Susan O'Rourke | June 21, 2022
This month UNC World View is happy to share a peak into our collective summer reading bag. From exciting contemporary fiction to moving memoirs to a nonfiction text that addresses accessibility in schools, our book bag is helping us think globally this summer. We encourage you to “go global” as you develop your own reading lists, too!
Daughter of Fortune
Written by Isabel Allende
Recommended by Susan O’Rourke
Written by Chilean author and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Isabel Allende, Daughter of Fortune follows a young woman as she leaves her adoptive family’s comfortable home in Valparaiso and sets sail for the distant and seemingly dangerous land of Gold Rush-era California. Eliza’s journey to reconnect with her love interest, however, transforms into a journey of self-discovery as she befriends people from across the globe seeking a better fortune in California and begins to evaluate her own sense of cultural identity and ideas about women’s roles and rights. Published in 1998, the text also serves as an interesting lens into how Allende thought about and represented a global community forming in California, trade between North and South America, and the impacts of colonialism in North and South America.
In Order to Live: A North Korea Girl’s Journey to Freedom
Written by Yeonmi Park
Recommended by Hazael Andrew
One of my passions is reading about migration stories because of my own personal journey of migrating to the United States from the Commonwealth of Dominica. In Order to Live: A North Korea’s Girl Journey to Freedom provides insights on what it is like to survive in North Korea, and what one courageous girl endured to escape the oppressive North Korean regime. Yeonmi Park fled North Korea at 13 years, making what many would classify as an extremely dangerous journey to South Korea. Yeonmi shares countless stories and personal examples about the horrific living conditions in North Korea, and what is needed to survive. While Yeonmi’s journey was difficult to read, it reminded me of the power of resiliency. Today Yeonmi is an advocate for North Koreans who are still living in an oppressive regime. I hope you will consider reading this eye-opening book.
Singing with Elephants
Written by Margarita Engle, winner of the Newbery and Pura Belpré Awards
Recommended by Charlé LaMonica
For teachers and future teachers with gratitude, admiration, and hope.
Those words, written as a book dedication by author Margarita Engle is followed by pages of a beautiful poetic story. It weaves a tale of a little girl who moved from Cuba to Santa Barbara, California in 1947. Oriol is homesick for Cuba and bullied by her Spanish accent but finds solace and joy in caring for animals at her parents’ veterinary clinic. Early on, Oriol meets an elderly neighbor and famous poet (who is a fictionalized version of Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American winner of the Nobel Prize in literature). Their friendship grows as Oriol learns to write with a mission to care for animals, especially elephants. This tender, hopeful story illustrates goodness in the world and the power of words to make the world a better place.
The Taste of Ginger
Written by Mansi Shah
Recommended by Julie Kinnaird
The Taste of Ginger follows Preeti Desai’s journey to discover who she is, who she wants to be, and how she fits into two worlds. In one world we meet a young aspiring attorney trying to forgo her South Asian heritage to fit into a world of non-Indians. In another world Preeti is a first-generation member of the Indian diaspora, trying to meet the expectations of her parents, her brother, and their peers and the conventions she feels are imposed on her. Preeti followed her heart to continue a relationship with a non-Indian and non-Christian, much to her parents and her Indian family’s chagrin, leaving her estranged from her parents. However, after a family tragedy, Preeti must travel to India, a place she had not been in a long time, and face her family and the customs that she struggles to follow. She also learns more about her family and its past, including the challenges her family has endured centered around religion, caste, and class.
Mansi Shah’s book takes readers across borders and offers an authentic glimpse into Indian culture and one immigrant’s experience. When interviewed about her debut novel, Shah stated “This book was very personal to me, because I wanted to write something that authentically represented an immigrant experience that I had not yet seen in books. I wanted to explore the universal themes like mother-daughter relationships, the search for one’s identity and a place of belonging, and what home truly means, while also having an honest discussion about the cost of assimilation to one’s identity and the generational dynamics within a family.”
Those Who “Can’t”…Teach
Written by Shelley Kenow
Recommended by Amrutha Nandam
Shelley Kenow was a Special Education educator for twenty years before becoming an IEP consultant. In this book, Kenow shares her reflections on and analysis of students’ experiences in K-12 classrooms and beyond. Each story teaches the importance of seeing the potential in children of all abilities, promoting inclusion, and taking steps to support Special Education students. Kenow’s eye-opening text provides vital insights into accessibility from the perspectives of Special Ed students and their families. This work is particularly important as a lack of accessibility and inclusion is a global issue that impacts the well-being of students around the world.