The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje. In the early 1950s, an 11-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. He becomes part of a group of youngsters and voyages into maturity as well as across space. A spellbinding story about the magical, often forbidden discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.
Crow, by Barbara Wright. In 1898, one generation away from slavery, a thriving African American community—enfranchised and emancipated—is home for 11-year-old Moses in North Carolina. The summer is filled with ups and downs for him, but he along with his neighbors suddenly and violently lose their freedom in a violent riot. Based on actual events, the fictional characters seem as real as the historic ones.
How It All Began, by Penelope Lively. A wry, wise story about the surprising ways lives intersect through chance and chaos. When a retired schoolteacher is accosted by a petty thief on a London street, the consequences ripple across the lives of acquaintances and strangers. I was especially taken with the style that consists of multiple voices and differing tenses.
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Yes, the one the movie’s based on. This dystopian tale is terrific, fast-moving, thought-provoking, as the protagonist and her partner battle for survival, which may or may not be for the good. Parents, kids and grandparents will find lots to discuss.