and generations to tell the story of a mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing--and the conjuring of curses.The intimate bonds and transgressions among people and across racial divides, during both slaverytime and freedomtime, are at the heart of this mesmerizing and surprising first novel.

Like her mother, Rue is an all-knowing midwife, healer, and conjurer of curses on the plantation of Marse Charles. Moving back and forth in time between the years before and after the Civil War, Conjure Women tells the story of Rue, the families she cares for, and the mysteries and secrets she knows about the plantation owner's daughter, Varina. Afia Atakora is a brilliant young writer who creates unforgettable characters, and an enthralling story written in unique and beautiful prose.

everyman / M Shelly Conner

Eve Mann arrives in Ideal, Georgia, in 1972, looking for answers about the mother who died giving her life. A mother named Mercy. A mother who for all of Eve's twenty-two years has been a mystery and a quest. Eve's search for her mother, and the father she never knew, is a mission to discover her identity, her name, her people, her home. Eve's questions and longing launch a multigenerational story that sprawls back to the turn of the twentieth century, settles into the soil of the South, the blood and souls of Black folk making love and life, and fleeing into a Great Migration into the savage embrace of the North. Eve is a young woman coming of age in Chicago against the backdrop of the twin fires and fury of the civil rights and Black Power movements.

Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy / Bruce Watson

A riveting account of one of the most remarkable episodes in American history. In his critically acclaimed history Freedom Summer, award- winning author Bruce Watson presents powerful testimony about a crucial episode in the American civil rights movement. During the sweltering summer of 1964, more than seven hundred American college students descended upon segregated, reactionary Mississippi to register black voters and educate black children. On the night of their arrival, the worst fears of a race-torn nation were realized when three young men disappeared, thought to have been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.

Taking readers into the heart of these remarkable months, Freedom Summer shines new light on a critical moment of nascent change in America."Recreates the texture of that terrible yet rewarding summer with impressive verisimilitude." -Washington Post

The Help / Kathryn Stockett

Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who's always taken orders quietly, but lately she's unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She's full of ambition, but without a husband, she's considered a failure.Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town...

Homeward / Angela Jackson-Brown

The country is changing, and her own world is being turned upside down. Nothing - and no one - will ever be the same.Georgia, 1962. Rose Perkins Bourdon returns home to Parsons, GA, without her husband and pregnant with another man's baby. After tragedy strikes her husband in the war overseas, a numb Rose is left with pieces of who she used to be and is forced to figure out what she is going to do with the rest of her life. Her sister introduces her to members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee - young people are taking risks and fighting battles Rose has only seen on television. Feeling emotions for the first time in what feels like forever, the excited and frightened Rose finds herself becoming increasingly involved in the resistance efforts.

Invisible Man / Ralph Ellison

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all timeRalph Elllison's Invisible Man is a monumental novel, one that can well be called an epic of modern American Negro life. It is a strange story, in which many extraordinary things happen, some of them shocking and brutal, some of them pitiful and touching--yet always with elements of comedy and irony and burlesque that appear in unexpected places. It is a book that has a great deal to say and which is destined to have a great deal said about it.

After a brief prologue, the story begins with a terrifying experience of the hero's high school days, moves quickly to the campus of a Southern Negro college and then to New York's Harlem, where most of the action takes place. The many people that the hero meets in the course of his wanderings are remarkably various, complex and significant. With them he becomes involved in an amazing series of adventures, in which he is sometimes befriended but more often deceived and betrayed--as much by himself and his own illusions as by the duplicity of the blindness of others.

Invisible Man is not only a great triumph of storytelling and characterization; it is a profound and uncompromising interpretation of the Negro's anomalous position in American society.From the Hardcover edition.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings / Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou's debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS's American Masters.Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou's debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local "powhitetrash."

At eight years old and back at her mother's side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age - and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned. Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.

Kindred / Octavia E. Butler

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Moonrise Over New Jessup / JAMILA MINNICKS

Winner of the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, a thought-provoking and enchanting debut about a Black woman doing whatever it takes to protect all she loves at the beginning of the civil rights movement in Alabama.

It's 1957, and after leaving the only home she has ever known, Alice Young steps off the bus into the all-Black town of New Jessup, Alabama, where residents have largely rejected integration as the means for Black social advancement. Instead, they seek to maintain, and fortify, the community they cherish on their "side of the woods." In this place, Alice falls in love with Raymond Campbell, whose clandestine organizing activities challenge New Jessup's longstanding status quo and could lead to the young couple's expulsion - or worse - from the home they both hold dear.

Native Son / Richard Wright

If one had to identify the single most influential shaping force in modern Black literary history, one would probably have to point to Wright and the publication of Native Son." - Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic.Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

Red at the Bone / Jacqueline Woodson

An extraordinary new novel about the influence of history on a contemporary family, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming.

Two families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. Moving forward and backward in time, with the power of poetry and the emotional richness of a narrative ten times its length, Jacqueline Woodson's extraordinary new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of this child.

As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody's coming of age ceremony in her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the soundtrack of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody's mother, for her own ceremony-- a celebration that ultimately never took place.

Unfurling the history of Melody's parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they've paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives--even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.

The Secret Life of Bees / Sue Monk Kidd

The multimillion-copy-bestselling first novel by the author of The Invention of Wings, coming from Viking in January 2014The Secret Life of Bees was a New York Times bestseller for more than two and a half years, a Good Morning America "Read This" Book Club pick and was made into an award-winning film starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys.

A coming of age tale set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees will appeal to fans of Kathryn Stockett's The Help and Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed.When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's most vicious racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina - a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household.

This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love - a story that women will continue to share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

Such a Fun Age / Kiley Reid

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains' toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated.

Alix resolves to make it right. But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix's desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix's past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone "family," the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Sula / Toni Morrison

Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison tells the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Their devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret. It endures even after Nel has grown up to be a pillar of the black community and Sula has become a pariah. But their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal?or does it end?

Terrifying, comic, ribald and tragic, Sula is a work that overflows with life.

To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee

Voted America's Best-Loved Novel in PBS's The Great American Read Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep South - and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred

One of the most cherished stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father - a crusading local lawyer - risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

The Vanishing Half / Brit Bennett

From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined.

The Water Dancer / Ta-Nehisi Coates

Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her - but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home hes ever known.So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginias proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as hes enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hirams resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children - the violent and capricious separation of families - and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved.

Written by one of todays most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.Praise for The Water Dancer"Ta-Nehisi Coates is the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race with his 2015 memoir, Between the World and Me. So naturally his debut novel comes with slightly unrealistic expectations - and then proceeds to exceed them.

The Water Dancer...is a work of both staggering imagination and rich historical significance.... Whats most powerful is the way Coates enlists his notions of the fantastic, as well as his fluid prose, to probe a wound that never seems to heal.... Timeless and instantly canon-worthy." (Rolling Stone)


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Poudre River Public Library District (970) 221-6740
Including the collection of Front Range Community College, Larimer Campus


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Poudre River Public Library District
(970) 221-6740

Including the collection of
Front Range Community College, Larimer Campus