Tag Archives: coming of age

Judging a Book

I’m about to reveal a secret. I judge books by their cover and/or title. I know shocking, and not necessarily the best way to learn about books. However, sometimes I’ve found that I read the most entertaining and interesting books, because the cover of the book grabbed me, or the title seemed interesting. On the completely other side of the spectrum, I have made errors about what I believed a book may be about due to the title.

Embarrassingly enough, the book I misjudged was The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. A close friend of mine recommended the book and thought it was well written. I had remembered hearing about the book, and said “Oh yeah, a crime/mystery novel.” Clearly, not what the book was about. Michael Chabon writes a coming of age tale about a young man named Art, who begins to discover his sexual identity, has to face his father and decide what he wants to truly do in life.

mysteries of pittsburgh


With this next book, I was a little closer to the mark. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, in my opinion is a wonderfully written book, about the struggles of sexuality and how different people may handle different situations. The book is set during the Civil Rights Movement in Virginia. It is about beliefs, and knowing what is right and wrong, and it was a truly moving book. When I first picked the book up, I assumed it was about keeping secrets, and I was pretty close. I loved this book, and would highly recommend it.

lies we tell ourselves

This last title, I have not read yet….but here is my guess. The book is about a girl struggling through ballet school. She wants to be a great ballerina, but with that comes a great many challenges. Pointe by Brandy Colbert is a book that has been on my TBR list for a little bit now, and I’m very excited to finally be able to read it. I’m also curious to see how close my guess is….and what else the book entails.


Sometimes judging a book by its cover and title is exactly what draws a person in, and it gives the reader the opportunity to find some hidden treasures. However, I try not to make this a daily practice, are there any books that have surprised you in what they were about? Have you ever judged a book by its cover?



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Flower Power

Born in 1968, a very tumultuous year that saw Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated, My Lai, and Vietnam War protests worldwide, I’m drawn to memoirs and novels set during the 1960s and 1970s, my own formative years.

Here are a bunch that I loved.

space Space: A Memoir by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Novelist Kercheval was ten when her father accepted a job in Cocoa Beach, Florida in 1966, home of Cape Canaveral. Amid the excitement of the space launches, the story of how her family fell apart and her beloved sister’s attempt to hold them all together is moving and poignant.


Paper Wings by Marly Swick

Suzanne Keller grows up watching helplessly as her beautiful mother’s fragile happiness is fractured by JFK’s assassination and her own unresolved ghosts from the past, while the Beatles rose to stardom and the Vietnam war raged on. Her anxious and fervent belief that she can somehow save her mother is both heart wrenching and powerful.


An Egg on Three Sticks by Jackie Fischer

In the early 1970s, in San Francisco, Abby is thirteen and just wants to be a teenager. But her life spirals out of control as her mother’s nervous breakdown shatters her family.


The Summer of Naked Swim Parties by Jessica Anya Blau

In 1976 California, fourteen year old Jamie gets her first boyfriend, hangs out with her two best friends smoking cigarettes and tanning, while her free-wheeling parents throw naked swim parties, much to her eternal embarrassment.


The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

In a tony Detroit, Michigan suburb in the early 1970s, the local teenage boys become obsessed with the five beautiful Lisbon sisters, whose claim to fame is that they all committed suicide.


A Ticket to Ride by Paula McLain

Before her phenomenal novel, The Paris Wife, McLain penned this provocative novel. Awkward and shy fifteen year old Jamie lives with her uncle in 1973 Illinois when her older, mysterious cousin, Fawn, comes for a summer visit. Fawn’s risky behavior and dangerous influence lead to tragedy. See also McLain’s painful memoir of growing up in foster homes in the 1970s, Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses.


A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne

During the summer of 1972, in Spring Hill, Maryland, nine year old Marsha breaks her leg and, with time on her hands, chronicles her parents’ divorce, her teenaged siblings’ shoplifting adventures, and the murder of a boy in her class in her notebook (shades of Harriet the Spy?). When a quiet, unassuming man moves into the house next door, her imagination runs wild as she comes to believe he is the murderer. The repercussions of her actions and that summer resonate long into adulthood.


The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

In 1973, fourteen year old Susie Salmon is murdered by a neighbor; the entire novel is her point of view about her murder and the effects on those she left behind. Very creepy.

~Maria, who once owned a mood ring, crushed on Shaun Cassidy, and saw all the Star Wars movies first run.


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