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The Help

Author Kathryn Stockett
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Published 2009-02-10

The #1 New York Times bestselling novel and basis for the Academy Award-winning film—a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t—nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read. 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...

The Secret Life of Bees

Author Sue Monk Kidd
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Published 2003

After her "stand-in mother," a bold black woman named Rosaleen, insults the three biggest racists in town, Lily Owens joins Rosaleen on a journey to Tiburon, South Carolina, where they are taken in by three black, bee-keeping sisters.

The Kitchen House

Author Kathleen Grissom
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Published 2010-02-02

Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of the highly anticipated Glory Over Everything, established herself as a remarkable new talent with The Kitchen House, now a contemporary classic. In this gripping novel, a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate at a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War. Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family. In time, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master’s opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves. Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Grissom’s debut novel unfolds in a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep-buried secrets, and familial bonds.

Melody

Author V.C. Andrews
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Published 2011-02-08

Melody Logan knew her beautiful mother, Haille, was unhappy in their hardscrabble mining town.... But with her wonderful father's unwavering love, Melody always felt safe -- until a dreadful mine accident ripped her from her family's moorings. She was still devastated by her father's death when she left West Virginia with Haille to follow her mother's dream of becoming a model or actress. But first they stopped in Cape Cod to visit her father's family at last. Melody knew only that her grandparents had disowned their son when he married Haille -- just because she was an orphan, her mother said. Yet moments after Melody first laid eyes on dour, Bible-spouting Uncle Jacob, nervous Aunt Sara, and her cousins -- handsome Cary, whose twin, Laura, had been killed recently in a sailing accident, and sweet, deaf little May -- Haille announced that Melody was to live with them. Sleeping in Laura's old room, Melody was awash in a sea of grief and confusion, with only her beloved fiddle to comfort her. Then Cary revealed the truth he'd gleaned about her parents -- a sad shocking story that only puzzled her more. Melody knew nothing of the dark deceptions that would soon surface...the devastating betrayals she would face before she glimpsed the faint, beckoning lights of a safe harbor....

Bound

Author Donna Jo Napoli
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Published 2008-06-20

YOUNG XING XING IS BOUND. Bound to her father's second wife and daughter after Xing Xing's father has passed away. Bound to a life of servitude as a young girl in ancient China, where the life of a woman is valued less than that of livestock. Bound to be alone and unmarried, with no parents to arrange for a suitable husband. Dubbed "Lazy One" by her stepmother, Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, the painful but compulsory tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content, for now, to practice her gift for poetry and calligraphy, to tend to the mysterious but beautiful carp in her garden, and to dream of a life unbound by the laws of family and society. But all of this is about to change as the time for the village's annual festival draws near, and Stepmother, who has spent nearly all of the family's money, grows desperate to find a husband for Wei Ping. Xing Xing soon realizes that this greed and desperation may threaten not only her memories of the past, but also her dreams for the future. In this searing story, Donna Jo Napoli, acclaimed author of Beast and Breath, delves into the roots of the Cinderella myth and unearths a tale as powerful as it is familiar.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Author Harper Lee
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Published 2014-07-08

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 Book of Night Women

Author Marlon James
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Published 2009-02-19

From the author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf and the WINNER of the 2015 Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings "An undeniable success.” — The New York Times Book Review A true triumph of voice and storytelling, The Book of Night Women rings with both profound authenticity and a distinctly contemporary energy. It is the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they- and she-will come to both revere and fear. The Night Women, as they call themselves, have long been plotting a slave revolt, and as Lilith comes of age they see her as the key to their plans. But when she begins to understand her own feelings, desires, and identity, Lilith starts to push at the edges of what is imaginable for the life of a slave woman, and risks becoming the conspiracy's weak link. But the real revelation of the book-the secret to the stirring imagery and insistent prose-is Marlon James himself, a young writer at once breath­takingly daring and wholly in command of his craft.

The Color of Water

Author James McBride
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Published 1997-08-01

As a boy in Brooklyn, James McBride knew his mother was different. But when he asked about it, she'd simply say, 'I'm light-skinned.' Later he wondered if he was different, too, and asked his mother if he was black or white. 'You're a human being,' she snapped. 'Educate yourself or you'll be a nobody!' And when James asked what colour God was, she said, 'God is the color of water'... As an adult, McBride finally persuaded his mother to tell her story - the story of a rabbi's daughter, born in Poland and raised in the South, who fled Harlem, married a black man, founded a Baptist church, and put twelve children through college. THE COLOR OF WATER is James McBride's tribute to his remarkable, eccentric, determined mother - and an eloquent exploration of what family means.

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