When I was in 10th grade, we were asked to study the works of a great American author and defend its inclusion in the school’s curriculum. I studied Alex Haley and subsequently read Roots. 10 years later, I still advocate for its inclusion in every teen reader’s library of must-reads. Roots is a book that I have read only once and still remember vividly. To this day, passages of text and detailed descriptions have remained ever present in my mind. This absorbing, intense, emotional, moving, sometimes graphic and always memorable saga of Alex Haley’s family roots from his ancestors in Africa in the 1770s through his family’s experience in America until the 1970s will forever leave its mark on the hearts of readers. I whole heartedly classify Roots as a must read (or a must see if you prefer the mini-series). This book, Alex Haley’s personal fact-based history, will truly impact your worldview.
A Different Kind of Christmas by Alex Haley
A Different Kind of Christmas is an inspirational story that readers will want to visit frequently at any time of the year. Unlike the lengthy saga of Roots, A Different Kind of Christmas focuses on a single era in history, the time of the Underground Railroad. The main character, 19-year-old Fletcher Randall, is the son of a wealthy plantation owner who experiences great internal conflict as he studies at his New England school. After befriending a family of Quakers, Fletcher is forced to resolve his conflict once and for all. Can he return home for Christmas the same loyal son who will one day oversee his father’s plantation? Or will Fletcher follow the new stirrings of his heart and become a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves to escape from his childhood home? Read this concise, but meaningful book to find out.
Reviews by Chiara Genovese, Zauel Library
X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X
“I am my father’s son. They will always come for me. But I will never succumb” (348).
X: A Novel is a unique portrayal of teenage Malcolm Little’s journey to becoming influential civil rights advocate Malcolm X. Rather than focusing on the politics of Malcolm’s later life, Shabazz emphasizes the identity crisis that takes Malcolm away from his family roots of activism and towards a life of rebellion, crime and independence from his parents’ legacy. As Malcolm faces the many social obstacles placed in his path, he finds himself questioning his personal role on the world stage and, more importantly, his role as his father’s son. Voted the 2018 Great Michigan Read, this novel is especially interesting for Michigan readers as Malcolm’s childhood experience in Lansing is thoroughly explored. A light read that delves into heavy topics, X: A Novel is a great conversation starter for teen and adult readers alike.