1. Room by Emma Donoghue- In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary. Despite its profoundly disturbing premise, Emma Donoghue's Room is rife with moments of hope and beauty, and the dogged determination to live, even in the most desolate circumstances. A stunning and original novel of survival in captivity, readers who enter Room will leave staggered, as though, like Jack, they are seeing the world for the very first time.
2. Never Let Me Go by . All children should believe they are special. But the students of Hailsham, an elite school in the English countryside, are so special that visitors shun them, and only by rumor and the occasional fleeting remark by a teacher do they discover their unconventional origins and strange destiny. Kazuo Ishiguro's sixth novel, Never Let Me Go, is a masterpiece of indirection. Like the students of Hailsham, readers are "told but not told" what is going on and should be allowed to discover the secrets of Hailsham and the truth about these children on their own.
by Tatiana de Rosnay. De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers—especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive—the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself. Already translated into 15 languages, the novel is De Rosnay's 10th (but her first written in English, her first language). It beautifully conveys Julia's conflicting loyalties, and makes Sarah's trials so riveting, her innocence so absorbing, that the book is hard to put down.
4. Waiting for "SUPERMAN": How We Can Save America's Failing Public School.
The American public school system is in crisis, failing millions of students, producing as many drop-outs as graduates, and threatening our economic future. By 2020, the United States will have 123 million high-skill jobs to fill—and fewer than 50 million Americans qualified to fill them.
Educators, parents, political leaders, business people, and concerned citizens are determined to save our educational system. Waiting for "Superman" offers powerful insights from some of those at the leading edge of educational innovation, including Bill and Melinda Gates, Michelle Rhee, Geoffrey Canada, and more.
Waiting for "Superman" is an inspiring call for reform and includes special chapters that provide resources, ideas, and hands-on suggestions for improving the schools in your own community as well as throughout the nation. For parents, teachers, and concerned citizens alike, Waiting for "Superman" is an essential guide to the issues, challenges, and opportunities facing America’s schools.
by Ben Sherwood. Not even death can keep two brothers from meeting to play ball: it sounds like a sentimental TV movie, doesn't it? Actually, Sherwood's second novel (after The Man Who Ate the 747) is warmhearted but not maudlin, exploring the bonds between the living and the dead and the lengths to which we'll go for love. A secret jaunt to a Sox game ends in tragedy when Charlie St. Cloud, who isn't old enough for a driver's license, crashes the car he pinched from a neighbor. The hearts of Charlie and his younger brother, Sam, stop, but miraculously, Charlie is resuscitated. Thirteen years later, Charlie is 28 and working as the caretaker for the Marblehead cemetery where Sam is buried; he's also spending every evening playing catch with the ghost of 12-year-old Sam, who's putting off going to heaven for the game. Charlie's world gets shaken up, though, by feisty, beautiful Tess Carroll, a sailor who had plans to be one of the first women to circumnavigate the globe solo. They have a perfect date, and sparks fly. But then news comes that her boat is lost at sea, and Charlie, whose gift of seeing spirits has grown, realizes that her fading apparition is the result of a failing effort to rescue her. Sherwood tugs at readers' heartstrings throughout the novel, and the sentimentality mostly works. Charlie's final effort to save his lady love from ghostly oblivion strains credibility, of course, but isn't that the point of a tale about love triumphant?